Think you don’t have a voice? Think again. The best way to be heard is to get involved. Join Emerging Prairie and Information Technology Council of North Dakota (ITCND) to learn what’s happening on a state level, and what that means to you. ITCND’s Jeremy Neuharth shares more in a Q and A.

What does The Information Technology Council of North Dakota (ITCND) do?
ITCND is a group of nearly 100 members organizations that focus on the three following things:
1. Advocacy: Being an advocate for ND technology interests in public policy and legislative affairs.  
** Examples include support of Operation Intern and the inclusion of technology based (CTE) classes for ND scholarship requirements. 
2. Workforce Development:  Working to create or attract technology producers to ND by removing barriers, showing opportunities, and supporting various programs.
** Examples include partnership with NDUS, DPI, & CTE.  Working on the ND math standards.  Providing scholarships.  Supporting a PLTW computer science class in four middle schools in Grand Forks.
3. Technology Champion: Supporting events and generally celebrating technology within the state
** Examples include events (State of Technology, ND IT Symposium, etc), publishing the ND Technology Guide, champion of DFI (Dakota Fiber Initiative), yearly technology awards. 
What’s the purpose of the Policy Matters discussion on November 1?
The focus of the Policy Matters event is a listening session.  We want to hear what the local technology and start-up community is struggling with when it comes to policy so that we can move those ideas forward.  We will also give a brief background of who ITCND is, what does policy advocacy include, and a few ideas to get the discussion started. Register here.
Who should come?
Anyone who wants to move technology or start-up organizations forward.  We are looking for the community to bring challenges, successes, and new ideas.  From there we can create solutions to overcome, work to enhance what is working, and present new ideas at the state level. 
Much of the focus of this specific lunch is on startups. What are the major concerns you’ve heard?
Some that come to mind from the recent past includes the following: various financing option support (tax credit, angel funds, revenue based loans), internship support, entrepreneurship programs support, continued Internet infrastructure support (tax credits, revolving loan funds, etc), net neutrality, and general workforce needs (working with NDUS, DPI, CTE, ND education standards, student loan buydown programs, etc). 
How is the ITCND working to address those?
Where we have had successes, our team continues to monitor and make sure the ideal solution remains in place.  Other items are longer term where we work with state agencies, our state legislators, and members to continue working on solutions. Either way we find that working on policy is an ongoing process.  It is sort of like mowing the lawn, you cannot ever really say that you are done. 
What can the community do about those concerns?
Community involvement is the number one thing any citizen can do.  One of the best things about North Dakota government is access.  In my experience our state lawmakers and agencies really do listen and want to make our state the best in the nation.  The ITCND Policy Matters session is a great place to get started, but for those that want to get more involved there is a wide variety of options.  Contact the ITCND.
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Ashley Thornberg