In the early 1990s, many North Dakota trade centers took a proactive role in economic development by adopting local option sales taxes to generate funds to provide gap and incentive financing for primary sector businesses. The goals of these regional development funds are generally to create jobs, expand the tax base, and increase local economic activity. Information was gathered from seven of the regional development funds in North Dakota to evaluate their job creation and funding activities. Regional development funds in Dickinson, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Minot, Valley City, Wahpeton, and Williston collectively used $21.9 million in support of 4,485 jobs from 1988 through 1995. The average investment by the regional development funds per job supported during that period was $4,900. The average employment created per business assisted was over 18 full-time jobs. The success rate for businesses assisted was about 90 percent. Factors important to cooperative economic development projects between the regional development funds and neighboring communities include local community support for the business project, financial participation from local bank and community, and business and civic involvement in the project. The success of the regional development funds was largely the result of strong support in the trade centers for economic development initiatives, risk minimization on business ventures, and access to and involvement with other local and state economic development resources.
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