Hoeven to U. Mary Leadership Students: Have a Vision and Follow It Through the Tough Times

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today encouraged a University of Mary Leadership class of about 50 students and 100 guests to find a vision and see it through tough times to completion. He discussed his work as governor to create jobs and grow and diversify the state’s economy, and outlined his efforts in Washington to help get the nation on a fiscally sound footing again and help America win the global fight for energy leadership.

“Leadership is having the will and desire to work through the challenges, the criticism and the discouragement, until a project is completed,” he said. “A good example in our own backyard is the Northern Plains Commerce Centre, which former Mayor John Warford worked hard to make a success.”

Hoeven recalled how 10 years ago, Warford, now dean of the University of Mary’s Gary Tharaldson School of Business, and other city officials had a vision for a city-owned, 250-acre tract of land in south Bismarck that had lain idle for years. Some saw just a marshy tract of land and didn’t think it had much potential, but the mayor and city leaders saw something else – an industrial park with shovel-ready lots and facilities to ship products by rail and truck anywhere in the world. Warford and the city toughed it out through difficult times when Bobcat left and the recession hit, and today, Bobcat is back, along with other tenants, and the facility is thriving.

Building North Dakota

The senator then went on to tell students about his efforts during his years as governor to help create jobs and build North Dakota’s economy.

“Ten years ago, young people like you were leaving our state, our population was shrinking and income trailed the national average,” Hoeven said. “We wanted to turn that around and create opportunities for you here in North Dakota, so we set a course for the future. Beginning in 2001, when I first took office as governor, we implemented a plan that would grow and diversify our economy and create thousands of new jobs for our citizens.

First, he said, the state set out to build a pro-jobs, pro-growth business environment, forging a legal, tax and regulatory climate that would attract investment and stimulate innovation. Second, he and state officials worked to develop an economic development strategic plan that targeted key industries where North Dakota holds an advantage owing to our resources and our people. Those include agriculture, technology-based businesses, advanced manufacturing, tourism and energy.

“By 2010, all of these sectors were flourishing and North Dakota was leading the nation in job creation, rising incomes and economic growth,” Hoeven said. “Oil companies were leaving the state in 2001; now we’re the second largest oil and gas producing state in the country. America needs a plan, too, and we can learn from North Dakota.”

Hoeven also brought the students up to date on some of his efforts in Washington, including work to control federal spending and pass his Keystone XL pipeline approval legislation in Congress, the first bill taken up by the Senate in the new session.

Controlling Spending

With the passage of the fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bill, federal discretionary spending has been reduced by almost $400 billion below the FY2009 level, Hoeven told the students. Further, in the last four years, Congress has reduced the annual deficit by about two-thirds. Because of measures the senator has supported, such as the Budget Control Act of 2011, we have reduced our deficit from $1.4 trillion in 2009 to $483 billion in 2014.

Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Legislation

Hoeven told the students that the Keystone XL pipeline project is about jobs and economic growth, but it is also about national security through energy security. Right now, he said, we’re in a global contest with OPEC for energy leadership. It’s important that we produce more energy in our country than we use so that we can defend ourselves and our interests without the risk of being held hostage to OPEC and other hostile nations, like Russia, Northern and Western Africa and Venezuela.

The senator said the American people understand this and have made their will clear, both through their elected representatives and through numerous polls that reflect their strong support for the Keystone XL pipeline. Every state along the pipeline’s route has approved it, and the State Department has repeatedly said it will have no significant impact on the environment.

President Obama delayed this project for more than 6 years. Now, he needs to work with Congress to make a long-term strategic decision that will help to improve the nation’s economy, create jobs and make our country more secure. Approving the Keystone XL project is another important step toward our declaration of energy independence.