‘Good Life’ campaign brings 9 new workers to ND in first 6 months
The cities to which people have moved in the first six months of the campaign are spread across North Dakota, including Minot, Bismarck, Wahpeton, Mandan and the Fargo area.
GRAND FORKS — In its first six months, a North Dakota workforce attraction campaign has brought nine people to the state, including Minot, Bismarck, Wahpeton, Mandan and the Fargo area.
Kicked off in June, the revamped “Find the Good Life” campaign is a North Dakota Department of Commerce marketing and talent attraction campaign that takes an interactive approach to drawing workers to the state. Beyond just providing information, the campaign connects people interested in relocating with “community champions” across the state who provide information about their communities.
“It’s enhancing the advertising piece by putting real humans in place who can say why they love the places where they live,” said Becca Cruger, director of workforce development at the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation and one of the city’s community champions.
While nobody has taken the leap and moved to Grand Forks as a result of the campaign, Cruger has connected with about a half-dozen people who are interested in moving to North Dakota. One has visited, another has expressed interest in moving to the state immediately, and a third requested a list of available jobs in the Grand Forks area.
So far, more than 1,000 people have connected with community champions like Cruger after submitting contact information through the campaign website’s “Relocation Help Desk.”
While nine people served by the campaign have relocated to North Dakota, most who have expressed interest have not. But Katie Ralston Howe, director of the workforce division in the Department of Commerce, says that’s OK.
“The thing we have to keep in mind with a talent attraction initiative like this is that the decision to move is complex, it’s emotional, it’s a huge decision, and it’s one that people often need a little time to make,” she said. “We’re really pleased with how quickly the nine job-seekers that we’ve served have made the move, but we understand that there are more that are really considering North Dakota very seriously.”
In Grand Forks County, the demand for workers is high.
At the end of November, there were 1,830 job openings and 597 people unemployed, according to Dusty Hillebrand, Grand Forks workforce center manager at North Dakota Job Service. The county has an unemployment rate of 1.6%.
“It’s not plug-and-play with people,” he said. “(The unemployed workers) might not have the right skills, they might not have the right training or education levels. They might have other barriers to employment that keep them from finding or sustaining work.”
In North Dakota and around the country, Cruger said legislators are trying innovative solutions to address the tight labor market.
“As somebody who works every day in workforce and is watching what’s unfolding right now, the communities that are doing innovative things and trying to solve problems are going to be the ones that are poised for success,” she said.
In its next six months, Ralston Howe expects the program to continue to draw people to North Dakota, especially if it fares well in the upcoming legislative session.
In his 2023-25 budget proposal, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum calls for $167 million to address the workforce shortage in North Dakota. Of the total, $25 million would go toward a strategic marketing and recruitment campaign, including support for expanding the “Find the Good Life” campaign.
If the Legislature were to approve the entire $25 million, half would go toward marketing and half would be used to continue building out the talent attraction side of the campaign, Ralston Howe said.
“I think in these next six months, this next year, once we have more investment in this, we’ll start to see an increase in the number of people interested in North Dakota,” she said.