GF Business Report

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The beating for homebuilders is continuing as rising interest rates and home prices keep potential buyers on the sidelines. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rates on 30-year, fixed rate mortgages hit a 7-year high this week.

Minnesota's estimated workplace injury and illness rate for 2017 is at its lowest rate since the measurement started in 1973. According to the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the state had an estimated 3.3 OSHA-recordable nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers in 2017. The national rate is 3.1 cases per 100 FTE workers.

The USDA is investing $1.6 billion in 46 rural electric utility infrastructure projects to improve electric reliability and resilience in 24 states. The funding will help build or improve 5,833 miles of line. It includes $307 million in smart grid technologies, which improve system operations and monitor grid security. Minnkota Power Cooperative will use a $67.4 million loan to finance generation and transmission improvements. Minnkota provides electric services to portions of 20 counties in eastern North Dakota and 17 counties in northwestern Minnesota.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved an increase of the income limits for a program that provides down payment and closing cost assistance to households who may have previously owned a home. Almost 43,000 households have successfully achieved homeownership with North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s assistance. The Roots program’s maximum income limits were set at 200 percent of area median income - $167,800 to $193,200. The limits vary depending on the county in which the financed home is located.

September sales tax collections generated $1,786,872.97 for the city of Grand Forks. The latest check brings the year to date tally to over $17.7 million dollars. When removing the recently approved one-half percent sales tax for water and roads the amount slips to $1,360,782.51.

The Grand Forks CVB is dispersing grants to help give convention and event planners a boost. The top prize of $12,000 targets the Grand Forks Youth Hockey Association for the 2018-19 tournament season. Also receiving funding is the USA Gymnastics State Championship ($3,500)…Northern Lights Figure Skating Club ($1,500)…and UND Feast of nations ($1,500). A total of 13 organizations received assistance. The program is funded by the CVB and City of Grand Forks.

Subaru is recalling nearly 400,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix two problems that can cause them to stall. The first recall covers about 229,000 Outback and Legacy vehicles from the 2018 model year. The other recall covers the 2012 to 2014 Impreza, and the 2013 BRZ, XV Crosstrek and Toyota Scion FR-S.

North Dakota's soybean, corn, sugar beet and potato crops are expected to be similar in size to last year's crops. The Agriculture Department's latest production report estimates the state's soybean crop up 1 percent to 247 million bushels. The corn crop is forecast at 426 million bushels, down 5 percent. Nationally, farmers are expected to produce a record soybean crop and the second-largest corn crop ever.

Magic 8 Ball, Uno and pinball have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The honorees were chosen from a field of 12 finalists that also included American Girl Dolls, chalk, Chutes and Ladders, the Fisher-Price Corn Popper, Masters of the Universe, sled, tic-tac-toe, Tickle Me Elmo and Tudor Electric Football.

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