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The Heartland Development Bank - Economic Development on Steroids

Proposed bank key to regional economic development. The Heartland Development Bank will use public/private funds to invest in education, research and development, and critical infrastructure.

Grand Forks, ND, February 17, 2009 --( A new development bank designed to encourage investment in America’s Heartland and capitalize on the region’s huge potential in energy, agriculture and manufacturing, is the cornerstone of a recent report issued by the New America Foundation (NAF).

The Heartland Development Bank, a project first conceived by Delore Zimmerman, President of Praxis Strategy Group, and NAF senior fellow Joel Kotkin, in an NAF policy paper, will use public and private funds to make the Heartland’s emerging growth centers in the United States more productive through investment in education, research and development, and public infrastructure.

Zimmerman and Kotkin were joined by Sherle Schwenninger, Director of NAF’s Economic Growth Program, and Mayor Dennis Donohue of Salinas, California, in a detailed discussion about the proposed bank at a September 2008 roundtable event held in Washington, D.C.

Panelists focused on the need to invest in and develop the country’s vast and often overlooked interior region, noting that while thousands of Heartland communities, outside of its major metropolitan areas, possess many underutilized assets, economic development has been stymied by infrastructure inadequacies and bottlenecks.

Schwenninger pointed out that some parts of the U.S.—such as the Heartland—have had trouble financing new enterprise start-ups, business expansions and infrastructure development. Yet, said Kotkin, the region’s excellent public schools, strong employment growth, cheap land, affordable housing, and smaller communities make it attractive to those seeking to improve their quality of life. With the right mix of public policy and public and private funding, say the panelists, this region could become the next growth engine for export production, agriculture and energy.

“Despite the deepening economic turmoil and volatility in this country, the Heartland of America has been displaying new signs of life,” according to Zimmerman. “With the election of a new president, new priorities are sure to be set on several key issues, including investment in infrastructure—one of the fundamental building blocks of economic opportunity.”

The Red River Valley Research Corridor, which stretches along the Red River of the North and is anchored by two research universities, is a prime example of the success that can be achieved by making strategic investments in critical infrastructure—in this case research and production facilities.

“There’s a research park in Fargo, N.D., which six years ago was a cornfield,” continued Zimmerman. “Today, it employs between 700 and 800 people in very advanced fields in energy, nanotechnology and life sciences. A couple hundred miles away in Bismarck, N.D., we have an advanced multi-modal shipping center.”

Other areas around the country where critical infrastructure really made the difference in economic development, he added: Wenatchee, Washington, a community that landed a Yahoo data center after building a technology center that tied in with its high speed optical and cheap power, and Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, where they built a business park that capitalized on telecommunications and water waste capabilities.

“These are places where infrastructure really was the driver of economic growth. Infrastructure is the new competitive imperative, and we won’t realize the potential of the Heartland unless there is intelligent public policy and public and private investment to make it happen.”

About Praxis Strategy Group:

Praxis Strategy Group is a research and economic development strategy company nationally recognized for working with economic development organizations, engaged universities and innovators in science and technology to create enterprise opportunities. It has locations in Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D., and Duluth, Minn.

About New America

The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the Untied States. Launched in 1999, it is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and also has a significant presence in California.


For more information available online:
“Heartland Infrastructure Investment Key to the Nation’s Growth,” by Delore Zimmerman and Matthew Leiphon, available at:

Beyond Wall Street, Beyond Fannie and Freddie; video of the New America Foundation roundtable even on the Heartland Development Bank, available at:

“Financing the Productive Economy: The Heartland Development Bank,” by Delore Zimmerman and Joel Kotkin, available at:
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Praxis Strategy Group
Dave Roby

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