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On the list: Jamestown among top 30 small towns for business projects

Jamestown ranks 509 among 536 micropolitan areas in population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — but ranks 27 when it comes to the number of corporate projects underway, according to the magazine Site Selection.

The magazine, which specializes in articles about commercial real estate and economic development, listed the top 100 small-town areas for business development in its March edition.

A micropolitan area is a non-urban statistical area defined by the government. It includes a core area with a population of less than 50,000 people but more than 10,000 people. The Jamestown micropolitan area includes the city of Jamestown as well as rural Stutsman County and had a 2012 estimated population of 20,934.

Wooster, Ohio, led the top 100 list for business development with 27 projects underway. Alexandria, Minn., is the only regional city ranked above Jamestown with nine projects. No other North Dakota cities are listed, although Brookings, S.D., and Vermillion, S.D., each have two projects and are tied for 70 on the list.

Ron Starner, author of the Site Selection article, said the Jamestown micropolitan area had four projects underway. To be considered for the list, a project must have a value of more than $1 million, create 50 new jobs or create 20,000 square feet of corporate-owned floor space.

“We do not count government buildings, hospitals, schools or anything not owned by a corporation,” Starner said. “The project must have announced its plans to build also.”

Starner said the list was compiled by researchers and he did not have access to the actual projects credited to Jamestown. 

Connie Ova, CEO of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., speculated the project list would include Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, the CHS nitrogen plant, Kost Materials and Ambassador Steel Corp. Another possibility is the Courtenay Wind project. All would meet the criteria set by Site Selection, Ova said.

DSA is the ethanol plant under construction at Spiritwood. The CHS nitrogen plant is planned for Spiritwood although a final announcement on the construction of the project is still pending. Kost Materials is a ready mix concrete plant planned for the Bloom Industrial Park. Ambassador Steel is a rebar fabrication plant also planned for the Bloom Industrial Park. The Courtenay Wind farm plans to begin construction on a 100-turbine project this spring.

“I’m really proud that Jamestown is being recognized as a great place to develop business,” said Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen.

Andersen noted that if projects under consideration were counted, Jamestown would have ranked higher.

Bob Toso, vice president of the JSDC, said the listing is about the future of Jamestown.

“It’s obviously indicative of the changes that will happen in Jamestown over the next few years,” he said. “It would be fun to see into the future 10 or 15 years and see how Jamestown is going to change.”

Starner said more businesses are considering small Midwest communities for expansion.

“A lot of manufacturers prefer the small rural communities,” he said. “Particularly the ones in the heartland area. They like your state’s workforce.”

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at