A delegation from Telemark, Norway – a sister-region of North Dakota – is visiting the state this week to “bridge the Atlantic” and deepen cultural and business ties. The 11-person team, consisting of economic development officers, educators and government officials, make up Norway’s first official mission to North Dakota since Gov. Dalrymple and Telemark County Mayor, Terje Riis Johansen, signed a sister-region agreement in June 2013.
“Telemark County, Norway, is proud to be a long time partner to Minot and North Dakota in regards to business, education and cultural heritage,” said Thrond Kjellevold, International Advisory for Telemark County.
The basis of the sister-region agreement is that business ties should be built upon the already strong heritage and cultural relationship that exists between North Dakota and Norway. Energy plays a large role in the both region’s economies, but Norway also has business interest in the industries of clean technologies, water storage, value-added food products and fertilizer, amongst others.
Scandinavian immigrants made up a large portion of those that settled what is now North Dakota in the late 1800’s. In 1880, the census recorded 8,814 Norwegians in North Dakota, and by 1900 there were 73,744.
Today, Norwegians make up over 30 percent of North Dakota’s population, making it the largest ethnic group in the state. This heritage has been honored for the past 37 years in Minot, ND, at the annual Norsk Hostfest Scandinavian Festival. The event is North America’s largest Scandinavian festival with tens of thousands of people, from all over the world, attending each year.
The Telemark delegation will be in North Dakota until Friday to meet with businesses, schools and government officials. Thorn said the delegation is dedicated to building strong business relationships in North Dakota. “We are both open for business!” he said.