Celebrating 125 years of statehood, happy birthday North Dakota!
North Dakota is called by many names — “The Peace Garden State,” “The Flickertail State” and “The Roughrider State.” Today, we are also known as a land of opportunity, and we are ranked as one of the best states in which to live, work and raise a family. But for most of us, the best of North Dakota’s names is “home.”
The traits I most associate with North Dakotans — and the traits the rest of America is also coming to associate with North Dakotans — are hard work and resourcefulness. Our ancestors had to be resourceful because settling the prairie, far from big cities, we had to be. As governor, and now as a senator, I see that resourcefulness at the heart of North Dakota’s recent successes.
Over the last decade, we have worked very hard to build a good business climate to grow our economy and create jobs and opportunity. We’ve always been a leader in agriculture, but now we are unquestionably a leader in energy as well. In the last 10 years, we’ve grown from the ninth to the second largest oil and gas producing state in the nation. More and more, however, we’re also being associated with technology, advanced manufacturing, bio-based industries, aerospace, engineering, unmanned aerial systems technology and a range of other fields that have found a place to thrive in our state.
Today, we’re the fastest-growing state in America, with the fastest-growing economy and the lowest unemployment rate. Our per capita income is 30 percent higher than the national average. All of that hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2010, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked North Dakota No. 1 among all 50 states as the nation’s top overall economic growth performer and job creator — not just for the year, but for the decade.
But all this doesn’t mean we don’t have more hard work ahead of us. We have grown, and we continue to grow, which means we have the challenges and growing pains of a vibrant developing state. Because our businesses are doing well, we need more infrastructure like roads, schools, housing, law enforcement, rail capacity and all of the other things a thriving community needs for a good quality of life. This work is ongoing.
To help commemorate our state’s 125th anniversary, I have introduced a resolution, which passed the Senate unanimously. It commends our state, honors our people and preserves a record of this bright moment in our history for future generations. After all, we are working in large part for them as well as ourselves, and I have every confidence that when their time comes, they will work hard for those who follow them.
Mikey, our family and I are truly proud to be North Dakotans, and we are excited for the continued promise the future brings and the opportunity to help meet our state’s challenges. We are grateful to call North Dakota home so, happy birthday North Dakota, and many happy returns!
(Hoeven is one of two senators representing North Dakota in Washington)