Hoeven: Technology is the Third Wave in North Dakota's Economic Growth
Senator Kicks off Sixth Annual State of Technology Conference with Brad Smith, President of Microsoft; Highlights DCN, Aldevron Announcements as Examples of ND’s Tech Growth, Success
FARGO, N.D. – While kicking off the 2016 State of Technology Conference in Fargo today, Senator John Hoeven stressed the importance of technology-based companies in growing North Dakota’s economy, with tech serving as the third wave following growth in the state’s agriculture and energy industries. Hoeven pointed to major announcements made today by the Dakota Carrier Network (DCN) and Aldevron as markers of the state’s continued success in this field. The senator said these developments showcase how private industry and government partners are deploying high-tech infrastructure around the state and then leveraging that infrastructure to develop innovative solutions to problems around the world.
“North Dakota’s tech sector is the third wave in our state’s economic growth,” Hoeven said. “We worked hard to ensure our state has the kind of environment that empowers businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive. We continue to see the benefits of that approach in the growth of North Dakota’s dynamic and innovative technology-based companies and startups, which are the next big opportunity for our state’s economy. We host this conference each year to highlight our homegrown innovators, who are tackling challenges around the world while providing good-paying jobs and opportunities for our residents. This has produced tangible results, such as the Dakota Fiber Initiative, which is deploying the infrastructure we need to sustain and grow our tech sector’s success into the future.”
DAKOTA FIBER INITIATIVE ANNOUNCEMENT
Following Hoeven’s opening remarks, DCN announced exciting new developments in the Dakota Fiber Initiative (DFI), which arose out of a challenge made by Doug Burgum during the 2013 State of Technology Conference. DCN and its 15 owner companies have undertaken two initiatives that will ensure North Dakotans have access to the most advanced broadband technology services, including:
• The launch of statewide Wi-Fi for their customers.
• The opening of two Enterprise Class Data Centers, which leverage the state’s aggressive investment in fiber optic facilities to position North Dakota as a viable option for major Cloud Service Providers.
Hoeven has worked since his time as governor to position the state for growth in the technology sector, which he named as one of the state’s five targeted industries for growth. Now, through his role on the Senate Agriculture Committee and Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has supported federal investments in the nation’s rural broadband infrastructure, which has served as an important part of DFI’s success.
Since DFI was launched in 2013, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has invested $80.7 million in loans and $11.5 million in grants to support the deployment of broadband services in North Dakota. The private sector has responded to these investments, with a wide range of providers now offering gigabit internet service in both rural and non-rural communities across the state. As a result, North Dakota has the highest percentage of residents with fiber-to-the-home service.
ALDEVRON ADVANCING BIOTECH
Aldevron, another of today’s highlighted companies, announced that it has successfully advanced a vaccine for malaria into the final stage of testing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Aldevron is a growing biotech company based in Fargo with locations around the world that serves as a critical supplier of products used in the treatment of diseases with significant unmet needs. Senator Hoeven supported the company’s successful bid in 2012 for a $1.8 million grant from the Naval Medical Logistics Command to develop the vaccine.
The grant helped Aldevron build its capabilities in pharmaceutical manufacturing, which have been leveraged into tens of millions of dollars in subsequent business and support the company’s continued growth. Aldevron has begun plans for a new 50,000 sq. ft. facility in the Fargo area that will serve as its corporate headquarters and main production facility.
SIXTH ANNUAL STATE OF TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE
Hoeven and the Fargo Moorhead Chamber of Commerce host the State of Technology Conference each year to highlight local technological innovations in North Dakota. The theme of this year’s conference is “Local innovators solving global challenges” and features Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft, as its keynote speaker.
Smith, who attended today’s conference at Hoeven’s invitation, spoke on the opportunities and challenges presented by the digital era, including threats to security and privacy and implications for the future education and training of tomorrow’s workforce. Microsoft is the region’s largest tech employer and has 900 employees and 700 vendors in Fargo, which serves as the company’s second largest campus and one of its strategic North American research and development centers.
The conference was emceed by Camille Grade and Jake Joraanstad of Myriad Mobile, which was recently recognized as a top app developer in the Minneapolis region and is among the fastest growing companies in the country. The conference also included addresses from Mukai Selewki, CEO of Webblen and the winner of the Chamber’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy this year, and Neil Brackin, President of Weather Modification, Inc., which uses cloud seeding technology to modify weather patterns worldwide, including to help combat drought and famine.
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