North Dakota needs Bison World tourist destination

It will help develop a new kind of workforce and add millions of dollars to our economy.

JSSP Letter to Editor

I have been blessed with the good fortune of traveling the world and launching 15 companies spanning five continents, including GIANT snacks in Wahpeton. I have come to appreciate what it takes for a state or nation to grow its economy beyond its core industries. When I recently reviewed the plan and financial analysis of the proposed Bison World attraction near Jamestown, I knew immediately that this is the kind of project North Dakota needs if we are serious about growing and diversifying our economy in the future. It will help develop a new kind of workforce and add millions of dollars to our economy.

When I joined Gov. Doug Burgum as his first Commerce commissioner, I was responsible for overseeing the department’s four divisions – Economic Development, Workforce Development, Community Services and Tourism. When I reviewed the Bison World project, I found that it fit perfectly into all four of those categories. A project that can accomplish multiple goals at the same time — from economic growth to improving our quality of life — is an opportunity I believe we must seize upon.

It is also time for North Dakota to start making money from taxes and economic development on its vacant state-owned land. For over 65 years, since the interstate highway was built, we have not turned this incredible location at Exit 258 into a revenue producer for our state. But now, we have an opportunity to make it the home of Bison World — an attraction that will put North Dakota on the map in an area where there is no competition and where we need more economic diversification.

The Bison World team of volunteer community leaders has done its part to design and develop a world-class tourist destination. They brought in some of the most successful theme park designers and financial analysts in the world to create this unique attraction. They have also worked with our state tourism director every step of the way and are now ready to start the project.

I urge all legislators to support this incredible project and make sure it comes to fruition during this session of the state Legislature.

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