Hennen: A new investment from the Legacy Fund for the next Disney World or Aldevron?
Brian Lunde, a Jamestown native and longtime Democratic campaign manager in Washington, DC, is back in Jamestown. He’s hatching a plan to get that $ 60 million to $ 70 million project off the drawing board. The amusement park would be right off I-94, a busy spot near the world’s largest buffalo. It is a big and bold idea that deserves serious consideration for the tourist interests of the state.
The backers of Lunde and Bison World are hoping for investments thanks to new legislation recently passed by the North Dakota Legislature. House Bill 1425 was one of the most innovative laws passed this year thanks to the efforts of Representative Mike Nathe, R-Bismarck, Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread and Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford. They were champions of this vision and legislative leaders from both houses helped craft the plan which was also signed and endorsed by Governor Doug Burgum.
HB 1425 is setting aside 10% of the principal of the Legacy Fund, the North Dakota Oil and Gas Development Bounty, to protect taxpayers from politicians’ zeal to spend whatever is in the pot. The first 10% is for equity investments and the remaining 10% is for fixed income opportunities.
North Dakota lacks capital for venture capital finance projects. It puts us behind bigger states and risk-strapped entrepreneurs who take risks.
Imagine if this program had existed when Carrington, ND, native Michael Chambers and his NDSU student colleague John Ballantyne were looking for capital for the company they founded, North Dakota’s first biotech company, Aldevron. Chambers and Ballantyne, as well as the first investors, have just announced plans to sell Danaher, a company with 59,000 employees, for nearly $ 10 billion. Yes, $ 10,000,000,000. Staggering. The entire Legacy Fund has $ 8.3 billion.
Taxpayers can now invest in starting and maintaining businesses in North Dakota, providing career opportunities. The State Investment Board is in the process of formulating the review process for these projects. The SIB has been the subject of criticism online and in editorials. The allegation is that the state is being poorly served by its investment adviser, Callan. Newly elected state treasurer Thomas Beadle has investigated concerns over the “conflict of interest” allegations and is pleased with their responses. The company has a long, three-decade track record that includes above-average performance since the 2008 market crash. And the state pension fund does well among peer states, according to Godfread.
The root of this controversy seems to come from some supporters of the Bison World project. This is a classic strategy of complaining to the referees (SIB, investment advisers), before the game starts. Lunde tells me that Eide Baily is preparing a financial analysis that predicts up to 14% return on investment in Bison World.
As pro forma, Bison World should have no problem attracting private capital and bank financing. The Legacy Fund should be reserved for Aldevron’s next opportunity and big paying jobs, not roller coaster operators.
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio show “What’s On Your Mind?” »The AM 1100″ The Flag “, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO” The Flag “and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at [email protected]