Meanwhile, a variety of corporate expansions in North Dakota have boosted employment without any one project being held up as having made the difference. Among the expanding companies over the past year have been Caterpillar (250 new jobs), Monsanto (20), Phoenix International (60), and Amazon (200). Microsoft, while not adding new jobs over the past year, has just completed an 185,000-square-foot expansion of operations in North Dakota,
and Paul Lucy, director of Economic Development and Finance for the state’s Department of Commerce, says he expects the company will be adding people shortly to fill out that space.
The widespread business expansion, according to Lucy, results from several factors: “Besides the high-level productivity that people get out of North Dakota, it also is the result of a financially stable state that has a significant billion-dollar-plus budget surplus and has reduced taxes both for individuals and corporations to the tune of over $1 billion over the last three legislative sessions, so our companies have confidence while they’re doing their expansions that their tax liabilities are not going to go up.”
Railroads’ Economic Contribution
Additionally, the railroad industry has made a very significant impact on growth in the Plains States. BNSF Railway Company announced plans to invest $202 million on maintenance and rail capacity improvement, including a second-mile line track in the Grand Island, Nebraska, area, and a replacement for BNSF’s bridge over the Missouri River at Plattsmouth, Nebraska, plus an expansion of its locomotive shop and car shop in Lincoln.
At the same time, Union Pacific announced an investment of $1 billion in Nebraska to be expended over the next several years
, including an expansion of its North Platte rail yard, new crew change buildings, and a bridge over the Elkhorn River.