State of the City Address: “Grand Forks is Open for Business”
Grand Forks Mayor Michael Brown is excited for the city's continued economic progress
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Mayor Michael Brown delivered his “State of the City” speech to a crowd of over 600 at the Alerus Center this afternoon.
Brown says the theme for his speech is, “Make it Happen.”
With more than 1,400 jobs opening this week, Brown made it clear: Grand Forks is open for business.
“We have a great University, we have a great Air Force base,” said Mayor Brown. “We have a great park district, a great school district. I mean, we have a lot to be proud of.”
It was more than a typical speech with live polls breaking out during the presentation.
The polls showed people want the city to give more funding for business start-ups, enhance workforce retention and bring Uber to the area.
UND Senior, Queen Ngale, pitched an idea for a Grand Forks Snapchat account.
Ngale said she’s happy with the city’s progress, but thinks race relations in Grand Forks needs improving.
“I think we’re getting there,” she said. “Just making sure to appreciate the diversity that’s in Grand Forks. We don’t need to agree on everything, but I think if we can afford people that sympathy and empathy, then we’ll probably do a lot better.”
They also discussed the budgeting concerns over the construction of the city’s new water treatment plant.
Mayor Brown said the project will cost $150 million.
While the state’s putting in $60 million, the rest is being covered on increased water bills after voters shot down a sales tax proposal last fall.
After Brown’s talk, the address turned into a town hall style meeting where guests asked city leaders about their concerns.
One visitor wants them to continue listening to small businesses.
“We need to develop where we can develop,” said Matt Norby, sales manager of family owned Grand Forks business, Norby’s Work Perks. “If somebody comes and wants to add apartments, add housing, add retail, add any kind of business, I think we got to encourage it. I think that’s very important.”
Mayor Brown wants to continue community engagement to make Grand Forks, in his words, a place where people want to stay and not want to leave.
Mayor Brown said they’re also getting together a community commission to help solve opioid addiction in the city.