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Strengthening Sister City bond

An innovative waste-handling facility, a new concept in nursing home care and a proposal for a special library provided insights for an eight-member delegation that traveled from Minot to Norway in May.

Representatives from the City of Minot, Minot Area Chamber EDC, Norsk Hostfest and Minot State University traveled to Minot’s Sister City, Skien, finishing the three-day tour on Norway’s Syttende Mai, or Constitution Day, on May 17.

Brekka Kramer, president/CEO for Minot Area Chamber EDC, said the goal was not only to support cultural connections with Norway but to find areas where connections can be made in economic development and business.

Since returning, MACEDC has followed up with the state Department of Commerce and Shawn Kessel, who has assumed global engagement duties for the department. Kramer said the state hopes to bring together N.D. communities that have relationships through trade, investment or culture within foreign countries to share experiences and business practices.

“Global relations are huge, especially now that we are operating the logistics park,” Kramer said.

Minot Mayor Tom Ross cited similarities he found between Skien and Minot.

“Their focus is on their downtown. Their focus is on the center of their community and developing that and getting more people to spend more time downtown,” he said. “They’re building a state-of-the-art nursing home within blocks of the city center.”

The nursing home that is nearing completion includes concert and performance space and a community park.

“Their focus has been on bringing back the businesses into the heart and core of the community,” Kramer said. “What they are working on really reminded me a lot of the governor’s Main Street Initiative.”

The visit also included a tour of the large recycling operation headquartered in Skien, a city similar in size to Minot. Nearly all waste is recycled after being sorted by robots. Last year the operation made about a 20% profit, Ross noted.

“Even something as simple as organic waste, they process that into the fuel that they use for their city vehicles. After they are done with the byproduct there, they sell the farmers fertilizer,” he said.

Ross said he would like to continue to tap into Skien’s recycling expertise as Minot launches its curbside recycling in July.