• Policy Summit Session Details

  • September 10 | Bismarck, Hybrid option available

    This premier public policy forum is a non-partisan event that brings together business and government leaders to discuss policies impacting North Dakota's business climate and address issues impacting our state's future growth.

     

    Check back for updates! 

     

  • Leadership Remarks Leadership Remarks

    Join us for a conversation featuring Nicole Kivisto, President and CEO of MDU Resources Group, and Arik Spencer, President and CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber. As both organizations celebrate their 100th anniversaries, this session will explore their rich histories and future visions. MDU Resources Group, North Dakota's first publicly traded company, and GNDC, the state’s premier business advocacy association, have helped shape North Dakota's economic landscape. Kivisto and Spencer will share their thoughts about what has contributed to the success of their organizations and discuss key economic trends, policy impacts, and strategic leadership insights essential for navigating the future.

    Blog post on session

    Nicole Kivisto - MDU Resources Group Nicole Kivisto - MDU Resources Group

    NICOLE KIVISTO is President and CEO of MDU Resources Group, a member of the S&P MidCap 400 index that provides essential products and services through its regulated energy delivery and construction services businesses.

    Prior to her current role, she served as President and CEO of the corporation’s utility group that includes four subsidiaries that serve 1.2 million electric and natural gas customers in eight states. Before assuming that role, she served as vice president-operations for two of the utility subsidiaries, as well as vice president, controller, and chief accounting officer for MDU Resources for nearly four years. She joined the corporation in 1995.

    Nicole is a Beulah, North Dakota, native. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota-Moorhead, is a graduate of the Carlson School of Management Minnesota Executive Program and the Utility Executive Course from the University of Idaho. Nicole enjoys spending time with her husband, four adult children and two grandchildren, along with friends and extended family. When she has free time, you’ll find her outdoors, most likely hiking.

    Nicole was named to GNDC's 2024 list of Women You Need to Know in ND Business.

    Arik Spencer - GNDC Arik Spencer - GNDC

    ARIK SPENCER is the President & CEO of the Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC), North Dakota’s premier business advocacy association who is solely dedicated to promoting and defending the free enterprise system on behalf of businesses of every size and in every sector.

    Spencer has more than two decades of experience in government relations and public policy advocacy, as well as non-profit management. Other areas of expertise include operational planning, coalition building, organizational strategy, and membership services.

    Before joining GNDC in 2018, Spencer was the Executive Vice President of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association and had previously worked for the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department. He serves on the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute Advisory Board, the North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance Coordinating Committee, and is the Chair of the North Dakota Transportation Coalition.

    Spencer has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Mary. He and his wife, Wendy, are the parents of three children and live in Bismarck.

  • Ballot Brief: Rec. Marijuana Measure Ballot Brief: Rec. Marijuana Measure

    The "Ballot Briefs" mini-session will feature 7-minute presentations from each proponents and opponents of measures on the upcoming general election ballot. This allows each side to make a concise pitch to persuade attendees to support or oppose the proposed measure, without it being a debate format. Attendees can then evaluate the arguments before voting on these consequential ballot initiatives that could impact North Dakota's policy landscape.

    TOPIC: Recreational Marijuana Measure

    IN FAVOR: Steve Bakken - New Economic Frontier IN FAVOR: Steve Bakken - New Economic Frontier

    STEVE BAKKEN, originally from Grand Forks, North Dakota, began his radio career at age 12 and attended the University of North Dakota. He worked in various major markets before returning to North Dakota, where he hosted shows like “What's on your mind?” and “Energy Matters” on KFYR 550. Bakken also served as the business development manager in construction and engineering industry and owned SB Productions. In 2011, he moved to Bismarck, where he met his wife, Wendy, a teacher in the Bismarck Public School District.

    Bakken entered politics in 2016, seeking the Republican nomination for the District 32 House seat. In January 2018, he announced his candidacy for mayor of Bismarck was elected in June 2018. As mayor, Bakken focused on funding reforms for water commission projects, riverfront development, and integrating the University of Mary with the city. In September 2023, he was appointed to an open position on the Burleigh County Commission and was selected as chair at his first meeting. 

    Currently, Bakken is the Chairperson of the Sponsoring Committee for the New Economic Frontier - an effort to legalize recreational marijuana. 

    OPPOSE: Molly Barnes - Northern Improvement Co OPPOSE: Molly Barnes - Northern Improvement Co

    Molly Barnes is the Executive Vice President and Equipment Manager of Northern Improvement Company, a fifth generation family owned construction company. Focusing on roadbuilding, Northern Improvement has offices throughout North Dakota.

    Molly began her construction career as a flagger in Bismarck in 1992. From there she worked at a gravel pit as a welder, then an equipment operator, moving into an estimator/project manager role before becoming the Equipment Manager and Executive Vice President of Northern Improvement Company

    Molly grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota. She holds an Associate’s degree in Civil Engineering and Land Surveying Technology from North Dakota State College of Science, a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice from Moorhead State University, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Mary. Molly enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.

  • Childcare Solutions: Assessing Impacts on North Dakota's Workforce Childcare Solutions: Assessing Impacts on North Dakota's Workforce

    With 71% of Greater North Dakota Chamber members indicating childcare affordability and accessibility pose significant challenges for their organizations, few issues are as crucial to our state's workforce and economic prosperity. The 2023 Legislature made a historic $65.6 million investment in addressing this crisis through a comprehensive childcare package. But has this funding made enough progress in supporting working families and the needs of employers? Our expert panel will provide an insightful assessment.

    Anna Nelson - Williston Area Chamber of Commerce Anna Nelson - Williston Area Chamber of Commerce

    MODERATOR

    Named as GNDC's 2023 Women to Watch in ND Business, ANNA NELSON is a small-town girl, turned city girl, who has found a home in Williston, North Dakota. From Oregon to Alaska to North Dakota, she spent most of her formative years in Rolla, North Dakota.  

    She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Retail Merchandising at North Dakota State University with minors in Business Administration and Psychology. She immediately moved to Los Angeles where she was the lead sales representative for a prominent showroom, then worked as an apparel buyer for an elite boutique in Oklahoma City. During those years, she earned her MBA with a certificate in marketing. 

    Upon returning to North Dakota in 2018, she landed a job as a news producer and anchor at KFYR-TV in Bismarck; then assumed those roles for its sister station in Williston, KUMV-TV, in 2021.

    The community quickly stole her heart with its warm, friendly people, small town feel, and vibrant economy.  

    Anna was humbled to be named the President of the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce in April 2022. This role has given her the opportunity to continue serving the community and the surrounding area. 

    She is so proud of the work that she and her team are doing for the business community in the Williston area. None of it would be possible without the support of the Chamber’s board of directors, staff, and members; the community as a whole; her family; and her loving husband, Eric.

  • Innovation Over Regulation: Reflections from a Retired Director of Dept of Mineral Resources Innovation Over Regulation: Reflections from a Retired Director of Dept of Mineral Resources

    An enlightening session with Lynn Helms as he reflects on balancing innovation and regulation to drive North Dakota's economic growth. Under his leadership, oil production has surged beyond the state's 5 billionth barrel. Helms will discuss how embracing innovation over excessive regulation propelled the oil industry and state forward. Upon retirement, Helms will share advice from his tenure and insights on fostering future industry innovation and economic prosperity.

    Lynn Helms Lynn Helms

    LYNN HELMS grew up on a cattle ranch in Harding County South Dakota where he learned the benefits of agriculture, prairie ecology, resources, and conservation. Lynn earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, MS in Petroleum Engineering and PhD in Petroleum Engineering from the University of North Dakota. His work in the oil industry began as a roughneck working holidays and summers during college and has taken him all over the world. Most recently, Lynn has served as Director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission Oil & Gas Division since July 1998 and Director of the Department of Mineral Resources since it was formed in July 2005.  

    Before moving to Bismarck to work in state government, he worked as a production engineer, reservoir engineer, and asset team leader on projects in Abu Dhabi, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. He is an active member of Dacotah Mandan Lions and Bismarck Church of Christ working on service projects and teaching classes for preschoolers through adults. When he’s not working or volunteering Lynn enjoys spending time with his wife, adult children, grand-children, hunting, and horses.

  •  National Political Possibilities from the U.S. Chamber Perspective National Political Possibilities from the U.S. Chamber Perspective

    As the November elections approach, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will provide a comprehensive outlook on the national political landscape. This session will cover potential election impacts on legislative priorities and business policies.

    Attendees will gain insights into shifting political dynamics, key races, and possible post-election policy changes, providing businesses and policymakers insight into possibilities of the future political environment. The U.S. Chamber's expertise ensures valuable and timely information on issues shaping the future business climate.

    Blog post on this session

    John Kirchner - US Chamber of Commerce John Kirchner - US Chamber of Commerce

    JOHN KIRCHNER, Vice President of the Midwest Region in the Government Affairs Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, represents the Chamber throughout the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Kirchner helps develop and implement the Chamber’s grassroots, legislative, and political activities in the area. In addition, he works closely with state and local chambers, as well as with members of Congress in his region to further the legislative priorities of the Chamber.

    Previously, Kirchner spent eight years as public relations manager at Marvin Windows and Doors, leading the company’s public affairs and corporate communications efforts. Before that, he was the political director for the Minnesota Republican Party.

    Kirchner received his B.A. in political science from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and now resides in Edina, Minnesota.