Mandan News

Ellen Huber: Jamestown wins site selection dating game

You may recall from the Aug. 27 column that I was slated to be a participant in a “Dating Game” for communities of 7,000-plus in population at the Governor’s Rural Community Summit held last month in Minot.

The “bachelor” in the game was John Castro, managing director of MaximusAlliance of Dallas, Texas. Castro specializes in business incentives, site selection and economic development strategies including target industry prospecting, military base re-use and alternative energy projects. Other communities in this category were Jamestown and Devils Lake.

Competitors in the category for communities of a population below 7,000 were New Rockford, Bottineau and Bowman. Their bachelor was Paige Webster, site selection consultant with Foote Consulting of Phoenix, Ariz. His project experience crosses industry sectors such as aerospace, biotech, geothermal, wind and solar, warehouse distribution, data centers and corporate centers.

Questions asked by the site selectors included:

• Tell me one thing about your community that would surprise me.

• What challenges would your community present to my client?

• Tell me about the quality of life in your community.

• With North Dakota’s low unemployment, how would your community assure an adequate workforce for my client?

• How do local businesses, government and education integrate for purposes of economic development marketing and business retention?

• What sort of project would do best in your community?

• What is your community’s competitive advantage?

Mixed in with the serious questions were those of a light-hearted tone such as “If you were a flower, what flower would you be?” and “Look to the bachelor or bachelorette on your left. Would he or she be most likely to be a musician, singer or dancer?”

The prize was a dinner with the site selection advisors and N.D. Department of Commerce officials. Economic developers from Jamestown and Bowman were ultimately selected the “winners,” but the experience was beneficial for all.

In follow-up discussion, the site selectors noted that the conference provided for their first opportunities to visit North Dakota. They were impressed by what they saw. Both indicated financial factors such as cost of real estate, cost of business operations, and wages needed to hire and retain employees were utmost considerations for clients.

The city of Mandan relies heavily on the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association for primary sector business retention and recruitment – in other words, major employment generators whether that be manufacturing and processing or information technology. We work together on recruitment, retention and new entrepreneurism for other business sectors including retail and service-oriented businesses.

For more information, visit or call BMDA at 222-5530. Information about City of Mandan business development programs is posted at, or you may call 667-3485.