Viewpoint: Support Grand Forks’ sales tax, says economic development chair

Posted: Oct 11 2016
GRAND FORKS—Businesses grow and expand in communities that are growing with them. People choose to live in communities that invest in themselves. Meeting our infrastructure needs is necessary for Grand Forks to thrive and grow.

On behalf of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board, I urge Grand Forks voters to vote yes on Nov. 8 for the infrastructure sales tax.

The EDC works to help companies expand in the region and create new employment opportunities to retain and attract people to our region. These companies invest in their growth here, which was illustrated by a survey of EDC clients we conducted last year.

Respondents reported nearly $100 million in building and equipment investments and told us they spent more than $68 million in the region, purchasing goods and services. This represents the strength and diversity of our industries and employers.

Water and roads are two critical infrastructure requirements for many of our region's leading industries. More importantly, they are vital to each one of us. They are investments that must be funded one way or another.

City leaders have thoughtfully weighed all project priorities and funding options.

? The aging water-treatment plant must be replaced to ensure our growing community continues to have safe, reliable drinking water. Plus, a number of our community's largest employers rely on our water source for production of their products.

? Water supply assurance provides companies confidence to continue investing in the region. The Red River Water Supply Project is an asset for the entire valley, ensuring our water supply well into the future.

? As neighborhoods and industrial areas grow, it's a reality that street conditions and access to new areas are impacted. At current funding levels, there is minimal ability to expand roads to meet the growing needs of the community and prepare shovel-ready areas that attract industry growth.

A ¾-cent sales tax is the best way to ensure our community continues to keep pace with growth, providing an equitable means to fund these projects. Without it, we risk losing state and federal funds that are available and vital to these projects.

Our community can't afford to say no.

Funding these necessary infrastructure projects through a dedicated sales tax will distribute the infrastructure improvements and expansions to all users of our infrastructure, not just our residents and ratepayers. It's an important and sensible investment for all of us to make in our city's future.

Voters' support will signal to current and future employers that residents are invested in this community's future. The work done with these funds will continue to positively impact our community's posterity and quality of life, further establishing Grand Forks as the community of choice for young residents and new businesses alike.

Please vote yes for Grand Forks prosperity.

Thompson is chair of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board.


The Grand Forks Herald | Dwight Thompson