GRAND FORKS – Economic growth in Grand Forks is strong coming out of 2022, according to the mayor and the head of the local Chamber of Commerce.
Last year, the city granted building permits for projects that totaled a construction value of $440,489,957. In 2021 that overall number was $168,089,376 and in 2020, it was $256,295,102.
Barry Wilfahrt, president and CEO of the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, said the numbers reflect a strong economy in the city.
“I think it shows that the commercial development and the commercial economy is extremely strong in Grand Forks,” Wilfahrt said. “And I think anybody that just looks around the community can see all of the new buildings that are in the process of being built and you can see that building happening.”
The increase in building permits was noted by Mayor Brandon Bochenski during his State of the City address on May 10. During his speech, Bochenski said 2022’s total construction value of building permits is 100% higher than the city’s five-year average value of $221 million.
The last time the city saw higher building permit construction values was in 2014, with a total value of $366,599,640, and again in 2019, which had a total value of 329,061,146. The end-of-year value factors in building permits related to newly constructed buildings along with repairs and additions being made to existing structures.
This year, through the end of February, the building permit construction value was $8,422,392. The latest number, through May 12, is considerably higher, at $82,989,248.
Wilfahrt said the current construction boom is the most Grand Forks has experienced since the aftermath of the Flood of 1997.
Some of the ongoing projects include development specifically for retail business, such as the Grove , a 27,800-square-foot shopping center being built in south Grand Forks.
Wilfahrt said the trend toward having more stand-alone shops also has been evident in Grand Forks over the years. For example, several stores that used to be in the Columbia Mall have relocated to strip malls and store fronts.
“That is the trend, to move in that direction,” he said. “But the fact that our mall has not been able to really sustain itself, I think that trend has been embraced faster in Grand Forks than it has in other communities.”
Other ongoing construction in the city includes mixed-use development, such as the Franklin on Fourth project and The Beacon by EPIC Companies , both of which will offer retail space and apartments, and the Olive Ann boutique hotel and event center . All three projects are located downtown.
Wilfahrt said the new development downtown, including the addition of the boutique hotel and event center, will add something different to the area.
“I think that gives people another option and I think that’s going to certainly be attractive to visitors,” he said.
When looking at future growth in the city, Wilfahrt said there will need to some time to grow into the new development, especially for new housing being built in south Grand Forks.
“Again, I think the community will have to grow into what’s being built right now a little bit. And from a housing point of view, we might not see huge new housing complexes downtown, but I think you’re going to continue to see additional commercial growth around the community,” he said.
Wilfahrt said the strong economy in Grand Forks also is evident in taxable sales, which was highlighted at the State of the City address. Bochenski said that over the past three years, annual sales growth has been 11.6%, nearly doubling the rate of inflation.
“We’ve had double-digit taxable sales now for multiple years in a row and that again is evidence that our economy is really doing quite well,” Wilfahrt said.
Source: Grand Forks Herald