The Red River Regional Council is currently seeking applicants for a full-time director of the Walsh County Job Development Authority. Join a forward-looking team of professionals with more than 125 years of related experience in rural development. This position will be focused on business and community development, workforce, housing, childcare, and tourism throughout Walsh County.
The position requires a bachelor’s degree or higher in economic development, marketing, business administration, public administration, or a related field as well as three to five years of relatable experience. The salary range is $55,000 to $75,000. The position includes medical, dental, and vision insurance; 10% retirement contribution; vacation, sick, and holiday paid leave; and more. Must be a Walsh County resident.
Applications shall include a resume and three professional references sent to Dawn@redriverrc.com by close of business Wednesday, August 16, 2023. Interviews will be conducted on Monday, August 21, 2023. A full job description and application packet can be viewed here or by contacting Lori Estad, Office and Fiscal Manager, at Lori@redriverrc.com, or Dawn Mandt, Executive Director, Dawn@redriverrc.com or by calling 701-352-3550.
August 4, 2023
The Walsh County Job Development Authority (WCJDA) has entered into a partnership with the Red River Regional Council for professional staff and fiscal management services through 2026.
The Walsh County JDA assists businesses with securing financing and provides interest buy down funding opportunities for new and expanding businesses in Walsh County. The WCJDA board consists of 12 members from across Walsh County who share a vision of growing our communities and providing the means to do so.
“We are very excited to partner with the Red River Regional Council,” said Julie Gemmill, WCJDA Board Chair. “We want to make sure that our Walsh County communities continue to thrive and look forward to collaborating with the Regional Council to address concerns with workforce development, housing and childcare.”
The WCJDA becomes the third JDA to contract in this manner with the Regional Council. The Regional Council has been providing contracted staff to Nelson and Pembina County JDAs since their inception some 30+ years ago. Together, the four organizations have been building and supporting shared goals around workforce development and attraction and destination development/visitor attraction over the past several years.
A full-time executive director will be hired to serve Walsh County while Lori Estad will provide office and fiscal management support. Estad has 27 years of organization and grant fiscal management experience with the Regional Council. The Walsh County JDA will now be supported by a team of six full-time and two part-time professionals with more than 125 years of relevant experience in rural development.
“We are excited to link arms with the WCJDA,” said Dawn Mandt, Regional Council Executive Director. “Through the JDA partnerships, we are able to provide a cohesive, regional development approach and an extraordinary team that is driven for results.”
In 2022, the Regional Council team assisted in developing 79 funding requests which led to securing $8.3 million and leveraging an additional $4.3 million for a total regional investment of $12.7 million. The Regional Council also hired experts in housing development and workforce attraction/development in the past year and is in the middle of developing a five-year regional comprehensive economic development strategy for northeastern North Dakota.
Angelle French, the former Walsh County JDA director, transitioned to lead the Pembina County JDA in early 2023.
The RRRC is accepting applications for the role of executive director of the Walsh County JDA through Wednesday, August 16, and plans to interview candidates on August 21. An application and informational packet can be found on the RRRC website here or by contacting Lori Estad, Office Manager, at Lori@redriverrc.com, or Dawn Mandt, Executive Director, Dawn@redriverrc.com or by calling 701-352-3550.
As part of the five year strategic development plan for Region 4, we have conducted in-depth data analysis of key trends - both demographic and economics - in the region. We have uncovered a few new topics in the process and are working to release this information in a summary and sharable format.
These trends, you'll see, are mixed bag of urban and rural trends within our four counties. The mixed bag is largely a contrast of rural and urban dynamics in North Dakota today. Together, our small towns have a total population of approximately 35,000 people - the size of West Fargo. This population is disbursed amongst 41 towns with Grafton being the largest at 4,200 and 10 communities ranging from 512 to 1,430 people. The rest are smaller. The city of Grand Forks is approximately 60,000 people.
According to studies by the Aspen Institute and Headwaters Economics, North Dakota is ranked last in the country for rural development capacity. Lack of adequate professional staff, leadership development and resources to champion rural issues and create positive momentum. Comparing the systems that support growth in our larger cities to our rural communities, disparities are significant.
For example, large communities have convention and visitors bureaus, community development departments, chambers of commerce leading community/business policy/funding, economic development organizations, housing authorities active in housing development, downtown associations, as well as significant private sector and nonprofit organizations. Rural areas lack the regional taxing authorities and critical mass to support development efforts and systems at a comparative level. A rural capacity map - Headwaters Economics Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening America’s Rural Innovation Infrastructure - The Aspen Institute
Statewide, population growth the past decade was largely focused in the state's largest communities with just three counties accounting for 70% of population growth - Cass (Fargo), Burleigh (Bismarck) and Williams (Williston). Our counties have continued an 80-year trend of overall population loss - with the rate of loss beginning to slow.
Wages appear to be a big driver of where people live in ND. Rural wages are generally considerably less than wages in our larger communities in ND. People of prime workforce ages are migrating to the larger communities. Gender wage equity is also a large issue - with women earning significantly less than men (25 to 29% less). Healthcare and education sectors have the most significant differences in rural vs. urban areas (26 to 58% less in rural counties than Grand Forks County).
Lack of equity in wages also exacerbates the housing development conundrum in rural ND. New housing development is stagnant in rural areas. Only 6% of the housing in our rural communities has been built in the past 20 years compared to 25% in Grand Forks. Programs such as the ND Housing Incentive Fund has been used to build 3,040 housing units in the oil patch and in the state's larger cities ($100 million in HIF funds) while only 3% (103 units) of the total units have been in small towns outside the oil patch ($6.4 million in HIF funds).
Positive trends include ... most all of our businesses have been planning for growth! More than 1,500 new people are needed to fill new jobs / retirement vacancies in our rural communities. We are re-launching a nonprofit housing development corporation to help spark new housing development regionwide.
Our community spirit is showing broad signs on a rally throughout the entire region. One small town recently proclaimed ... out loud ... "We are not going to die." The Nelson County Women's Network now boasts 450+ members in this county of just 3,000 people. Frost Fire Park has launched a regional master development plan. Grafton's Beautification Committee has bold visions. Community gardens are popping up. Murals are enlivening outdoor walls all over. Walhalla proudly celebrated its 175th birthday this past week.
We've been asking ourselves ... what do we want our region to look like in five years?
If you have some thoughts ... send them over to Dawn Mandt, Executive Director, email@example.com.Positives-and-Pinch-Points-DRAFT-7-5-23Download
June 1, 2023
The Red River Regional Council (RRRC) has recently added three new members to its team, Angelle French, Lule Naas, and Lisa Rotvold. Each is leading specific initiatives, projects, or programs to address needs in rural Region 4, which includes Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh counties.
Angelle French has been hired as the Pembina County Job Development Authority (JDA) Director. The JDA was formally established in 1991 and has contracted for professional staff services with the RRRC since its inception.
In early 2023, the Pembina County JDA hired French as its first full-time director. She had previously served as the Walsh County JDA director.
French holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota-Crookston and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Dakota. French currently serves as the President of the Rendezvous Region Tourism Council and an ex officio for the Pembina Gorge Foundation.
French resides near Hamilton, ND with her husband and young son.
Florija “Lule” Naas has been hired as the Destination Red River Project Manager and the Nelson County Job Development Authority (JDA) Director. The Destination Northeast ND Project is a four-county initiative focused on rural tourism and visitor attraction. Lule joined the Regional Council in December of 2022 on a part-time basis but has served as a volunteer on this initiative since September of 2021.
Lule has been an active Nelson County JDA board member since 2020 and recently resigned that position to move into the Director role. This position is contracted through the RRRC.
Naas holds a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety & Environmental Health from the University of North Dakota, and a Master of Science in Emergency Management from North Dakota State University. Lule is a Community Champion for Find the Good Life North Dakota, serves on a volunteer committee for Arts Across the Prairie, and actively volunteers for numerous community organizations and events in her community and county.
Naas resides in McVille, ND with her husband, a fourth-generation crop farmer, and their daughter.
Lisa Rotvold has been hired to lead the Red River Community Housing Development Organization (Red River CHDO), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization started by the RRRC in 1996. The organization was established to help address affordable housing needs in the region. After a period of inactivity, Red River CHDO is ramping up operations to help spark new housing development in the region. Rotvold joins us with 28 years of experience in the affordable housing industry resulting in more than 1,000 housing units across North Dakota .
She holds bachelor’s degrees in environmental science and architecture from North Dakota State University. She is certified as a Housing Development Financial Professional, and a Housing Credit Certified Professional. Rotvold also earned a non-profit management certificate from Minnesota State University Moorhead.
Rotvold lives in Hillsboro, ND with her husband and has two adult children.
“We are delighted to have these professionals join our energetic and passionate team focused on a rural transformation in northeastern North Dakota,” said Dawn Mandt, Executive Director. “Each bring areas of expertise that will increase our collaborative impact.”
Commissioners in Pembina and Walsh counties recently awarded funds to cities for community betterment projects as part of each county’s Self-Help Program. The program is currently administered by the Red River Regional Council (RRRC) on behalf of the counties. Beginning with the 2023 program, administration will be transferred to JDA staff in each county.
The main objective is to promote community betterment projects within the cities of Pembina and Walsh counties. There are three program criteria:
- Requests cannot exceed one-half of the total project cost, nor can the request exceed $1,500.
- The county funds must be matched 1:1. Funds will be released on a reimbursement basis with supporting documentation.
- A copy of a resolution or minutes of the meeting when the applicant authorized the project must be included with the application. The city must include in its minutes that it plans to apply for self-help funds for a specific project.
Applications for 2022 funds were accepted through December 2022 and were reviewed by commissioners in each county in March 2023.
Pembina County Commissioners allow each of the county’s 11 cities to submit applications for two separate projects, up to a $1,500 county match for each. The commissioners reviewed 14 applications from seven cities. Total requests totaled more than $19,000 for projects costing more than $83,000.
Commissioners awarded funds for each request as follows:
- Bathgate, $2,259: Two projects – reusable flood tubes and bleachers for the ball diamond
- Cavalier, $2,500: Two projects – folding tables for the auditorium and replacement of youth baseball and softball equipment
- Crystal, $2,500: Two separate sidewalk replacement projects
- Mountain, $2,500: Two separate sidewalk replacement projects
- Pembina, $1,662: Two projects – Updates at park washrooms and shower and purchase tractor and snowblower attachment
- St. Thomas, $2,500: Two projects – demolition and lot maintenance for three residential structures and replacing water lines for sites in the city camper/trailer park
- Walhalla, $2,500: Two projects – Replacing playground mulch after the spring flood and crack sealing streets
Walsh County Commissioners reviewed the requests from nine cities requesting $13,000 for projects totaling more than $85,000. The award to each city was $1,000.
Walsh County cities and projects receiving funds are:
- Edinburg: Asphalt patching
- Fairdale: Maintenance and mowing of the city park
- Fordville: Replace damaged curb
- Forest River: Replace roof at Community Center
- Grafton: Assist with energy costs for Carnegie Regional Library
- Hoople: Purchase product for city’s lagoons
- Lankin: Purchase lawn mower
- Minto: Tree trimming
- Park River: Replace windows and siding at City Office building
All cities in Pembina and Walsh counties will receive notification of their award from the county auditor. The correspondence will include information on how to seek reimbursement.
Applications for the 2023 program will be sent in April and cities in both counties are encouraged to apply for funds to assist with city betterment projects.
Walsh, Nelson and Pembina Counties are teaming with organizations and business partners from across our communities on a 6-month planning process. We need your feedback to help uncover our authentic brand and develop an innovative and measurable talent attraction marketing strategy for the region.
Community Engagement Survey
What brought you to the region? What do you love about where you live? What feelings does your community invoke? What would you like to see change? We want to hear from you!
Please take the following community engagement survey. It will take about 5-10 minutes to complete, and all responses will remain anonymous.
Community Engagement Survey link: https://bit.ly/NDRegion4
This marketing and strategy development project will help us attract people, visitors and workforce to our region by highlighting the amenities, employment opportunities, and quality of life that we all enjoy every day here. Anticipated outcomes include development of a regional brand, a talent attraction website for use by area businesses and organizations, a coordinated social media campaign, and other strategies that will help us market the region.
Additional Feedback Opportunities
There will be multiple in-person community engagement opportunities around the region in the coming months. While dates and locations are still being finalized, anyone interested in participating can reach out to Stacie Sevigny at the Red River Regional Council at Stacie@RedRiverRC.com or 701-352-3550.
Advisory Committee members assisting in this project:
- Vicki Ham, Marvin
- Mary Houdek, ND Job Service
- Mariah Hall, First Care Health Center
- Crystal Beggs, Leading Edge Equipment
- Britt Jacobson, Golden Valley Veterinary Clinic
- Anna Halvorson, Good Samaritan Center and Nelson County JDA
- Jerry Symington, Woodside Industries
- Kyle Halvorson, Polar Communications
- Lisa LeTexier, Pembina County Memorial Hospital
- Lori Zahradka, North Valley Career and Technology Center
- Wendy Maurstad & Chris Patullo, American Crystal Sugar
- Jenny Dusek, City of Grafton
- Angelle French, Pembina County Job Development Authority
- Dawn Mandt, Red River Regional Council
You can also stay informed by following us on Facebook.
January 20, 2023
The Red River Regional Council is currently seeking applicants for a part-time (20-24 hours per week) director of the Nelson County Job Development Authority. Join a forward-thinking team of professionals with more than 100 years of related experience in rural development. This position will be focused on community and business development, workforce, housing, childcare, and tourism throughout Nelson County.
The position requires a bachelor’s degree in economic development, marketing, business administration, public administration, or a relatable field, as well as three to five years relatable experience. Salary range is $20,000-$25,000. Must be a Nelson County resident.
Applications shall include a resume and three professional references sent to Dawn@redriverrc.com by close of business on Friday, February 10, 2023.
The RRRC has held a contractual staff and management relationship with the NCJDA since its inception in March 1988.
Click here for full job description:
November 30, 2022
A consortium of partners has come together to solidify a rural regional workforce initiative with a two-pronged approach which includes workforce attraction and student work-based learning in rural Region 4, which includes Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh Counties.
Recent business surveys completed by the Red River Regional Council concluded the need for upward of 1,000 new employees in manufacturing, healthcare, education, and small businesses over the next five years. The strong workforce need has been growing for several years and an impending state/federal grant award through the Regional Workforce Impact Program (RWIP) will provide a significant boost to addressing these needs. The Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh County Job Development Authorities have come together to provide the 25% matching funds leading to a total budget of $250,000 as short-term one-time funding to launch this initiative.
This budget is being invested in a professional workforce attraction consultant team that will work with an Advisory Group of regional private and public partners and employ a regional workforce director over the coming months. The purpose is to prepare the necessary content and marketing strategy to promote the region as a quality place to live, work, and play.
The workforce attraction will be added to ongoing student-focused workforce development efforts that have been growing over the past eight years. North Valley Career and Technology Center (North Valley) offers a variety of programs for K-12 students that offer opportunities to learn about local careers and jobs, develop entrepreneurship skills, and gain work experience in partnership with many regional employers.
With more than 500 employees in Grafton, Marvin has long recognized the benefits and challenges of being a rural employer, and strongly supports the launch of this rural initiative.
“This initiative will allow our rural areas to level set with larger communities who have created their own marketing materials. This will be an excellent opportunity for us to get the word out about our region and attract individuals and families to Grafton and other area communities,” said Vicki Ham, Senior Human Resources Director for Marvin in Grafton. She is also serving on the initiative’s Advisory Committee.
Stacie Sevigny, an 8-year developer with the Red River Regional Council in Grafton will take on a new role as Director of Workforce Development for Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh Counties.
“This new initiative is a critical investment in the future of our rural region’s manufacturers, businesses, employers and communities, and we are so excited to promote Stacie into this role, as she brings incredible experience working with businesses and communities,” said Dawn Mandt, RRRC executive director. Sevigny has worked as a developer for RRRC since 2014.
Part of Sevigny’s role will focus on work-based education programs in collaboration with North Valley.
“Our goal is to fill the open jobs in our region and expose our students to opportunities – and there are a lot of great career opportunities,” said Mike Hanson, director at North Valley. “The needs are changing, and we need to stay relevant and continue to make strides to meet the needs of the 21st-century
workforce. Stacie will coordinate all the work-based learning for our member school districts, businesses, and industries.”
Sevigny brings considerable knowledge and experience in working with businesses and the needs of the region, and she will be a tremendous asset for the development of these programs, Hanson said.
Annually, more than 1,500 K-12 students participate in work-based learning and career exposure programs that have developed over the past eight years. Today, more than 145 regional businesses are involved with job shadowing, internships, and other work-based learning. These efforts have also been built and grown in regional collaboration with North Valley, Grafton and Park River EDCs, Walsh and Pembina County JDAs, Red River Regional Council, Northeast Manufacturing Group, and ND Career Builders Program.
“I’m very excited to move into this new role that focuses both on attracting workforce and showing our students there are many, many opportunities for them here,” Sevigny said. “We heard from businesses and communities that the workforce is among their biggest challenges. We have a story to tell and will reach more people by working together on marketing, workforce attraction, and on building up our young people.”
The RWIP grant is a much-needed investment in the future of rural communities and businesses, according to Mandt. “The rural population of our region is 35,000 people – about the same as the City of West Fargo – and share the same types of needs and yet do not have the financial means as densely
populated cities. Therefore, we are often years behind in these types of initiatives while we await grant opportunities such as RWIP.”
This initiative has secured short-term funding and private and public partners will be needed to create stable, long-term funding to meet the goal of seeing people relocate to the area.
According to Mandt, the timing of this initiative is excellent as a 2021 Gallup poll found that 48% of Americans were interested in moving to a small town or rural area.