This winter I am mentally challenging myself to go back to a time when snow didn’t equal: shoveling, cold, scraping, more snow, more shoveling, etc.

Instead I’m returning to the North Dakota snow of my childhood. The kind that brings rampant excitement and frankly, abject disappointment when the weather man says “snow tonight” and you wake up to find none.

To often, North Dakota gets saddled with the it’s “cold and snowy,” like it is a bad thing. Honestly, it isn’t bad at all, it is simply a reality of our position on the Earth. We do not live on the equator, in fact, we live in a place where four seasons is a given. Winter, spring, summer and fall arrive every year, each with some amazing opportunities for recreation and fun. And, all have a few things that we can complain about. Why? For the same reason everyone complains: Because we can.

Sometimes, I think we complain more about winter because it’s an easy victim. However, whenever I challenge people to remember something fun about winter, they often go back to their childhoods. Those were the days when winter meant snow angels and forts, family snowball fights and school snow days, none of which felt like work or cold.

So this year, I’m building more forts and making more snowballs. For the first snow accumulation and all those after I am making a snow angel. I’m remembering the wintry North Dakota from my childhood when sledding was my job and shovels were for building forts.

Remember when your mother used to yell at you for going out when it was 20 below and getting your ears so red they could have called you Rudolph, and you didn’t care. Why? Because the simple joy of winter had too much pull.

North Dakota covered in snow called to us as children. It begged us to come and play, to build, create, explore, laugh and enjoy the beauty that is winter.

It calls you now. Do you hear it, or have you chosen not to listen?

If you haven’t noticed, North Dakota has been busy lately. It seems like we’ve found ourselves on a number of newsy places for all the right reasons. In fact, we’ve been so busy as Ambassadors, we haven’t been good bloggers lately either. We’re hoping to make up for that soon, but in the meantime, you probably want to check out these cool North Dakota stories from our stint on the national news scene.

Now Hiring: North Dakota Oil Boom Creates Thousands of Jobs
Those hurt hard by the ailing economy are flocking to Williston, N.D., where an oil boom has turned a sleepy prairie town into a place producing thousands of jobs.

Now Hiring: North Dakota Oil Boom Creates Thousands of Jobs – NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams

Boomtown: High-Paying Jobs, No Experience Required
NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams will be running a three-part series focused on Williston, ND and the oil boom.

Boomtown: High-Paying Jobs, No Experience Required – NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams

How North Dakota Outpaced the U.S. Economy
North Dakota wins the bragging rights for growing the most last year, up 7.1 percent from in 2009. Just a stone’s throw away, Wyoming actually slumped, leading the nation’s slowest states.

How North Dakota Outpaced the U.S. Economy – KTVQ.com Billings

Bismarck, ND: Lowest Unemployment Rate
This “boomtown” boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. lies in the Great Plains.

Video: Bismarck, ND: Lowest Unemployment Rate – ABCNews.com

web fair NDBismarck, North Dakota was recently featured by ABC Headline News as an American Boomtown. It talked about how Bismarck, and North Dakota in general has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. With 16,000 open positions, North Dakota is looking for workers in everything from dishwashing  to bio-techno-engineering-something, something. In other words, there’s work that appeals to just about any skill set.

Sometimes just knowing where to look is the key piece to the puzzle. There’s only a few short days left of North Dakota’s online job fair – www.WebFairND.com. Until October 31, www.WebFairND.com is featuring job openings across North Dakota. (Spooky, we know … Halloween reference.) Don’t miss your chance to connect, browse and seek out new opportunities in our fine state. Plus, you can always be looking online, anytime by visiting www.FindJobsND.com and connect with North Dakota’s Job Service.

Take the time to look and you just might find a job that’s right for you!

The Governor’s Workforce Summit is taking place next week in Minot on Oct. 5-6, looking at creating solutions to North Dakota’s workforce challenges. Learn how you can take part in this exciting event and download an agenda at www.NDWorkforceSummit.com/.

Get a preview of what to expect by checking out “Broadening the Jobs Pipeline” below by Keynote Speaker Ed Gordon. His views on expanding the global workforce should help get us all thinking about how we increase North Dakota’s pool of talent into the future.

Broadening the Jobs Pipeline

Guest blog by Ed Gordon, President, Imperial Consulting.

            By September 2011 over 30 million American were either unemployed, underemployed or had dropped out of the U.S. labor market. Yet about 5 million mainly scientific, technological, engineering or mathematically-related (STEM) jobs were vacant across the U.S. economy. Around the globe more firms are beginning to report that even though there are huge numbers of available workers, they do not have the skills they want. Why is this happening?

            The U.S. education-to-employment system is largely failing to prepare people with the required skills to compete in this new labor market era. It has outlived the labor economy for which it was created 100 years ago. Since then the incremental adjustments, the “education reforms,” are no longer enough to patch the broken talent pipeline. At the same time, laid-off workers often lack the skills to move into jobs in growing sectors of the economy. Job training programs are largely inconsistent, short-term, and too generic.

            My frequent travels give me an opportunity to keynote regional economic/job summits. Local business and community leaders are beginning to understand that this is the new jobs economy. It requires a new systemic jobs solution. These leaders seem more determined than ever to help their communities produce more good-paying jobs and the local skilled talent to fill them. Their principal problem is that people in any community need accurate information on these issues, not empty rhetoric. They also need encouragement to overcome personal feelings of anxiety and helplessness.

            Since the 1990s numerous U.S. communities have established Regional Talent Innovation Networks (RETAINs) that are using teamwork to build broad, interconnected networks of partners to bridge the talent gap between current educational preparation and the rising talent needs of local/regional businesses. They also seek to grow the local business and jobs base through innovative economic, educational, and infrastructure initiatives. These RETAINs address both the short-term and long-term needs of local businesses by helping to retrain current workers for in-demand jobs while preparing their children for the jobs and careers of tomorrow. Often the RETAINs short-term focus is the redevelopment of the current workforce through training programs for employed or unemployed persons. The most successful RETAINS equip workers with the skills needed for open jobs in local businesses or provide incumbent workers with the training and education needed to keep their current jobs or for career advancement.

            A good example is HIRED in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area. Begun in 2005, it matches jobs that businesses need filled today with a blend of classroom education and simultaneous on-site employer training. Unemployed workers with some, but not all, of the necessary qualifications are placed in paid job training programs. Also employed workers can get skill updates to keep their jobs, thus assisting employers to remain competitive. Everyone wins. As a rapid training and talent-creating system, it blends public-private funding for education and training.

            Regional collaborative partnerships throughout North Dakota also combine business and government investments in incumbent worker training/education programs. At Bismarck State College, a national training center sponsored by local companies including Great River Energy as well as national energy industry partners provides on-line training programs to workers throughout the United States.  Great River Energy also sponsors a $1 million Control Room Power Plant Simulator that provides power-industry training for the region.

            RETAINs strive in the long-term to transform the workforce pipeline by establishing and maintaining career education and information programs throughout a region’s elementary and secondary schools. They also partner with post-secondary institutions to build programs offering career certificates and degrees aligned to current and future skill requirements. Students and parents must be provided with a much more detailed understanding of the nature of current jobs and careers, their salary ranges, educational requirements, and local current/future employment opportunities.

            The United States needs to adopt more targeted policies rooted at the local level to help the millions stuck in the wrong places with the wrong skills. Civic activism has long been a hallmark of American culture. Businesses, educators, union leaders, government officials, and community groups and organizations are working together to form these RETAINs. These regional partnerships focused on developing the skills and education required for employment in a 21st-century global economy can help the United States move beyond the current workforce meltdown into a decade of increased opportunity. Americans must act now before it is too late.

Edward E. Gordon is president of Imperial Consulting Corporation in Chicago. He is the author of Winning the Global Talent Showdown and many other titles. He can be reached at www.imperialcorp.com.

 

 

Papa's Pumpkin Patch

Enjoying the colorful fun at Papa's Pumpkin Patch.

The North Dakota Department of Commerce Tourism Division just announced seven ways to harvest a “Legendary” adventure in North Dakota. We want to do them all. How about you?

For those hunting birds, fish, ghosts or the Great Pumpkin, you’ve come to the right place. North Dakota abounds with ghosts, ghouls, gourds and waterfowl in October. Do a little hunting early, then take the family to one of the state’s many haunted Halloween activities in the evening. And who knows, you may actually succeed where Linus fails every year in his quest to find the Great Pumpkin. Be sincere in your search and try these spine-tingling activities. Here are a few options to check out, or contact North Dakota Tourism for additional ideas at www.ndtourism.com or call 800-435-5663 or 701-328-2525.

1. Harvest moon 

The chill in the fall air is nothing like that tickling your spine as you work your way through a haunted fort, a haunted cemetery and a haunted house. ’Tis the season for a full moon (October 11) and the ghostly haunts that follow as we head toward Halloween. Get your thrills and chills at Fort Abraham Lincoln’s Haunted Fort, Fort Buford’s Haunted Cemetery Walk and Grand Forks’ Legend of Terror Haunted House.

2. AMAZEing pumpkins

Two things are synonymous with Halloween, Ghosts and pumpkins. You may not find the Great Pumpkin, but you’re sure to have a great time looking for him at some of the pumpkin patches in North Dakota.  Begin your search at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in Mandan, Berry’s Acres at Minot or Nelson’s Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze at Grand Forks. .

3. Bountiful arts

Take your sense of adventure around the state and discover hidden gems like the Prairie Fire Pottery in Beach or 62 Doors Gallery and Studio in Minot. If you prefer to stroll while admiring the local talent, try the Art and Wine Walk in Grand Forks, Artfest in Minot or the Fargo-Moorhead Visual Artists Studio Crawl. Many of North Dakota’s art galleries are close to home, so find one near you.
4. Oktober Fests

October is a month for celebrating, and North Dakota’s small towns and large cities know how to do it right. The season gets rolling with The Muddy River Mashers’ Oktoberfest in Bismarck. Fargo brews up a celebration with its own Oktoberfest, and Holy Cross Catholic Church in West Fargo gets into the spirit of the season with family activities and a Harley-Davidson giveaway.

5. Fall Fishing Frenzy

While hunters eagerly await their seasons to start, anglers have no such worries as their season never ends in North Dakota. For years, fishing in the state has picked up in October and every indication is  that the bite will continue. Plus, ramp access to the Missouri River continues to improve.

6. Harvest your favorite game

North Dakota is a waterfowler’s paradise. There’s nothing “daffy” about duck hunting here, as a large fall flight of ducks is expected to make its way through the state. The Central Flyway through the middle and eastern parts of the state routes vast flights of geese through the area on their trek south. Meanwhile, pheasant hunters from far and wide await that season opener on October 8th.

7. Harvest adventure

Take in the natural splendor of fall by going camping, biking or hiking. North Dakota’s state parks are open year-round, and autumn activities abound in all of the state’s 13 parks. Whether you choose to pedal, leg it or hoof it on a horse, you’re guaranteed to see nature at its best from the various trails intertwined across the state. And, the crisp nights are ideal for sleeping under the stars.

 These are just a few ideas to celebrate the harvest throughout North Dakota. For more information, go to NDtourism.com or phone 800-435-5663 or 701-328-2525.

What-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up in North DakotaWhen you were a kid and were asked this question, did you want to be a professional baseball player, doctor, nurse, or maybe even a firefighter? Ask yourself why you wanted to be those things. Was it because your mom was a nurse? Or you looked up to a famous professional athlete? How much thought did you give to your decision? Probably not much when you were 10, but as you grew older and entered high school, your opinions changed based on life experiences. 

In today’s world that question is still being asked of our youth, but let us ask, “How are you helping your children find their calling in life?” With the average cost of higher education in the U.S. reaching $35,000 annually, it’s a good idea to start asking your children questions early.

Start asking questions today and begin to help your children fine tune their interests. If your child is interested in becoming a banker, arrange for a job shadow opportunity. (Seriously, this is as simple as calling a banker in your town and asking if they’d mentor your child for a few hours.)

 Job shadowing is a great way to expose a career to your children and for them to learn about the daily job duties. After the job shadowing experience, ask them what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what they were surprised to learn. Sit down with them at the computer and research careers. If your student is enrolled in a North Dakota secondary school, they should receive a Career Outlook magazine published annually by the Department of Career & Technical Education. Browse through this resource and learn about the different programs being offered in North Dakota.

 If you don’t want to make those connections to set up job shadow opportunities quite yet, expose your children to more occupations online. The North Dakota Department of Commerce has a collection of short 5-minute videos highlighting high demand careers in North Dakota called Career Conversations. All of the Career Conversation videos showcase someone talking about their real job in North Dakota and what they do in the that career.  Parents and kids alike can watch the videos and match talents of their own or their children to what might be possible career paths for them in the future.

Exposing careers to children at a younger age gives them the knowledge to make informed decision when it comes time to choose a post-secondary education path. We all know they grow up to fast, and if we want to keep then in North Dakota, it’s time to start thinking about what jobs are in demand. The more they know about a career before going in to it, the less like likely they are to change majors and spend unnecessary dollars on their education. 

North Dakota’s outlook is much different than the rest of the union. With an estimated 15,000 job openings and plenty more to come once our youth are entering the workforce, North Dakota is in need of workers. It is our hope that once our young people find their right career path, they choose to stay in North Dakota, develop their career, continue our mission to be the best state in live in. Whatever they want to be when they grow up, we hope they want to be it in North Dakota.

north dakota youth forwardGuest Blog by North Dakota Youth Forward

Youth Forward is anything and everything that connects people ages 14-24 to a future in North Dakota. It’s easy to overlook opportunities in your own state when you don’t know they exist. Youth Forward works to promote jobs, entertainment, education, and more opportunities for youth looking to stay in North Dakota. Explore more career ideas for youth at: http://ndyouthforward.com/explore-careers/

North Dakota Tattoo on armHave you ever noticed how people from Texas love, and I mean capital L-O-V-E being from Texas?

They have a built-in state pride that’s so large that even the rest of the world knows that “everything is bigger in Texas.” In fact, if you Google image search “Texas flag tattoos” you’ll return over 93,000 photos of people who have forever inked their body with the Texas flag or some other iconic Texan thing.

It’s admirable.

It’s a little scary.

But in the end, I want a little of that.

No, not some crazy Texas tattoo, but a state pride for all our citizens that runs deep. One that North Dakota citizens could wear like a badge of honor no matter where they live now.

North Dakota has reason to be proud:  We have a budget surplus and the lowest unemployment in the nation. We’re a leader in energy, agricultural, aerospace and more. We’re ranked in the top 10 in lots of stuff: #1 job market, #1 state competitiveness, #3 happiest people, #1 most social (media) state, #3 for gross domestic product growth, and #1 in awesomeness.

OK, I made up the awesomeness statistic. BUT, if there was a scale for that, I just know North Dakota would rank high there too.

Check out more North Dakota rankings in the 12 reasons to Live, Work and Play in North Dakota.

In the end, North Dakota is filled with a humble brood. Most our ancestors came from Scandinavian and Germans stock, where it just isn’t the cultural norm to brag about anything. We all live our lives, do our jobs, care about our neighbors and we don’t have much to say about it.

The citizens of North Dakota have much to brag about, but mostly they just like living and being from here. And, if asked, we’ll gently tell you we are from “North Dakota.” No extra context needed. No bragging necessary.

We may never reach the “Texas-level” of state pride, but I do hope we all strive to be Ambassadors for North Dakota. Staying positive about the state we live in and love helps others to see that what we don’t have is sometimes what makes us such a great place. And, remembering what we do have tends to keep us humble.

Amazingly, the North Dakota Ambassadors program, which is North Dakota’s volunteer feel good force, has grown to just over 7,600 members on our social networks. Ambassadors spread our positive state messages and we’re changing the nation’s view about what we are. Join us on Facebook or Twitter.

In the end, my dream would be that all our citizens and former citizens choose to be a North Dakota Ambassador. We all carry a different vision of what being an Ambassador for North Dakota is. The Ambassadors program is even looking for feedback on what you think an Ambassador is – Take the Ambassador Survey.

We may never reach a time when there are 93,000 Google hits depicting people with North Dakota’s flag inked on their body, but I hope we’ve got our North Dakota roots tattooed on our souls. It is a quieter kind of state pride than Texas has, but in the end, I’m left thinking maybe I don’t want everything to be bigger in North Dakota … maybe, I’m simply humbled by the fact that it’s better in North Dakota.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Greg Folley, vice president of Caterpillar Inc.’s Remanufacturing & Components Division, announced yesterday that the heavy equipment manufacturing company plans a major expansion at its West Fargo plant.

 In August, Caterpillar officials will begin a $50 million expansion project that will create about 250 new jobs during the next three years, nearly doubling the West Fargo plant’s current workforce of 300 employees. The project includes building a 225,000-square-foot addition to the West Fargo plant where Caterpillar employees remanufacture parts for Caterpillar mining equipment. The expansion project is slated to be completed in June 2012. In April, Dalrymple, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the city of West Fargo Economic Development and the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation began contacting officials at Illinois-based Caterpillar, encouraging them to consider West Fargo for their expansion plans.

“We emphasized that Caterpillar would benefit from a workforce that is second to none, that they would benefit from a responsive state government with strong business support services and that they would also benefit from low corporate and property taxes,” Dalrymple said. “With many remanufacturing facilities throughout the United States and the world, Caterpillar had many site options for this expansion. We’re pleased that they appreciate our business climate and we look forward to their growing business presence in North Dakota.”

 Caterpillar’s remanufacturing operations return end-of-life components to their original condition in terms of reliability, durability and performance. The West Fargo expansion will help Caterpillar meet the strong demand for remanufactured drive train components for large, off-highway trucks and other mining equipment, including final drives, transmissions, torque convertors and steering clutches.

 The plant’s expanded footprint will house high-tech machining, metal additive processes and a state-of-the-art metal sciences lab which will support the company’s increased production of remanufactured parts and advanced wear coatings.

 In 2008, Caterpillar purchased the West Fargo remanufacturing plant from Gremada Industries which was established by Greg, Matthew and David Butler in 1962. With the assistance of business loans provided by the Bank of North Dakota and with workforce training assistance provided by North Dakota Job Service, Gremada’s business expanded to include more than 200 employees.

The North Dakota Department of Commerce recently launched, NDDisasterInfo.com, a new website for individuals and businesses impacted by 2011 weather-related events. NDDisasterInfo.com brings together information about federal and state funding resources available to North Dakotans after a disaster occurs.

“This new state website was created for the sole purpose of serving homeowners, business owners, farmers and ranchers across North Dakota who need flood recovery information,” Governor Jack Dalrymple said. “We want to provide them with an integrated information source where they can learn about financial assistance programs and many other resources that are available to help people recover from these devastating floods.”

The site focus is on answering three basic questions for businesses and individuals:

  • What funding is available for those impacted by a disaster? (Is there a deadline? Am I eligible? How do I apply?)
  • How do I recover after a disaster?
  • How do I prepare myself in case of a future disaster?

“This new resource is a valuable tool for individuals and businesses as they deal with the recovery efforts of the flood,” Commerce Commissioner Alan Anderson said. “NDDisasterInfo.com will play an essential role in helping individuals and businesses across our state to connect with resources to recover from flood losses.”

NDDisasterInfo.com will also serve as the future home for state and federal information and programs related to future disasters.

“We built the NDDisasterInfo.com site so North Dakotans would have one place to go for financial information as it relates to the 2011 flood events,” Anderson said. “If you are looking for user-friendly information, this is the place to start.”

Social media users can connect with ND Disaster Info on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nddisasterinfo or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nddisasterinfo.

photo credit: Katie Moore Atkinson

The flooding in North Dakota is making national headlines as Minot’s Souris River (also known as the Mouse River) crested this weekend at 1561.7 feet, beating the 1881 record of 1558.0 feet. Minot, Bismarck-Mandan and many of their surrounding areas continue to be heavily impacted by the excess water that needs to leave the state.

The Ambassador spirit of the North Dakota people continues as neighbor is helping neighbor, and more importantly, complete strangers are lending a hand to help out their fellow human beings. No questions, no payments, but rather simple thank yous and doing what is right is prevailing in most instances.

There’s been a lot of Ambassador questions about what is really happening and how can they help. Earlier this month we posted our first series of photo links to help you better understand the situation with our post North Dakota Flooding Photo Links.  This is a follow-up to that post to provide you some more up-to-date information and imagery from North Dakota. If you have more resources, please feel free to add them I the comments section. As we learn of more we’ll also attempt to update.

PHOTO LINKS

RESOURCES/ASSISTANCE LINKS

  • Presidential Disaster Declaration – Individual assistance has been approved for Burleigh and Ward counties. Residents can apply for FEMA individual assistance online: http://www.disasterassistance.gov/
  • Disaster Recovery Center Locations: The Bismarck Disaster Recovery Center will open, June 27 from 1pm to 7pm and be open daily from 7am to 7pm starting tomorrow. Locations: Bismarck – Bank of North Dakota – 1200 Memorial Highway; Minot – Minot City Auditorium, 420 3rd. Ave. SW and Minot State University-MSU Student Center, 500 University Ave. W.
  • ND Flood Info – State flood related website offering information about steps to take before, during and after a flood as well as resources available to individuals and businesses: http://www.ndfloodinfo.com
  • Donate – Give to the North Dakota Flood Relief Fund through the North Dakota Community Foundation: http://www.ndcf.net/Flood/Index.asp
  • Donate – Give to the American Red Cross Mid-Dakota Chapter: http://minotredcross.org/
  • Donate – Money for Minot efforts in the Fargo Area: http://www.moneyforminot.com/

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