I was back in ND last week, doing my fourteenth talk in the state. I’ve made several swings through the state, logging thousands of miles. Those trips still stick in my mind as being the most memorable ones I’ve done. The state has some incredibly beautiful scenery and the people that I met in my travels have been some of the friendliest I’ve encountered.
There were several hundred economic developers and engaged citizens, in addition to numerous top politicians (including Governor John Hoeven and Lieutenant Governor Jack Dalrymple) and a large group from the USDA Rural Development (including Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer, formerly Governor of ND).
Both Governors stressed the state’s focus for jobs in this new century. Here’s how Lt. Governor Dalrymple said it, “We’re concentrating on energy, value-added agriculture, advanced manufacturing, technology and tourism. Right now we’ve got 15,000 job openings in the state. We’re doing job fairs in places like Michigan where they’ve got over 7% unemployment.”
He went on, “In 2007, we had the highest percentage growth in exports of any other state in the nation. And, it looks like we could be number one again in 2008!”
Having over 15,000 job openings in a state with a population of 639,715 is quite a feat. However, ND has a number of job generators like agriculture, drilling, wind and others hitting on all cylinders. Last year the state’s GDP grew at 7.5% compared to 2.2% for the USA. Since 2001, ND’s GDP growth has been over 50%.