Addressing North Dakota's workforce shortage head-on, the state legislature authorized the establishment of the Office of Legal Immigration. Commerce Workforce Deputy Director Janna Pastir envisions the new office as a key hub for workforce development.
“North Dakota’s economic growth is stymied by our lack of available workforce,” said Pastir. “We know there is immense talent beyond our borders, persons who want to work and build a life in North Dakota. Our aim is to work with numerous partner agencies and our business community in the recruitment and retention of foreign labor, as well as supporting work-authorized immigrants already here.”
North Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, yet Job Service North Dakota estimates up to 40,000 job vacancies in the state. The Office of Legal Immigration, part of the North Dakota Department of Commerce, is legislatively mandated to develop and implement a statewide strategy to support recruitment and retention of foreign labor, including immigrants already in the U.S. In addition, the Office will:
- Advise and make recommendations to the governor, legislative assembly and state agencies regarding immigrant integration and foreign labor issues
- Develop a pilot program that supports businesses pursuing or employing work-authorized immigrants and supporting communities to develop integration plans and activities
- Partner with other state agencies to develop and administer programs or services related to immigration integration.
The Office will serve as a liaison between agencies and partners that facilitate global talent and immigration activities, the governor’s office, and the legislative body. It will also provide ongoing support for and participation in the ND Global Talent Taskforce, including the initial identification and onboarding of partners. There are several steps that need to be completed before long term activities and the pilot grant program can be implemented but The Office has begun taking these steps:’
- The Office has officially onboarded Global Talent Specialist, Paige Kuntz, who will support the initial and long-term activities of The Office.
- The Office has released the Request for Proposals for a qualified vendor to complete the mandated comprehensive research study identifying how this office can best support employers, communities, individuals and families. This research will engage a variety of stakeholders, partners, national experts, employers, communities and individuals.
- The Office will utilize the research outcomes to formulate a dynamic pilot project framework that backs businesses hiring and employing global talent, communities extending a warm welcome to newcomers, and individuals and families selecting North Dakota as their new home.
For more information on the Office of Legal Immigration, visit https://www.commerce.nd.gov/workforce/office-legal-immigration.