The plan to develop a Chinese-owned corn mill in Grand Forks is dead following alarms raised by the U.S. Air Force, but the conversation over the project continues. In the wake of the project’s end, Grand Forks citizens are questioning the close ties between the City of Grand Forks and the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation and wondering if there may be some conflicts of interest.
Close ties, including sharing board members, are common in these arrangments across North Dakota. We do the same in Minot. It will be interesting to see what conclusions Grand Forks comes to on the issue. And Grand Forks isn’t the only community questioning some of its economic development practices. Bismarck is moving towards issuing RFPs for its economic development consulting services. Typically, these contractual service agreements have not been held to the same procurement standards as other tax-funded contracts.