Grand Forks (population 52,838) is a city within the state of North Dakota. It serves as the county seat of Grand Forks County. Greater Grand Forks, also referred to as The Grand Cities, consists of Grand Forks and the twin city of East Grand Forks, Minnesota. The Grand Forks, ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of nearly 100,000.
Grand Forks is situated within the Red River Valley on the banks of the Red River. This is a low-lying area subject to flooding. In 1997, a great flood struck the area, the most severe ever since 1826. The early French fur traders named the town Les Grandes Fourches. It was founded at the fork of the Red Lake River and the Red River by Alexander Griggs, a steamboat captain, and incorporated in the year 1881. Agriculture quickly flourished within the fertile valley soil.
The City of Grand Forks is dependent upon industries like defense, health care, food processing, manufacturing, higher education and scientific research. Within Grand Forks, no specific sector dominates the economy. Altru Health System is the city's biggest private employer. The University of North Dakota, in downtown Grand Forks, is a major center of higher education, the oldest such institution in the state, and the biggest employer within the metro area. A big percentage of jobs within the Grand Forks region are provided by state and federal government employers. West of Grand Forks is Grand Forks Air Force Base, that provides a huge number of jobs for both enlisted personnel and civilian workers. Grand Forks is accessed by Grand Forks International Airport and Grand Forks Air Force Base.
Significant manufacturing firms located within the city produce wind turbines and aircrafts, amongst other products. Food processing businesses include J. R. Simplot Company. The North Dakota Mill and Elevator is a state-owned flour mill and is the largest in the country. There are major call centers within the city. Locally owned businesses comprise Home of Economy, Hugo's supermarkets and Alerus Financial.
The city boasts many fine cultural and sports venues, like the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Chester Fritz Auditorium and Alerus Center. The North Dakota Museum of Art is among many art galleries.