Last week, Evolve ND announced an opening date (Dec. 1) for The 701, a co-working space launching in Grand Forks. It’s an exciting evolution for the region’s entrepreneurial community, which continues to grow with an inspirational energy.
The Grand Forks Region EDC was the first to step up and lend support to helping it get off the ground, providing a $25,000 matching grant. Why? Because we recognize that entrepreneurs are the driving force behind our region’s growth.
The 701 will provide one more resource to support the energy, spirit, and yes…vibrancy … they bring to our region. The 701 is a natural continuum on the region’s embedded entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s been admirably nurtured by the Center for Innovation for 30 years.
Since Evolve ND first approached the EDC a year ago, we have continued to strategically expand our involvement in downtown and entrepreneurial development. At the same time, we are focusing on further engaging Grand Forks County communities.
We were able to reorganize our staffing last year, hiring Brandon Baumbach as our business development projects coordinator and assigning two significant responsibilities in his portfolio: entrepreneurship and county outreach. As an Evolve ND volunteer board member with roots in Larimore and Emerado, he has solidified the EDC role in both areas.
Brandon describes co-working as a work culture that brings innovation to the market. “We want to embolden entrepreneurs to start a new adventure and create even more opportunity for themselves and our entire region,” he said.
The EDC’s traditional focus has been to support companies that bring new wealth to the region because they are selling their product or service outside the region. It’s a challenging objective to explain but the EDC’s client base is the foundation that drives our regional economy. Typically referred to as “primary sector” these companies have an established employment base, with competitive salaries. The companies and their employees invest locally.
Much of that growth becomes reality because of innovation and entrepreneurship and there are countless successful examples in our region including companies like AE2S, ICON Architectural Group, JLG Architects, Retrax, Technology Application Group, Countrywide Sanitation, Cirrus Aircraft, Steffes Corporation, Sky Skopes, Field of View….the list goes on.
And there are businesses like Badman Designs, Kittsona, Toasted Frog, and Rhombus Guys that are flourishing in downtown Grand Forks, building a customer base beyond our borders.
All of these businesses find success in Grand Forks and collectively are vital to creating a community that attracts young people and retains our high school and university students. Developing our workforce. Supporting the type of vibrant community people are seeking to live – a culturally diverse community with outstanding amenities and services.
Economies struggle when they are significantly reliant on one or two sectors. Grand Forks is diversified. We don’t rely only on agriculture or energy, or aviation. We have a healthy mix of industries and manufacturers. We have an outstanding research university and an exceptional technical college that are drawing out new ideas that lead to innovation and that attract investment from world-wide companies. Look no farther than Northrop Grumman, General Atomics.
Most importantly, we have an entrepreneurial culture that is continuing to build with new energy and ideas that are creating new career opportunities and defining Grand Forks’ growth and prosperity.