Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Forbes article about Grand Forks

I was sent a link to a recent article in Forbes Magazine about Grand Forks' experience of bounding back from the brink of total devastation in the Flood of 1997...read it here. Also, the magazine ranks Grand Forks as the 28th best smaller metropolitan area in the country for business and careers.

Some excerpts...
New Orleans, bumbling through its early recovery, dominates the headlines. But the upper Midwest remembers the soggy spring of 1997 all too well. Even before the three years' worth of snow (100 inches) that fell during the winter started melting, townsfolk stacked sandbags in anticipation of a raging Red River, which runs north to Manitoba's Lake Winnipeg. It did little good. The flood destroyed or damaged 11,000 homes and businesses and deposited 13,000 livestock carcasses throughout the valley. The water touched off a natural gas fire that engulfed 11 historic downtown buildings. Airborne water tankers were called in because fire trucks couldn't ford the 6-foot-deep water. "You read in the Bible, the end of the world?" then mayor Patricia Owens recalls. "That's how it felt."

Things feel better now in Grand Forks, which has ferociously clawed back from $2 billion in wreckage to thrive. The town lost 3,000 of its 47,000 people after 1997, but it recovered in two years and has added an additional 6,000 folks since.

Jobs come to Grand Forks because of its people, 89% of whom have high school diplomas (the national average is 80%) and 64% of whom have some education beyond high school.

The Lincoln Drive neighborhood, once a favorite of first-time home buyers, was leveled. It's now a park accessed through a handsome gate in the massive 12-foot levee walls, which surround the town like a medieval fortress. The levees, which are 85% complete, were tested this April when the Red hit its sixth-highest mark on record. No sandbags needed. "It was a nonevent," Mayor Brown says.

EERC has $50 million in annual contracts with companies from 47 countries and 50 states. Some of EERC's 300 employees just finished a project for ConocoPhillips and Pennsylvania enginemaker Lycoming in which they created the first E-85 fuel (85% ethanol) for use in airplanes. Others completed theoretical specs for an ultralow-emission coal power plant.

13 comments:

Still Anonymous said...

Now contrast that article with this one from the Dakota Student:

http://tinyurl.com/h34mc

Anonymous said...

The Forbes article is just a fluff piece. The real ugly and dirty little recovery story probably never will be told.

ben said...

The writer of the Dakota Student article could learn a thing or two by reading the Forbes Article. The people featured in the Forbes article are risk-takers, and work extremely hard. They are the type of people that built this state and country. They expected nothing, but instead worked for it...maybe he should try, before the job offer in Bismarck is rescinded!

JGS said...

Nice article. Nice to hear that we're doing great.. and of course they aren't going to say the bad. What would be the point of writing it up?

Tu-Uyen said...

I wasn't around during the immediate aftermath of the flood -- came in November '99 -- so I wouldn't know. But wouldn't you say part of the secret to our success is the massive moola we got from the feds? No politics here, but the economy was better at the time and the federal budget wasn't as tight so we got a lot of help. The fed response to the flood of '97 was probably more coordinated than to Katrina.

Anonymous said...

If nothing else, it clearly demonstrates that federal government agencies can be effective in situations like this that overwhelm states and cities. Even if the Bush administration is trying its best to prove the opposite.

ben said...

c'mon, guys...let's not sell short the local response, either. Most of Grand Forks' police and firefighter's homes were innundated, but instead of running, they stayed and worked darn hard for their city. The citizen's didn't shoot at responders, the local response was more organized and responsive. The thing that most people don't want to talk about is that in a disaster, the feds show up and then say to the locals..."what do you need and where do you need it". It is not the job of FEMA or any other federal organization to dictate response plans to locals. Give our police, fire, street, and other local departments the credit they deserve, too.

Anonymous said...

However much people like to bad mouth Grand Forks city government (including me), it is functional (however slow) and includes some people and some leadership who honestly care for the well being of others. New Orleans and too much of the Louisiana government was a cesspool of corruption well before Katrina. FEMA couldn't possibly be effective with what it had to work with down there.

ben said...

agreed - glad someone agrees with me...the city here is most definently not perfect, but we are not even close to being in the same league as a place like N.O.

Anonymous said...

That still doesn't negate the dysfunction of the FEMA portion of the response under the Bush administration.

ben said...

no, I can see why you think so based on my previous comment, but I don't think the response was good. The facts don't negate it...but it gives a little more credence as to why the response was horrible - from the bottom up

Anonymous said...

While it's very lovely and nice of Forbes to think that Grand Forks is a wonderful place to live and work, I don't think I find the idea of applying epoxy to windmill blades all day a successful career. For 30-and-under educated individuals like me, how can a small town such as Grand Forks think that college graduates are willing to work a blue-collar job? And working as a Customer Service Rep for Amazon?! I don't think I invested 6 years of my time and personal money in my degree for a Customer Service telephone job listening to complaining customers non-stop and making $10 an hour.

What this tiny town fails to realize is it's own educational resources are digging a hole for it's own grave. UND is brewing creative and talented individuals who find Grand Forks lacking in decent-paying jobs (sorry to say folks, but $9-15 is not a decent wage). They find cities like Minneapolis abundant with well-paying jobs and opportunities and Minneapolis or west/east coast markets are where almost every UND graduate is moving to upon graduation. Watch out folks, your local community it becoming more educated and out-migration will continue to increase at much faster rates.

Anonymous said...

What is so great about this town? All we have is the Green Mill and other dumps to go to. UND is a joke and the city just looks out for itself.