Guest Post: Support ND’s Research Engine & Economic Diversification With State Funding

Greg Strommen, an engineering technician at North Dakota State University's Center for Nanoscale Science & Engineering, operates and maintains the equipment in the "clean room" in this 2010 file photo. Heidi Shaffer / The Forum

This guest post was submitted by Steve Burian, Co-Chairperson of the Valley Prosperity Partnership Steering Committee & AE2S Cofounder

Thank you to Sen. Ron Sorvaag and to the North Dakota Senate for leading the charge in supporting Senate Bill (SB) 2282, a historic bill that will diversify North Dakota’s economy by funding transformational research at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University. While business leaders across the state were disappointed with the defeat of the bill in the ND House of Representative’s last week, we remain hopeful that the Senate Appropriations Committee will restore the game-changing proposal in the coming weeks – the same committee that unanimously approved the bill just a few weeks ago.

Supporting research to diversify the economy by approving the transfer of 15 percent of Legacy Fund earnings to an economic diversification research fund administered by the Bank of North Dakota that would be capped at $45 million per biennium simply makes sense. The production of new knowledge through discoveries can change our lives and the world.

The stark reality is that North Dakota has some work to do and a long way to go.

I am honored to serve on the Valley Prosperity Partnership Steering Committee, a consortium led by businesses and industries, partnered with economic development organizations and higher education institutions, to identify strategic economic development opportunities for the Red River Valley and beyond. One of our top priorities is to build upon the research and innovation expertise at North Dakota’s two research universities – UND and NDSU – to put the economy on an innovation-infused trajectory that enables us to compete on the national and international stages.

The stark reality is that North Dakota has some work to do and a long way to go. Just this week, WalletHub issued a report comparing the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 24 key indicators of innovation-friendliness, using data sets ranging from share of STEM professionals to research and development spending per capita to how many tech companies we have.  North Dakota ranked 46th in growing innovation through investments in education, research and business creation, especially in highly specialized industries.

New, long-term state funding for research from SB 2282 is a crucial step for creating a more diversified and prosperous economy for all North Dakotans. Research done at UND has unquestionably led to higher productivity in the energy fields. Research at NDSU has unquestionably led to higher productivity for our farmers and ranchers across the state. Research is a proven approach to strengthen our economy as recognized by the bipartisan sponsors of SB2282 including Sen. Ron Sorvaag, House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Senator Ray Holmberg, Assistant Minority Leader Karla Rose Hanson, and Rep. Jon O. Nelson.

Business leaders across the state support using Legacy Fund proceeds and/or other state funding for universities to perform game-changing research, compete for federal and corporate research dollars, and build world-class research activities in areas critical to ND and the nation.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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