One of the most common questions that I get asked is, “So, what’s going on in Bismarck-Mandan?”
It’s an honest question; people are always curious about what’s new and exciting in our community. What’s different in how I answer that question now versus a year ago, though, is North Dakota’s Gateway to Science.
I should actually back up even further, all the way back to 1994 when the then Gateway to Science was created right here in Bismarck-Mandan. At that time, the organization started operations in Gateway Mall, and ten years later moved into the space it currently occupies in the Tom & Frances Leach High Prairie Arts & Science Complex. A dedicated group of volunteers and supporters saw a need in the community and were determined to meet it, head on. Thankfully, they were successful in doing so and Gateway to Science grew into a facility that attracted kids, students, and families from all across North Dakota.
However, as Gateway to Science grew, so did the needs of our State. And once again, North Dakota’s Gateway to Science and their supporters were prepared to meet those needs in the form of a brand new facility overlooking the Missouri River. This new facility will house an expanded, interactive exhibit gallery with exhibits on energy, healthcare, transportation and more. The facility will also include an education wing with a laboratory classroom and additional classrooms, outdoor learning areas, and a flexible maker space for all ages.
What’s more is that in constructing this new facility where they are, North Dakota’s Gateway to Science is helping address our economy’s greatest challenge: workforce. There are more than 3,400 open jobs and many of them require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. These skills are universal, transferable, and adaptable. So what better place to learn them than at North Dakota’s Gateway to Science?
Just as exciting is that the new facility is located on the BSC campus alongside other innovative workforce development solutions such as the Bismarck Public Schools Career Academy and BSC’s planned polytechnic building. All of these facilities combined will keep Bismarck-Mandan at the forefront of workforce development for years to come and consequently, our community growing for years to come.
Over the past 27 years, North Dakota’s Gateway to Science has grown and changed along with the community. What hasn’t changed is the mission, to inspire the discovery of science through hands-on experiences. Fortunately, it won’t change any time soon either.
Brian Ritter, President & CEO
Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC