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f rks



engage the people Grand Forks and


East Grand Forks are communities that attract people filled with ideas and aspirations.

Thousands of people each year choose The Forks as their place to live, learn, work and play.

North Valley/New Vision 360 and asked the community . . . John Stennes, Grand Forks Herald staff photographer

What do you love about The

Forks? What bugs you? What

scares you? What is your

big idea to make us better? By continuing to invest in social offerings,

open communication,

economic opportunities ...

Dorothy Edwards, Grand Forks Herald staff photographer

... and the natural beauty

of the area, we can infuse The Forks with a can-do,

results-oriented attitude.

Read on to discover what we learned, why it is important and how your participation can help make our community greater.

3 6 0 The people have spoken. ourforks

engage the people

This special section published by the Grand

Forks Herald.

page two

The challenge of our community visioning

process is for everyone — individuals,

businesses, organizations, service clubs — to identify and adopt a cause (or two) to build a better community. Many great ideas came forward in this process, but there are yet many more to be uncovered. It’s time to get involved. There is work to do. Members of the NV360 steering committee are a resource to help you and your group identify which ideas you may

want to adopt. Please give your time, talent and treasure. Volunteer to make a difference. Get your friends together to do something that makes a difference. Much has been accomplished and much has been given ... pay it forward. This community visioning document will serve as a benchmark by which the community can assess progress and target priorities.

Let’s take our community to the next level.


See the full report at

Find full results for the NV360 focus groups at Look for this publication and read community essays at

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

Why it matters: A growing community is a vital community. Things we can do:

■ Embrace entrepreneurs because they are our creative class, our future employers; they grow our economy. Foster activities that help businesses be innovative and take their business to the next level to ensure a relevant, vibrant business community. ■ Support and encourage retail expansion, including a retail outlet mall to offer more choices for local customers, strengthen our regional trade center status, and serve as a destination for visitors including our Canadian neighbors. ■ Support, encourage and recruit emerging industries such as unmanned systems, data centers, bioscience, innovative agriculture, advanced manufacturing and energy-related opportunities. ■ Pursue infrastructure and a business-friendly climate to support economic growth, high paying jobs. Make it easy to grow a business in The Forks. Vital infrastructure includes air service, high-tech park, retail outlet mall interchange. ■ Support Global Hawk, KC46A tanker and future missions at Grand Forks Air Force Base. The base adds diversity, brings in talent, helps keep us economically vibrant and makes our nation safer.

destination ... retail outlet mall Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

kim holmes

Kim Holmes is welltraveled, having worked in kitchens from Washington state to Italy. But a popular restaurant brought him to Grand Forks, and being part of a vibrant downtown area has made him stay. Holmes is the owner/operator of Sanders 1907 restaurant in Grand Forks. Since moving to its current location on Third Street North, Sanders has become a premiere downtown destination for a great meal or social gathering.

Holmes sees downtown Grand Forks/East Grand Forks as a great place that could grow to even more.“This town has phenomenal potential,” he said. “Downtown is a great place to meet people. There are cool places to get together. Everything’s in place, it just needs to be utilized more.” Specifically, Holmes said there is tremendous potential for the arts in the downtown district. “The Greenway is a natural amphitheater,” he said. “We could host big

music festivals by the river, and there would be a lot of (business) opportunity to go with that. And the Town Square is another place where vendors could be setting up every weekend.” Holmes points to the local government as a key partner in business growth. “As a small business person in this city, I know firsthand that it’s easy to work with City Hall. They’re good at dealing with business.”

‘This town has phenomenal potential. Downtown is a great place to meet people.’



engage the people

page three

education Why it matters: Educational

opportunity creates economic and career options and helps our

community attract and keep talented

Wendy Wendt

working-age people. Well-educated

young people attract businesses and bring vitality to our community. Things we can do:

connect students with real-world jobs Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

■ Continue to build on the neighborhood school concept, especially at the elementary school level. Elementary schools are neighborhood anchors that build community and contribute to safety, stronger property values and community pride. ■ Support preschool and early education. Well-prepared students do better in school. We want our children to excel and be competitive worldwide. We want to give each student the best opportunity to succeed. ■ Support school/business co-ops and partnerships. Provide hands-on learning opportunities to connect students with real-world job opportunities. ■ Welcome our college students. As a university town, it is essential that students feel they are welcome and embraced for who they are — college students. ■ Support the Exceptional UND agenda such as growth of enrollment, increased completion and graduation rates, research, financial support and ensure that students have an exceptional experience. Support facilities like a new medical school, law school and business school. Support the effort to become one of the nation’s top 100 research and professional universities. ■ Embrace Northland Community and Technical College as our regional community college. More than 75 percent of NCTC’s graduates find careers in the northern valley.


Why it matters: Leadership creates a shared vision for a community and

inspires people to live up to and go beyond their potential. Things we can do:

fresh perspectives . . . new big ideas

■ Vote. Every voice matters. ■ Support and embrace visionary leadership. Private, public and nonprofit entities need visionary leadership to prepare for a global competitive marketplace and to meet the ever-changing social and economic needs of the local community. ■ Foster and embrace emerging leaders at every level. Fresh perspectives, new big ideas and engaged new constituencies come from involving and empowering people who have not traditionally seen themselves as leaders.

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau



engage the people

arts & culture

page six

Why it matters: Cities gain cultural, social and economic value through

public and private art. Art reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our community. Art humanizes the environment and invigorates public spaces.

Things we can do:

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

■ Support the North Dakota Museum of Art in its effort to develop expanded space for new collections and exhibits, including the unique Barton Benes collection from his New York City studio apartment. ■ Support North Valley Arts Council and its efforts to create artist space and bring together the regional arts community. ■ Appreciate the public art that has brought distinction and character to our community, particularly in the downtown pocket parks. Encourage a public art corridor along 42nd Street and in other parts of the city to add fun, enjoyment and distinction to our community. ■ Support and embrace performing arts groups and facilities such as Summer Performing Arts, Fire Hall Theatre, Empire Arts Center, Chester Fritz Auditorium, North Dakota Ballet, Greater Grand Forks Symphony and more. ■ Embrace cultural diversity to foster a better understanding of all of our cultural uniqueness. ■ Embrace musicians and artists, coffee-type venues, studios and opportunities for individual artistic expression.

embrace diversity

basic services

John Stennes, Grand Forks Herald staff photographer

Why it matters: A community’s basic

services create the major infrastructure on which residents depend for their quality of life.

John Stennes, Grand Forks Herald staff photographer

Things we can do:

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

See the full report at Find full results for the NV360 focus groups at Look for this publication and read community essays at

■ Establish a community information hub/calendar to let people know what is going on. This will help engage people in government, social offerings and all aspects of life in The Forks. ■ Support efforts to protect and educate our youth regarding alcohol and drug use, bullying and safe schools. Assist in the work of Lutheran Social Services, CVIC and the Grand Forks Substance Abuse Coalition. ■ Support Altru Health System’s expansion, the Mayo Clinic affiliation, the relationship with the UND Medical School to ensure continued quality and leading-edge health care. ■ Support the wide array of health and wellness facilities and providers such as Choice Health & Fitness, UND Wellness Center and the Greenway. ■ Find ways to reduce property taxes through growth of the private sector, encourage intergovernmental cooperation and hold down the costs of all levels of government through efficiency and higher productivity. Affordability is very important to young families, small businesses and seniors. ■ Support expanded housing opportunities. Shortages, affordability, senior housing and safe shelter for homeless people are issues identified by the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Housing Commission. ■ Continue to plan for and fund basic municipal and county-level infrastructure, utilities and human services to meet the needs of a growing community. ■ Support the Sunshine Hospitality Home project initiated by the Sunshine Memorial Foundation to provide shortterm housing for families of out-of-town patients hospitalized at Altru.

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau



engage the people

page seven

aesthetics and green spaces

John Stennes, Grand Forks Herald staff photographer

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

Why it matters: Aesthetics help create a sense of pride and

enjoyment in the community,

making us feel closer to our home. They also help roll out the welcome mat for visitors. Things we can do:

■ Embrace the Greenway and river activities. ■ Create attractive corridors. This includes continuing public sculpture in downtown East Grand Forks and considering additional park and public facilities, lighting and special effects to create curb appeal. ■ Take pride in your own home and where you work. Paint, plant and create — it’s our responsibility to make The Forks look great.

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

social offerings

Why it matters: People need places to gather and meet with each other.

When they meet and know each other, people come to care about each other and become more

invested in their community. Things we can do:

Wes Peck, Ground UP Adventures

■ Create Arts and Entertainment Zones in downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, around UND and on 42nd Street to facilitate more outdoor recreation, music events, sidewalk events, Town Square activities and a vibrant nightlife for young people and visitors. ■ Raise awareness of all community activities with a comprehensive community calendar. There are many things to do in the Northern Valley, but people need information about events. ■ Create new cultural and social assets: Outdoor ice skating, Red River boathouse, bike rental along the Greenway, indoor sport options, major improvements to the East Grand Forks pool, fine arts center, winter wonderland park, more music and festival options and flea markets. ■ Build on the East Grand Forks’ downtown entertainment district (Restaurant Row, Cabela’s, River Cinema 15).

curb appeal ... welcome mat

Dorothy Edwards, Grand Forks Herald staff photographer

A community builds a vision 360

page eight

Eighteen months ago, The Chamber,

the “Soul of the Forks.”

weaknesses, natural opportunities and

of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks

conversations about where they live.

who we are allows us to be strategic in

the Community Foundation and the cities

formed a steering committee to engage all to create a new community vision. Called North Valley/New Vision 360, or NV360,

the project focused on what factors attach people to their community. NV360 sought to . . .

■ Engage as many citizens as

possible in the process of understanding

social capital

■ Connect like-minded citizens in

■ Empower individuals to speak and

leaders to listen.

■ Encourage risk-taking in an effort to

build a better place to live.

Other key objectives were to better

understand who we are as a community, to take stock of our strengths,

threats, and to share big ideas. Knowing improving citizen attachment to our

community. This document represents an

overview of this input, big ideas and vision. The Community Foundation and the Cham-

ber’s Business Government Education Alliance will continue to be catalysts in engaging the

community to carry out this community vision.

community involvement Why it matters: Community

Why it matters: The things

involvement reflects residents’

we do for each other –

commitment to their community and

whether through formal

their ability to work together toward

organizations or informal

common goals.

efforts – create bridges

Things we can do:

between people. A social support network builds a

sense of belonging and a feeling of security. It can provide access to

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau

information, advice,

guidance or a sense of

shared interests and goals. Social capital and

connectedness have a positive impact on

community attachment.

■ Develop a stronger infrastructure for civic engagement, including a collective belief that all citizens can work together with a shared vision to build a more united community. ■ Enlist and empower all citizens to participate in shaping the community. Continue the community conversation on emerging topics and issues digitally, using tools such as EngageTheForks. ■ Reach out to increase membership in organizations. ■ Take action to seek what new efforts are needed to make the community better. Don’t wait to be asked, do it.

newness, openness, choice

Things we can do:

■ Encourage neighborhood identities (signage, block parties, neighborhood watch, neighborhood Facebook presence, etc.). ■ Connect the community through access to information, technology, Internet, newspapers. ■ Support nonprofit organizations, civic and professional groups, churches. A community rich in social capital has a heightened ability to work together in initiating group responses to community problems. It is easier for individuals in communities with higher levels of social capital to coordinate and cooperate to pursue a common interest through the founding of any form of organization — public, private or nonprofit. ■ Encourage social mobility by providing opportunities for moving up in economic status. Education is an important force for promoting upward mobility.

Why it matters: The future belongs to those who embrace innovation,

opportunity and newness. Open communities foster a feeling of

belonging. Open communities are

good places for older people, racial and ethnic minorities, families with

young children, gays and lesbians,

young talent, immigrants and people without children. Businesses,

organizations and individuals who

embrace diversity find more success and opportunity.

Things we can do:

yong hou

colin cutler

relocated the repair and support side of the business from Washington state to here. Clean Republic manufactures electric bicycle conversion kits in Grand Forks and ships them across the world. Hou cited North Dakota as a natural place to create the kits. Constructing the batteries for the kits uses a lot of electricity, but North Dakota’s low energy costs help him keep profits up. “I care about the earth, and I want to focus on clean energy,” Hou said. Hou now lives in Grand Forks with his wife and daughter and said he has no plans of leaving anytime soon. “It gets cold during the winter, but that helps me stay inside and get work done,” he said.

Cutler credits a lot of their success to Grand Forks and UND’s strong aviation ties. “If we hadn’t been here with UND, we wouldn’t have had nearly as many opportunities as we have had,” he said. As a student, Cutler said he didn’t spend much time off campus. When he returned to Grand Forks to start Bold Method, he said he earned a new appreciation for the town’s offerings. Living downtown, close to his office, has its advantages, he said. “I love being close to work, and close to the Greenway,” he said. “I can walk my daughter to daycare just a few blocks from home. It’s a really nice place to live.”

To many people in the Red River Valley, Grand Forks is a big city. For Clean Republic cofounder Yong Hou, on the other hand, Grand Forks has a small-town feel. Hou first came to Grand Forks in 2004 as an exchange student from Shanghai, China. “I thought ‘Oh, it’s just a small town, no fun,’” he said of his first impression of Grand Forks. “But that’s not the case.” Hou finished his coursework at UND, then returned to Shanghai, where he was awarded his doctorate. In the fall of 2008, Hou returned to Grand Forks to do research for UND. He also started Clean Republic with fellow UND graduate Michael Shope, and

Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau



Ever since Colin Cutler watched his grandfather pilot an airplane on a family farm, he knew he wanted to fly. Cutler chased that dream to UND, where he graduated with a degree in aviation. As a flight instructor, Cutler and classmate Aleks Udris used their computer skills to create training aids for their flight students. “We had a love for Web development and graphic design, and we used that to help out our students,” Cutler said. After going their separate ways after graduation, Cutler returned to Grand Forks in 2006 to start Bold Method, a software development company, with Udris.

■ Adopt a “can do,” inclusive attitude. ■ Find ways to engage diversity. ■ Explore, discover and learn about other cultures and diverse populations. ■ Get out of your comfort zone.

360 NV

steering committee

Steve Burian, Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services, CEO Dave Molmen, Altru Health Systems, CEO Richard Duquette, cochair, Grand Forks city administrator Kristi Mishler, Community Foundation of GF, EGF and Region, executive director Mike Jacobs, Grand Forks Herald publisher Robert Kelly, UND president Judi Paukert, co-chair, Xcel Energy, community relations manager James Galloway, JLG Architects, owner/architect

Anne Temte, Northland Community and Technical College president Chris Semrau, Ralph Engelstad Arena, director of events and media relations Joyce Hagen, Community Foundation of GF, EGF and Region, development director Barry Wilfahrt, The Chamber of GF/EGF, president and CEO Bruce Gjovig, UND Center for Innovation, entrepreneur coach and foundation CEO Amanda Bentow, Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals, board member

Herald contributors: Janelle Vonasek, publication design Robb Jeffries, people vignettes, photos


Eighteen months ago, The Chamber, the Community Foundation and the cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks called on all citizens to come...

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