Bismarck: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Bismarck has a strong, diversified economy that has been continually expanding since the 1980s. As the capital city of North Dakota, it serves as a major hub for government, business and finance; it is also a major distribution center for the agricultural industry. Services and retail trade continue to dominate the local market, together employing more than 50 percent of the non-agricultural workforce.

The state government is Bismarck's largest employer with more than 4,300 workers. The health care industry is second; MedCenter One and St. Alexius hospitals and their related clinics employ more than 4,100. Bismarck Public Schools and the federal government each employ more than 1,000 people.

Items and goods produced: energy (coal, natural gas), food and food products, heavy equipment

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

Interest buydowns, reduced interest loans, grants, exemptions, and other financial incentives are available through the Bismarck Vision Fund. Other local sources of funding include micro-loan programs that provide short-term loans of $15,000 to $25,000 with a bank turndown at standard bank rates; the Bismarck Loan Pool, a group of local lending institutions and utilities; Bismarck Industries, Inc., which offers supporting participation in construction or leasing of buildings and equipment purchase; and the Small Business Investment Company, a private investment firm that uses its own funds plus money backed by federal Small Business Administration guarantees to make capital investments in small businesses. The Bismarck-Mandan Development Association can help new and expanding companies negotiate preferred terms or grants from local service providers.

State programs

North Dakota is the only state in the nation to control its own development bank. The Bank of North Dakota (BND) arranges financing for the MATCH program, aimed at attracting financially strong companies to North Dakota via loans and low interest rates. The BND also administers the Business Development Loan Program, for new and existing business with higher risk levels; and the PACE fund, which targets community job development. The North Dakota Development Fund provides "gap financing" to primary sector businesses. The SBA 504 Loan Program offers long-term, fixed asset financing in partnership with private lenders; the borrower provides 10 percent in cash equity. The SBA 7(a) Loan Program is available to small businesses unable to obtain financing in the private credit marketplace.

Job training programs

Job Service North Dakota administers state- and federally-funded workforce training programs including customized training, on-the-job training, occupational upgrading and Workforce 2000 employee training. The North Dakota New Jobs Training Program provides incentives to businesses that create new employment opportunities in the state. Bismarck State College and the University of Mary are both recognized for meeting the needs of Bismarck-area business and industry; both institutions also offer scholarships and grants for expanding businesses requiring employee training.

Development Projects

The new $25 million Bismarck Airport Terminal opened as scheduled in May 2005; the state-of-the-art facility incorporates high ceilings and glass walls in an "open spaces" concept designed to complement its prairie setting. Gateway to Science recently moved to a new location in the High Prairie Arts and Science Complex, the first phase of a planned expansion project that will include a larger gallery, laboratory, classrooms, exhibit space and a community meeting facility. The Capital Area Transit fixed-route public bus system was launched in May 2004.

Economic Development Information: Bismarck/Mandan Chamber of Commerce, 2000 Schafer Street, Bismarck, ND, 58501; telephone (701)223-5660; fax (701)255-6125

Commercial Shipping

The city of Bismarck lies at the intersection of Interstate 94 and U.S. Highway 83. Bismarck is served by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company and Dakota, Missouri Valley, and Western Rail. Air freight service is available at the Bismarck Airport.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Employment in Bismarck is provided by state and federal government, energy companies, trade, transportation, and health services. Growing fields include data processing and customer service. Statewide, agriculture and tourism are top industries.

The 2003 Bismarck-Mandan Labor Study reports high workforce productivity and credits a well-educated population combined with a Midwest work ethic. The local work-force is also considered loyal and dependable; 85.2 percent of employers report daily absenteeism below 6 percent and the average length of employment at the current job is more than 8 years.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Bismarck metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 55,200

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 3,100

manufacturing: 2,900

trade, transportation and utilities: 11,400

information: 1,500

financial activities: 3,000

professional and business services: 4,700

educational and health services: 9,400

leisure and hospitality: 5,000

other services: 2,900

government: 2,700

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.35 (statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 3.9% (February 2005)

Bismarck: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
State of North Dakota 4,309
MedCenter One Health Systems 2,250
St. Alexius Medical Center 1,900
Bismarck Public Schools 1,506
Federal Government 1,198
Bobcat/Ingersoll Rand 867
City of Bismarck 444
University of Mary 400
Basin Electric Power Cooperative 399
Wal Mart 380

Cost of Living

Bismarck-Mandan ranks consistently high in quality of life surveys. In 2003 Expansion Management magazine listed the Bismarck MSA among its "Five Star Communities;" Bismarck also ranked second in a Harvard University study of "community attitudes and civic engagement." North Dakota was recognized as the safest state in the nation in seven of the past eight years.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Bismarck area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $220,000

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 93.1 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 2.1% to 5.54%

State sales tax rate: 5%

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1%

Property tax rate: 483.72 mills per $1,000 (2003)

Economic Information: Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce, 2000 Schafer Street, PO Box 1675, Bismarck, ND, 58502-1675; telephone (701)223-5660; fax (701)255-6125