• LETTER TO THE EDITOR: GNDC Supports Governor’s Approach to Shelter-In-Place

    Right now the world is under incredible pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pressure to stop the spread and to make healthy choices for the greater good. There are other pressures at play too – pressures on our businesses and economy as well as our leaders who are working to develop policies and guidance to ease impacts. President Trump has time and again referred to this crisis as a war against an invisible enemy. This wartime feeling has triggered an operating behavior that the US hasn’t seen or felt probably since World War II.
    The pandemic has forced the nation to reimagine itself. Schools are distance learning, medical facilities have security screens, and people’s offices have been set-up makeshift at kitchen tables. Somewhat silently in the background, businesses are also reimagining themselves to survive. Manufacturers have altered facilities to ensure employees' safety and follow CDC recommendations. Some are even changing production orders away from their business purposes to making items in short supply (personal protective gear or ventilators). The food service industry has spun on a dime to alter their experience, relying on delivery and takeout. Personal care facilities have shuttered, providing their clientele with only the option of buying products for at-home use.
    The Greater North Dakota Chamber (GNDC), the largest and only statewide business advocacy group – representing all sizes of organizations in all industries has been actively following the efforts of our leaders and the policies and guidance that they develop. We commend these decisions during these tough times. While the safety of our state and nation is important, the viability of our economy is also critical to ensure the success of businesses, communities, and ultimately, individuals. Currently, 43 states have issued shelter-in-place mandates – bringing their local economies to a screeching halt. Governor Burgum has wisely resisted pressure to do the same here in North Dakota, using a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer to put in place executive orders that protect public health, while also recognizing that many businesses offer essential services. Current executive orders have only been placed restricting dining-in, recreational facilities, personal services, non-essential services of state government and other non-essential services. The Governor’s surgical approach is having the same impact as broader shelter-in-place orders issued in other states.
    Further, Governor Burgum’s messages of smart, safe decision-making is being heard. If we venture out of the house, you see less traffic and empty parking lots. On April 7th, the mayors of Fargo and West Fargo issued directives to social distance. In doing so, they too expressed support of Governor Burgum’s efforts to keep essential businesses running and for our citizens to take their personal responsibility seriously to help flatten the curve and protect public health.

    It’s been almost one month of direct COVID-19 impacts for North Dakota. The damage done to our global and national economy during this tight timeframe will take years to recover from. It is essential that North Dakota position itself from a place of survival to the ability to thrive when the world begins to recover. We are a small state that has and can do big things in the global market. Thank you to the leaders and policymakers who have supported business in the past and continue to do so as we face whatever comes.
    Arik Spencer
    CEO and President
    Greater North Dakota Chamber