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Investment, tourism will demonstrate if Sister City trip was useful

There were many vocal critics of Mayor Shaun Sipma and City Manager Tom Barry traveling to Sister City Skien, Norway May 13-25.

Some of the criticism was a result of at least partially inaccurate information. Despite internet dialogue (and many comments made to Minot Daily News), taxpayers did not pay for the trip. Sipma and Barry traveled with a Minot State University choir, which brought down the overall cost and the Hostfest-Heritage Foundation funded the trip for the city officials.

Other critics wondered if there could possibly be any benefit to Minot to come from such a trip.

The truth is it is impossible to know.

Sipma cites several meetings with officials and private industry which may lead to a boon for Minot, particularly in the areas of attracting business ventures, attracting greater tourism, cultural exchange, and a look at how recycling works in Norway.

The keys will be in attracting business investment here and attracting tourism. Potential cultural exchanges and learning about Norway’s approach to recycling are all well and good.

However, what would give critics moment to pause is to see something tangible result from a trip such as this one, even if it reasonably takes some time to happen.

Tourism development will be a challenge to gauge and to credit to the trip, but could have an economic benefit in the long run.

Sipma told the Minot City Council June 3 that there will be an attempt to continue conversations with a couple of businesses with whom he and Barry met in hopes of bringing them to Minot. One company, Sipma said, was interested enough in a potential venture in Minot that he and Barry held a followup meeting while still in Norway. Obviously neither official can say much about the potential venture at this time but the mayor seemed optimistic that the interest was strong, noted it is promising that the company could be operating in Minot within a year.

About the Sister relationship, Sipma said “For some of the folks that may not look favorably upon it, I think it should put the proof in the pudding of why this is important.”

Minot Daily News agrees that the proof will be in the pudding – and attracting businesses and tourism are the key ingredients.

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