Attracting, retaining and developing the right talent: North Dakota’s Career Builder Program

Attracting, retaining and developing the right talent: North Dakota’s Career Builder Program Main Photo

18 Apr 2022


It is phenomenal how much of a productivity boost an organization can get from using the right talent as a resource.  In a recent study of more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and athletes it was found that high performers are 400 percent more productive than average ones. Studies of businesses not only show similar results but also reveal that the gap rises with a job’s complexity. In highly complex occupations, like software developers, for example, high performers are an astounding 800 percent more productive.**

The Career Builder Program at North Dakota: a win-win for businesses, students, employees, and the state!

The ND Career Builders program provides matching funds to help North Dakota businesses recruit employees and keep our talent in North Dakota. Businesses in North Dakota are welcome to participate and invest in this unique partnership.

The Career Builder program is a unique tool that helps businesses  to recruit and retain talent in high-need occupations. How it works is that this innovative partnership provides $1 of state funds for each $1 of private-sector matching funds, up to a total of $17,000 per recipient. Individuals can receive a scholarship on the front end, loan repayment on the back-end, or both, for their commitment to the state to fill one of the high-demand occupations. A sure win-win for businesses, students, employees, and the state!

If you are a business in North Dakota you can participate in this unique partnership. The program is designed to fill positions at your business or grow businesses across the state. Driven by high-demand occupations in healthcare, manufacturing, IT, industrial and skilled trades, education, social services and professional services, investors can contribute to specific colleges, programs, or students.

Some details of the program:

  • Upon application and prior to each payment, applicants will be required to provide:
    • Proof of residing in ND.
    • Verification of employment within ND in a high-need occupation.
    • Proof of degree completion.
    • A current student loan billing statement from their lender.
    • Commitment from a private-sector donor to match state dollars.
  • Applicants newly hired into their high-need occupation within ND will be considered.
  • Since this is a public-private program, payments will only be made if the private-sector match is received.
  • Payments may not exceed $5,667 per year, or one-third of the applicant’s outstanding student loan principal balance at the time of application, whichever is less.  Maximum eligibility is $17,000.

Loan Repayment Details:

  • Graduates of any program of study may apply for the ND Career Builders Loan Repayment by completing the application with their employer.
  • Eligible loans include:
    • FEDERAL Subsidized Student Loans
    • Federal Unsubsidized Student Loans
    • Federal Consolidated Student Loans
    • Perkins Loans
    • Bank of ND DEAL loan or CEAL education loan
    • Other private alternative student loans.  Other private loan/debt that is not a “student loan”, such as  home equity, credit card debt, or other consolidated debt that is no longer a “student loan”, will not be considered.

Helping the Career Builder Program to succeed in the Forward Devils Lake Region

As Executive Director of Forward Devils Lake Corporation, Brad Barth has helped to facilitate and coordinate business attraction, retention as well as workforce development efforts for the Devils Lake Region. He says that, prior to the Career Builder program being introduced the Devils Lake region had its own regional Student loan repayment program; they have continued to use the Career Builder Scholarship & Loan Repayment program from its inception, combining both the programs to maximize efforts here in the Devils Lake region.

According to Barth, the greatest benefit to the economic development organization from being involved in the ND Career Builder program has been the ability to maximize the local community and business dollars, by retaining and aligning the community’s youth in careers beneficial to the youth and the region.

Why are businesses and private-sector dollars needed for the program to succeed?

The ND Career Builders Program is a partnership between business and the state. The ND University System (NDUS) cannot issue payment without private-sector dollars being received. Scholarship or loan repayment dollars issued by businesses are doubled using the ND Career Builder program. Private-sector donors can contribute to specific colleges, programs, or students. 

Are you a business owner in North Dakota? Would you like to participate in the Career Builder program - attract talent and retain it, so that your business can grow and succeed? Contact Brad Barth, Executive Director of Forward Devils Lake Corporation:; or on (701) 662-4933 (Office) or on (701) 230-3078 (Cell).

Learn more at or contact NDUS directly by phone at 701-328-2906 or email at A donation form can be found at

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