Official: Building the state's image boosts economy
The Jamestown Sun At a joint meeting with the city and county Wednesday, the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. program presented priorities for 2007, honored former mayor Charlie Kourajian and encouraged raising the image of North Dakota. Pam ...
The Jamestown Sun
At a joint meeting with the city and county Wednesday, the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. program presented priorities for 2007, honored former mayor Charlie Kourajian and encouraged raising the image of North Dakota.
Pam Trhlik, of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, said it's up to each person living in the state to "share the good things about it."
In a survey of the state's image, 96 percent of North Dakotans said it was a good or a great place to live. Equally, 80 percent of those taking part in the survey said outsiders have a negative image of the state.
"We need to change the public perception of North Dakota," Trhlik said. "We need to have a strong image. Why? Because of the state's economy. Creating a positive image for the state will boost the economy."
Trhlik spoke of the several small businesses that are developing international reputations, including a dogsled maker. Every participant in the Iditarod had either a sled or a piece of equipment made by this small business.
"Who knew?" she said. "Look at what these small businesses and entrepreneurs around the state do for the image of North Dakota."
The state's major industries are expanding and changing, she said. Manufacturing in the state continues to broaden and now has 36,000 jobs. Energy is not just coal or oil, it's wind, ethanol and biofuels.
Tourism is the second largest industry in the state. Trhlik said its image is expanding as more and more visitors find North Dakota.
"People who come here want to see where things come from," she said.
Fewer and fewer people know where eggs come from, she said, or milk, or pasta. They come to North Dakota to experience cows, birds, buffalo and wide open spaces.
Trhlik said her purpose in sharing facts and information about the state is so North Dakotans know what they're selling. She said each resident can help build the state's image.
"It's a mindset and networking," she said. "Go out and share your new view. Be an ambassador."
Developing an ambassador program to connect with the state's program is already a goal of the JSDC for 2007. The idea of the ambassador program is to bring new people to the state and encourage former North Dakotans to return.
Other goals include active development of the I-94 Business Park, maintaining JSDC marketing and promotion and implementing a workforce development and labor recruitment program. Objectives include entrepreneurial development with encouragement to participate in the Innovate ND program. Developing the Food Processing Industrial Park is another objective for the year.
In his presentation of Kourajian's state leadership award, Dave McIver, president of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, noted volunteers are important to a community. Volunteers such as Kourajian are the community's backbone, he said.
"Without volunteers nothing happens," he said. "Community volunteerism is changing now and not for the better."
McIver said with couples both working it's difficult for them to devote time to volunteering. He said employers also aren't as willing to allow their employees to take time off during their workday to be involved in the community.
"We look over our shoulder and no one is there," he said. "Who do we pass the baton to?"
McIver noted just a few of Kourajian's contributions for the betterment of his community. Beyond his 30 years of City Council work, Kourajian's service to his community continues. He's an active member of a variety of community and civic organizations.
"We're giving this award to some who has given and given and given," McIver said. "And he continues to give his time and leadership skills to his community."
McIver said the North Dakota Chamber hands out only 12 Community Leadership Awards annually. Many are nominated as Kourajian was by their local chambers and all are deserving of appreciation for their contributions to their communities, he said.
"But we only take the top 12," McIver added.
In his remarks, Kourajian said he was a lifelong resident of Jamestown. His parents had come to the city from Armenia 90 years ago and raised nine children. He was one of only a few of his siblings who stayed.
"As Mary Young says, 'bloom where you're planted,'" Kourajian said. "I guess I've done my best to do that."