Have you noticed the conversations about Minot’s future ramping up? That’s a byproduct of election season, but it’s also a sign that people are more engaged with what’s happening in town. The conversations invite the questions of where we’re headed and how are we going to get there.
Certainly, those answers and our community direction are in the mill and they’ll be turned out through various political and collaborative processes. But more interesting to me is the idea of where we set our eyes as inspiration and what tools and methods will we use in getting there?
Here’s my hunch: if Minot’s going to separate itself from the other large cities in North Dakota, in Minnesota, in South Dakota, and in Montana, we’re going to do so by blazing a few new trails. In other words, we’re going to have to develop a competitive advantage and then capture it.
Over the past few years, I’ve watched how our community is shaped by decisions of other places. When a policy change or new practice is considered locally, we’re careful to look at how Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks are approaching the same issue, but it’s rare that we step out of line and advance a new idea.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to look around at how other places solve problems, but when it comes to our future, I’m not sure fourth place in North Dakota is good enough. The situation reminds me a bit of this scene from Moneyball. Be warned, the clip below is R-rated for its profane honesty.
We’ve got some pretty substantial financial challenges in terms of paying for flood protection and NAWS and we need to be mindful of keeping Minot an affordable place to live. In other words, money is a huge issue in Minot. But we also have the gift that is the NDR grant. Those resources are a huge leg up if we can apply them as true difference makers.
What I’m quite certain of — we won’t be able to attract new businesses, we won’t be able to infill our ready-to-build lots, we won’t make a difference in retaining our youth and talent, we won’t be able to afford flood protection and NAWS, and we won’t make the progress and capture the growth we desperately need if we do things the way we’ve always done them.