AVAILABILITY AND MARKET POTENTIAL ON NON-AGRICULTURAL BUSINESSES IN NORTH DAKOTA
David W. COBIA
F. Larry LEISTRITZ
Many North Dakota communities find it financially difficult to provide or maintain such necessary services as public safety, water and sewer services, garbage disposal, grocery and retail stores, local credit, medical care and similar other services due to gradual decline in both population and businesses. Declining population also stresses the existing businesses as they compete for a shrinking customer base while the cost of operating a business is likely to be increasing. Cooperatively-owned businesses are means by which needed products and services can be provided at a reasonable cost and at the same time provide meaningful employment opportunities. Thus, the cooperative approach may provide an option for rural communities in North Dakota for influencing economic development efforts in their localities. In an attempt to identify specific businesses for cooperative development efforts in North Dakota, this study explores the availability and market potential of various non-agricultural businesses in retail, service, wholesale, and finance, insurance, and real estate sectors in the state. In addition, the potential of cooperation among communities, public entities, and private businesses was examined. The results of this study show that there are a considerable number of businesses in the state that have significant market potential for further growth, e.g., computer rent/lease and maintenance services in the service sector, and computer and software stores in the retail sector. Regarding the cooperative form of businesses in those business categories identified as having market potential, entrepreneurs who are individually unable to finance their business may solve their problem by forming a cooperative. In addition, there is scope for cooperation among existing businesses which want to reduce their operating cost and public entities and non-profit organizations that would like to provide their services at a reduced cost. There is ample evidence of on-going cooperation among various North Dakota communities and public entities to solve the problem of the high cost of providing public or government services. Such cooperation is encouraging because it may eventually lead to formation of cooperatives to provide goods and services in the state.
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