MACEDC marks first year
New organization sets up for success
With a merger behind it, Minot Area Chamber EDC is in a good position going into 2022, according to its president, John MacMartin.
The merger of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce and Minot Area Development Corp. into MACEDC became official Jan. 1, 2021.
MacMartin, who had been chamber president since 1990 and interim MADC president since October 2019, said the new organization hit the ground running at the very end of December 2020 with the completion of the final merger paperwork. The first meeting of the new officers last January brought together two different organizational and board cultures to walk a joint path, along with creating a new budget and new economic development contract with the City of Minot.
“In this first year, we’ve taken a whole bunch of moving pieces, and we brought those moving pieces together in a manner in which we’ve set the new organization up for success, both from doing the things that this chamber traditionally did, and doing the things that MADC traditionally did, and doing it in a more efficient manner,” MacMartin said.
Working with Stevens Welding and Machine on a MAGIC Fund grant that was awarded in November 2021 was one of the economic development activities during the year.
The city also now has properties listed through a major information platform used by companies in site selection. MACEDC made progress toward implementing a $400,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration for improvements to an industrial park on the city’s east side. MacMartin said the grant also will help market the industrial park and intermodal facility, known as the Logistic Port of North Dakota.
One of the first tasks of the new MACEDC board was to fill an economic development specialist position.
“We made a calculated decision to hire somebody that was in the community, committed to the community, understood the community and had a varied background,” MacMartin said.
Mark Lyman, who joined MACEDC in June, holds a broadcast journalism degree from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in management from Minot State University. In Minot, he’s worked as a broadcast journalist, in public relations and as business manager for an energy company.
“For me it’s been about making a difference in the community,” he said of his past 20 years. Lyman said he sees the economic development position as an avenue to support efforts that make sense for the business community and Minot’s quality of life.
He has taken additional training courses in economic development since joining MACEDC. Lyman said he has made connections with the broader economic development community in North Dakota, which works together as a team to support development anywhere in the state.
Lyman attended the 13-state Mid-America Economic Development Council event in Chicago, making connections with others across the Midwest, including representatives of national and international company site selectors.
“We feel like there are opportunities to get on the radar, especially with the Logistics Port of North Dakota, to say to people who might not have thought of us before, ‘Hey, we have value-added ag opportunities. We have energy opportunities. We have distribution hub opportunities. We have the port,” Lyman said. “As we focus on those primary sector jobs and those primary sector businesses and bringing them here, we feel we’ll be able to be more successful as a community.”
Lyman said the business goals of companies are changing coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is opportunity for Minot with companies looking to bring international business back to this country or who want to be closer to their supply, such as agricultural products, or their Midwestern consumers, he said.
Regardless of the type of economic development project, it takes patience, Lyman said.
“This is a long haul,” he said. “It’s not something that just takes a couple weeks or a couple months. It takes time.”
Retaining business is another ongoing focus of MACEDC, he said. He plans to interview dozens of companies in the coming year to assess their needs and determine whether there are ways the community can help.
MacMartin said part of MACEDC’s role is simply to steer companies in the right direction or smoothe the relocation process, which has helped encourage companies to follow through with plans to come to Minot. He also said the number of inquiries from companies that could have a major impact has increased significantly in the past year.
“We are seeing more interest,” he said. “We’re putting our best foot forward and, hopefully, one of these days, there are going to be some things that begin to happen. But I think we’re poised for that.”