• LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Our freight-dependent economy needs a path forward

    Supporting infrastructure in the state is a key policy priority for the Greater North Dakota Chamber. In order for our business and industry to remain competitive we need to foster an environment where pipelines, roadways, and railroads can be built. Because of our fundamental beliefs, we have paid close attention to the railroad bridge permitting process, happening in our backyard.
    As noted in one of the stories in The Forum "Battle for the Bridge" series, the Wall Street Journal called the project "A Study in Infrastructure Madness." Ouch - Not the reputation we are looking for. North Dakota has a commodity-based economy – namely agriculture and energy. We export, so our economy depends on a reliable freight and transportation network to move goods and services safely and efficiently. This requires smart and efficient development processes.
    The permitting process in this country needs to be reformed. It should not take half a decade or more to permit a necessary project and still result in stalls due to litigation. Companies need certainty when they invest in infrastructure. The livelihood of families and the state's success requires a robust railroad network. The simple fact is that North Dakota has the most freight-dependent economy in the nation. It's time to let go – we need a new bridge and a secure path forward.

    Arik Spencer
    GNDC President and CEO (Bismarck)