Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Emerging Digital Academy, a 20-week coding program operated by Emerging Prairie in Fargo, will receive a $100,000 grant to provide scholarships and outreach for displaced workers seeking to develop the technical skills needed to make a career change in the state. Hoeven made the announcement while delivering keynote remarks at the academy’s first-ever graduation. The award was made available through the ND Smart Restart Technical Skills Grant Program, which was established using federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

During his remarks, the senator highlighted his efforts both as governor and a U.S. Senator to build the state’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry. Specifically, Hoeven worked to bring together a unique mix of state, federal, private and university partners to create a nationally-significant UAS test site and Grand Sky, a first-of-its-kind UAS research and technology park.

Similarly, Hoeven outlined the importance of programs like the Emerging Digital Academy and Emerging Prairie’s Grand Farm imitative to the future of the state’s technology sector, which serves as the third wave in North Dakota’s economic growth, following expansions in agriculture and energy. Hoeven said initiatives like these will position the Red River Valley to have a nationally-recognized hub for tech entrepreneurship. To this end, Hoeven is working to:

  • Secure federal support for Emerging Prairie’s Grand Farm initiative.
  • Invest in broadband infrastructure to ensure the technologies developed by the initiative, like precision agriculture, can be implemented.
  • Support the success of the state’s tech entrepreneurs.

"This newly-established, specialized program comes at a critical time for North Dakota, supporting the continued growth of our tech sector and providing a path to new career opportunities for our residents,” said Hoeven. “We congratulate all members of the Emerging Digital Academy’s first graduating class, and we welcome this award of CARES Act funding to the program to help it expand its services. Just as we did with UAS in Grand Forks, we are working to make the Fargo region a unique hub for tech entrepreneurs. Accordingly, we will continue our efforts with Emerging Prairie, Grand Farm and others to help our entrepreneurs succeed and to realize the economic benefits of tech development, both for traditional industries, like agriculture and energy, and newer sectors, like unmanned aerial systems and automation.”

Grand Farm

The Grand Farm initiative seeks to develop and demonstrate the next generation of precision agriculture. This will help to address challenges faced by farmers here at home and globally, improving efficiency, lowering operating costs and increasing yields.

As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured $5 million for the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program, which supports innovation clusters in rural regions, and included language in annual funding legislation to prioritize projects like Grand Farm. Hoeven continues working with the administration to implement the RISE program, with a request for applications expected later this year.

Rural Broadband

Further, the senator has secured more than $1.6 billion across fiscal years 2018-2020 for the ReConnect Program, a rural broadband loan and grant pilot program. The senator also cosponsored:

  • The Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, which passed as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, to ensure adequate broadband access in rural areas.
  • The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which was signed into law in March, to improve federal broadband mapping.
  • These efforts will help ensure enough capacity is available to implement precision agriculture technologies.

Tech Entrepreneurship

Hoeven is advancing measures like the Support Our Start-Ups Act, bipartisan legislation he introduced with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) to enable entrepreneurs to deduct more of the start-up costs for their business and invest more into their operations sooner. The senator also helped introduce the Portable Benefits for Independent Workers Pilot Program Act. This bipartisan bill would make portable benefits more accessible for entrepreneurs and provide greater certainty for them and their families.