Leaders from the Greater North Dakota Association business chamber hired ETG to design and conduct an action-oriented program to accelerate North Dakota’s economy, revitalize the business leadership, and diversify the economy. North Dakota’s New Economy Initiative (NEI) is a statewide, action-oriented effort to mobilize North Dakotans around new ideas to grow the economy and create a more dynamic and prosperous state. During 2001 and into 2002, hundreds of citizens representing the spectrum of businesses, government agencies and higher education responded to the call to participate in the activities of the New Economy Initiative. These committed North Dakotans gathered at a series of industry cluster meetings and organized around five opportunity industry clusters in the state: flexible food manufacturing, tourism, information technology, aerospace, and energy and the environment. In addition, interested and passionate citizens and community leaders formed action teams to develop real solutions to the broad economic challenges of recruiting talent, generating capital, stimulating entrepreneurship, and igniting the creative potential of our communities.
The results were significant: over 50 action initiatives—ranging from the development of a new leadership and management training and retreat center in Medora to an entrepreneur business plan competition and investor network to a tribal arts and products marketing program to a $400 million philanthropy fund. Other important initiatives have led to the establishment of an 80 megawatt wind energy farm, technology center for nano technology, and a food processing technology center. Instead of just a plan or strategy or recommendations, these initiatives are already developed and have individual champions committed to carrying them out. The New Economy Initiative is a real, action-oriented, cluster-based effort designed to kick-start a new, proactive way for North Dakotans to take the future into their own hands.