Through our region’s economic development organizations and higher education institutions, the Red River Valley already offers numerous high value programs and resources to support businesses development opportunities of all types and sizes.
While they are effective in and of themselves, their real value is in how they can work together – providing the broadest array of support along the business and community development continuum.
The Valley Advantage
The Red River Valley has long been known for its fertile lands and highly productive agriculture. Today, production agriculture is booming and becoming increasingly information-intensive as tech-savvy farmers adopt precision agriculture practices. A robust agricultural processing sector reaches an ever-expanding array of international markets in food, fuel, fiber, and biopharma.
Some of the world’s biggest names in farm and construction equipment, including Bobcat, John Deere and Case IH, have operations in the Red River Valley. World-class information technology companies including Microsoft and Amazon also have a substantial presence.
The Red River Valley has emerged as a hotspot for scientific research and technology-based development. The state’s two major research institutions – North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo and the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks – spearhead these initiatives.
The North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton and Northland Community and Technical College in East Grand Forks are the leading skills and technology training institutions in the Valley.
Some of the key areas for scientific research and technology-based development include biomedicine, vaccines and infectious diseases, energy, unmanned aviation and remotely piloted aircraft, aerospace, space studies and pilot training, farm machinery and equipment.
In recent years the energy sector has also become a key economic driver for the state, creating new and diverse industry and research opportunities for our region.
The Research and Technology Park at NDSU and the University Tech Park at UND offer incubator, technology transfer and commercialization support services to startups and companies looking to expand by developing or adopting new technologies.
The Red River Valley’s postsecondary education institutions, along with the K-12 schools, are also key generators of the region’s highly educated talent pool. Today, North Dakota has the third highest percentage of college-educated people under 34 among the fifty states and the District of Columbia. This educated and capable workforce is a key attraction for the national companies that make the Red River Valley their home and an important competitive advantage for homegrown, local companies.
The Red River Valley’s recent economic performance has outpaced the national economy and avoided the Great Recession. While jobs in the national economy grew by .1 percent from 2008 to 2012, job growth exceeded 5 percent in the Red River Valley. Manufacturing, despite job reductions, continues to comprise a disproportionate share of gross regional product (GRP), accounting for 10 percent of GRP and only 6.3 percent of all jobs.
Job growth in the Red River Valley in the highly coveted science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations also exceeded the national rate. STEM jobs grew by 3.3 percent in the Valley compared to -.1 percent at the national level.