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Finding the good life

Finding the good life North Dakota Living feature story

Finding the good life

by LuAnn Dart, freelancer writer from Elgin, N.D.

Unemployment rate: 2.8 percent. Job openings: 19,700 or more.

Not nearly enough workers = plenty of job openings.

It’s an equation nearly every worker encounters when searching through the job announcements in North Dakota.

Kevin Bone was living in Montana, looking for better job opportunities, when his search turned toward North Dakota.

“The economy back home wasn’t very good. There were not a lot of job opportunities and there were a lot of opportunities in North Dakota. Of course, the pay is a lot better than it is back home. So we decided to take the chance,” he says.

His path led him to McKenzie Electric Cooperative, where he is an engineering supervisor in Watford City.

The gamble paid. His daughters are thriving in school and the family has become immersed in the community, taking advantage of the outdoor opportunities.

“We like North Dakota. It has its own unique beauty. Sure, I miss the mountains, but North Dakota is quite a beautiful place. You have to get off the beaten path and look around,” says Bone, an artistic photographer who has captured North Dakota’s scenery in his gallery.

    Those are the types of stories the Economic Development Foundation (EDF) is sharing through its “Find the Good Life in North Dakota” initiative, a dual-purpose effort to enhance North Dakota’s image outside the borders and attract workers to inside the borders.

    “We realized the big difficulty for continuing our economy on the good wave it was on was getting enough workers into the state,” says Wally Goulet, vice president of risk management and compliance at the National Information Solutions Cooperative in Mandan and chairman of the EDF. “We’ve literally seen restaurants and other service places close because they didn’t have the employees.”

     At the same time, recruiters were spending a lot of time at hiring events just dispelling myths about the state, says Sara Otte Coleman, director of N.D. Tourism and project coordinator of the initiative.

    “If we don’t create our own positive image, others will be quick to paint our image for us, and not always in a flattering way,” Goulet points out.

     So the “Find the Good Life in North Dakota” initiative’s website at not only features job openings, but shares information about North Dakota’s “good life.” The site touts the state’s schools, health care, recreation and business climate, and shares information from communities across the state.

     “North Dakota offers career opportunities, family-friendly communities, great schools, and a balance that gives you the best of city life and country life. The more you learn about North Dakota, the more you realize you’ll find the good life here,” the site shares.