A Climate of Growth | VideoJoel Porter | 10/22/2012
If you`re a business owner or are trying to sell a house, now is a very lucrative time to be in Bismarck. But there are other problems that go with a population increase. This week, the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce is asking other cities who have dealt with similar issues for some advice when it comes to planning.
Just four months ago, Kenny Howard was selling handmade pizzas on the street. But when the chance to move his big oven into a cozy spot on 5th Street presented itself, Howard couldn`t refuse.
"To have a unique dining experience, producing this pizza. Pizza originated in Naples and we`re using the oven from there so it`s wonderful."
He`s one of a handful of new businesses taking shape in the downtown area. And they say it`s no coincidence.
"The downtown is changing so much and we want to be involved. There`s a lot of independent restaurants and bars coming in," he said.
"A lot of traffic, obviously, you can kind of hear it and see it on 3rd Street. But we`re excited to be part of the growth of downtown, definitely," said JL Beers Co-Owner Lance Thorson.
While the market appears profitable for entrepreneurs like Howard and Thorson, city leaders are looking for solutions to problems like dozens of vacant jobs and a strained housing market. That`s why the Chamber of Commerce is hosting a two-day conference this week.
"Because the last thing we want to do is get behind and then try to play catch-up. And so this is really our effort to bring together the public and private sector and develop some solutions and have some discussions about how we move forward in a visionary way," said Kelvin Hullet with the Bis-Man Chamber of Commerce.
At this week`s summit, people will hear from other cities around the country that have dealt with growth similar to Bismarck. One is Lincoln, Nebraska, and another in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
"Back in the late 80s, early 90s, Sioux Falls did a program called Sioux Falls tomorrow. And really, for the last 24-25 years, that program has been updated on a regular basis and it`s really helped guide that community," Hullet said.
Hullet says he believes Bismarck and Mandan are on pace for more aggressive growth, despite what happens with energy. Meanwhile, both Howard and Thorson say they`re focusing their energy into opening up shop within a few weeks.
The Bismarck City Commission will consider a beer and wine liquor license for Fireflour Pizza at its meeting tomorrow.
The growth summit begins on Wednesday at noon at the Doublewood Inn.