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Archives - State Agencies - Commerce, Department of

[Authorized: NDCC Chapter 54-60]

As established by law, the Department of Commerce was required to consist of four divisions and be headed by a Commissioner (S. L. 2001, Ch. 488). The Governor appointed the Commissioner with the advice and counsel of the North Dakota Development Foundation [NDCC 10-30.5]. Initially, three of the four division directors were appointed by the Governor. After August 1, 2003 the Commissioner selected three division directors, including the Division of Community Services [NDCC 55-44.5], Economic Development and Finance Division [NDCC 54-34.3], and the newly created Workforce Development Division [NDCC 54-60-09]. The Commissioner appointed the director of the Division of Tourism [NDCC 54-34.4] after August 1, 2005.   

The Commissioner has the authority to set up any other division in order to carry out the mission of the department, and is responsible for appointing personnel who are qualified to carry out departmental duties, manage the operations of the department, and oversee the divisions. The Commissioner assumes central responsibilities for developing, implementing, and coordinating a working network of commerce service providers and arranges through meetings the commerce-related services available in other state agencies. The Commissioner also communicates terms and conditions and establishes short and long term goals and objectives for the Department. Legislation allows the Commissioner to determine and enter into contracts. Reports of achievements are submitted to each house of the Legislative Assembly and to the Economic Development Foundation [NDCC 54-60-03]. Initially the Commissioner had to prepare and identify economic development moneys requested by the cabinet agencies, but this was repealed in 2009.  

As the lead agency charged by the Governor and the legislature to attract, retain, and expand wealth in North Dakota, the Department of Commerce extends services to other strategic partners such as the North Dakota Trade Office (Office of International Business and Trade), Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Center for Technology and Business, Small Business Development Center, and the North Dakota Rural Development Council. The Department of Commerce also manages the Centers of Excellence and Innovate North Dakota programs. The four divisions within the Department of Commerce join with other strategic partners in providing administrative assistance to Governor-appointed councils and commissions. Also managed by the Department of Commerce is the Rural Growth and Incentive Program [NDCC 54-34.3-13], the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency [NDCC 54-44-.5-09], and the Office of International Business and Trade.

The Commissioner serves as chairman of the Cabinet and advises and cooperates with federal and state agencies, private businesses, agricultural organizations or associations, research institutions, and with any individual or other private or public entity. The Cabinet includes the directors of each of the divisions within the Department of Commerce, and also includes all executive heads who coordinate and communicate economic development and tourism efforts with other authorized state agencies. These agencies include the Bank of North Dakota, the Departments of Agriculture, Game and Fish, and Transportation, as well as Job Service North Dakota, the state boards of Higher Education and Vocational and Technical Education, and the Workers Compensation Bureau. Others agencies may be appointed at the discretion of the Commissioner [NDCC 54-60-06]. 

Since 2001 changes have taken place in the duties of the Commissioner, the Cabinet, the Department of Commerce, and within the four divisions. In 2007 under the directive of the Commissioner several third party agreements were established to provide services to offices within the divisions. These included the North Dakota American Indian Business Development Office [NDCC 54-60-14], the Women’s Business Development Office [NDCC 54-60-15], and the International Business and Trade Office (S. L. 2007, Ch. 493). Legislation required the Commissioner to the set up an advisory board [NDCC 54-60-16], and to find ways to create innovative outreach programs including the Career Guidance and Job Opportunities website (S. L. 2007, Ch. 493). In 2009 the Rural Development Office was created (S. L. 2009, Ch. 480).

Economic Development Foundation
The structure of the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation was established by the state legislature in 1999 (S. L. 1999, Ch. 462). However it was created in 2001(S. L. 2001, Ch. 488) and composed of a minimum of fifteen and a maximum of thirty members appointed by the Governor to serve two-year terms. Approximately one-half of the initial members were appointed to one-year terms. The Foundation members elected an executive committee with a minimum of five and a maximum of seven Foundation members. The executive committee members elected a chairman, vice chairman, and a secretary. Legislation in 2007 added a treasurer and three members at large (S. L. 2007, Ch. 493). The Foundation was established to advise the Governor in selecting the Commissioner of Commerce, serve in an advisory role to the Commissioner, and develop a strategic plan for economic development. The Foundation was also required to set up a strategic plan for the development of value-added agriculture in North Dakota and to monitor tourism activities, and economic development initiatives.  Administrative expenses of the Foundation come from private sector sources [NDCC 54-60].


2001       The Commerce Department was created in 2001 (S. L. 2001, Ch. 488), absorbing three cabinet-level departments including the former Department of Economic Development and Finance, Department of Tourism, and Division of Community Services (from the Office of Management and Budget). A fourth department was created and called the Division of Workforce Development. Initially the Governor appointed the department heads. The North Dakota Economic Development Foundation was also created in 2001 (S. L. 2001, Ch. 488).

2003       After August 1, 2003 the Commissioner appointed three of the four division directors, including the Divisions of Community Services, Economic Development and Finance, and Workforce Development. Legislation amended the Rural Growth Incentive program (S. L. 2003, Ch. 478).

2005       After August 1, the Commissioner appointed the director of the Division of Tourism. Other legislation involved a number of agreements, incentives, initiatives, hearings, studies, or reports to be carried out within the programs of the divisions (S. L. 2005, Ch. 46).

2007       Legislation added three new sections to the Century Code relating to the programs of the North Dakota American Indian Business Development Office, the Women’s Business Development Office, and the International Business and Trade Office. Changes were made to the composition of Agricultural Products Utilization Committee, North Dakota Development Fund Incorporated [NDCC 10-30.3], the Board of Directors, Division of Economic Development and Finance offices, North Dakota Economic Development Foundation, the International Business and Trade office, and various training programs (S. L. 2007, Ch. 493).

2009       Legislation created and enacted two new sections to [NDCC 54-60-25] relating to the Rural Development Office and the North Dakota Rural Development Council.  Amendments to the law changed duties within the divisions of Economic Development and Finance, Tourism, Workforce Development.  Legislation offered changes to the programs of the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation and the North Dakota Commerce Cabinet. The finance office, motion picture development office, and several target industries were repealed (S. L. 2009, Ch. 480).  


32265 Administration, Commissioner's Records
Economic Development Foundation
32324 Community Services, State Building Codes
32325 Community Services, Census


North Dakota Century Code.
North Dakota Department of Commerce Website.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.

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