By Craig Whitney, President and CEO of The Chamber (republished with permission from The Forum)
At our recent State of the Cities event, we polled our audience members on the No. 1 issue affecting the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo region that city leaders should address, and 40 percent responded with workforce while 36 percent responded with comprehensive flood protection. While we recognize the importance of workforce development, I want to make it perfectly clear that the diversion is just as significant.
We hear about workforce challenges nearly every day, so we were not surprised by the result of the poll, to which 200 audience members responded. The issue has been newsworthy for several years now, and our collaboration with other organizations to conduct a regional workforce development study is a testament to its prominence in our thriving metro.
What may not be as visible to people is what’s happening with the diversion; you may see construction on flood projects downtown, and while those are part of the federal diversion project, the bulk of the diversion has yet to begin. Once ground is broken on the diversion channel, it will likely take eight to 10 years to build.
Ground-breaking will begin as soon as this fall. In the meantime, The Chamber’s Business Leaders for Permanent Flood Protection Task Force, which was organized more than two years ago with the explicit purpose of lobbying the Legislature for support, is back at work. The group has been meeting and has sent representatives to Bismarck already to gather continued support for the diversion project.
The diversion is one of two priorities for The Chamber this year. Just like workforce development, it is a regional issue that affects businesses in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. While workforce may have edged out comprehensive flood protection in our State of the Cities poll by a few percentage points, it doesn’t diminish the importance of the diversion even a little.
Whitney is president and CEO of The Chamber.
Link to original article: http://www.inforum.com/letters/3668488-letter-f-m-diversion-still-priority