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Explosive Growth Causes Thief River Falls Housing Shortage - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Explosive Growth Causes Thief River Falls Housing Shortage

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  Thief River Falls, Minnesota is struggling with what its Mayor calls, a good problem.

  Jim Dagg says the phenomenal growth of local companies has caused a severe housing shortage. In fact, the City could use housing for 400 people right now.

  Digikey has already grown to 28-hundred employees. Arctic Cat has another 13-hundred next door and both companies plan to hire hundreds more this year.

  However, a severe housing crunch is hindering those new hires. Officials say there just aren't enough places for people to live in Thief River.

Rick Trontvet, Digi-Key: "Hiring employees, creating jobs is kind of a moot point, unless you have housing available for them."

  Sixty new homes have sprung up on the City's south side and 80 new apartments units are on the way. But, the Mayor says it won't come close to meeting the overall housing need.

Jim Dagg, Mayor: "We're always open to talk to developers and we'd like more developers to come and talk to us. The City has even looked at buying some property on the edge of town and helping start the development."

  Plus, the housing shortage has spilled over to Northland College in Thief River, where an Unmanned Aircraft technician program is growing by leaps and bounds and expected to draw new students from all over the Country.

Curtis Zoller, Northland Aerospace: "When I came aboard we had 7 and we have over 100 students in our program today."

Reporter: "You're expecting quite a few more in the future?"

Zoller: "That's the expectation."

  However, a partial remedy may be on the way, at least for the school.

Ann Tempte, Pres. Northland College: "It would be a long term ground lease to the developer to develop, maintain and manage housing for students on our property. That's probably going to be a 110 to 150 bed facility."

Jim Dagg, Mayor: "It's a great problem. But, I wish we would have started this 8 years ago. But we didn't."

  Currently, DigiKey runs a commuter bus that hauls 70 of its employees from Grand Forks and Crookston to Thief River, every day.

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