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Bemidji construction up so far in 2012

Construction figures are up significantly this year from 2011, thanks partly to several major projects like the DoubleTree Hotel and Sanford Health expansion.

BEMIDJI – Construction is up significantly in Bemidji, a sign to some that the economy is on the right track.

According to the city building department’s monthly construction reports, $34.8 million worth of construction has happened in the city so far this year, compared to the $16 million that happened in the first 11 months of 2011.

“I actually think that’s the beginning of the sign of some real improvement in the economy,” said Greater Bemidji Executive Director Dave Hengel.

Some of the biggest projects that contributed to this year’s encouraging numbers were the DoubleTree Hotel, FedEx’s new distribution building, and Sanford Health’s expansion. The best month in 2012 so far was August, with $17 million in construction thanks to Sanford Health and DoubleTree.

But Mike Miller, the city’s building official, noted that a lot of construction happened in all sectors, including housing, and not just in a handful of big projects.

“It’s just been kind of all the way across the board,” Miller said.

One major project absent from the construction reports that would bump that figure even higher is the pending Country Inn and Suites next to the Sanford Center. The final financing deals are being worked out with the developer on that project, which has been delayed several times.

That project has potential to spur more economic development along the city’s south shore. 

“I don’t anticipate any decline next year,” Hengel said. “If I were to predict today, I would suspect that we’ll have a better year next year just based off what I’m hearing from the major companies throughout the region.”

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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