What’s on your mind?
Area residents and business leaders got the chance Tuesday to learn about available resources for businesses as well as talk about community needs.
“What’s On Your Mind,” a community needs survey luncheon as well as a joint event held by the Rugby Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Job Development Authority was held Tuesday at Dakota Farms.
Attendees heard from three guest speakers about resources available for new or expanding businesses, or current businesses at any stage.
Briselda Hernandez, an economic development specialist with the Souris Basin Planning Council, discussed community development block grants, Souris Basin’s revolving loan fund and other available financing plans for job creation and retention.
Emily Schroder, a business development officer with the nonprofit Dakota Certified Development Corporation, spoke on long-term fixed rate financing programs the organization offers, which range from $1,000 to $5.5 million.
Mary Beth Votava, a regional director for North Dakota’s Small Business Development Centers, discussed financing, marketing and other services SBDC offers.
After each spoke, a roundtable was held for needs to be discussed.
David Trottier, human resources director at the Heart of America Medical Center, said businesses need laborers, adding that at the hospital there are jobs available that do not require college degrees.
Nate Kunde, a member of the JDA board, said one takeaway from a housing conference he attended was that millenials pick where they want to live first and then pick jobs second, and work would be needed to attract those in that demographic.
Rugby Public Schools Superintendent, and JDA board member, Mike McNeff said that looking at a list of recent graduates 95 percent were “going somewhere”, and that schools are judged on college and career readiness.
Kunde also said persons the community also needs to attract are ones who don’t have family ties or other connections to the community.
Rugby resident Kathy Steen said she would like to see more youth outreach, especially panels at area schools.
District 14 Representative Jon Nelson said there is a need for vocational training, and training could be applied if available for nonviolent offenders within the area’s correctional facility.
McNeff also said that one of the biggest needs for the school district has been behavioral health as well as counseling.
Kunde said that in order for the needs of the community to be met, there has to be buy-in from the community.
“It seems like [the community has] so many good ideas, but who will champion those ideas?” Hernandez said.
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