50 Years of Building North Dakota

Twenty-nineteen marks Lewis & Clark Development Group’s 50th anniversary.

LCD Group was officially founded on March 21, 1969 with the creation of the Lewis & Clark 1805 Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D). The organization was born out of Governor William L. Guy’s vision to organize the state into eight economic planning regions.

In the years that have followed, LCD Group has become a central, and often behind-the-scenes, player in North Dakota’s economic and community development.

Today, LCD Group encompasses the collaborative work of three separate non-profit organizations: Lewis & Clark Regional Development Council (RDC), Lewis & Clark Certified Development Company (CDC), and CommunityWorks North Dakota (CWND).

Together, these entities provide businesses with loans, revolving loan funds, and the SBA 504 loan program. Local governments have come to rely on LCD Group for Community Development Block Grants for critical financing for infrastructure and public improvements. And, as the state’s only chartered NeighborWorks America® organization, LCD Group is North Dakota’s leading affordable housing finance resource.

LCD Group is responsible for over $600 million in public and private investments across our state, thousands of new and saved jobs, and affordable housing for thousands of North Dakotans.

That’s the difference LCD Group has made during the last 50 years. And it’s a difference worth celebrating.

By the Numbers: Our Impact on North Dakota


Total private, public, and philanthropic investment


Jobs created and maintained


Single- and multi-family housing units


Rental units owned or managed

Our History


First organizational meeting of a the Lewis & Clark 1805 RC&D Project held with representatives from Grant, Mercer, Morton, and Oliver counties is held on March 21.  Governor William L. Guy signs Executive Order #49 on September 18 dividing the state into eight planning regions.


Bylaws are amended to add Burleigh, Emmons, Kidder, McLean, and Sheridan Counties and include city representation to the Board of Directors.


Incorporation papers filed, changing name to Lewis & Clark 1805 Resource Conservation Planning and Development Council. Certificate of Incorporation signed by the North Dakota Secretary of State. First board meeting of the 10-county regional council held in Mandan on February 20. IRS grants 501(c)(4) designation. Lewis & Clark RC&D receives HUD designation as an Area Planning Organization. First employees are hired. John O’Leary is named executive director and is joined by project coordinator Duncan Warren and planner John Sem. 


Name change to Lewis & Clark 1805 Regional Council for Development is approved on July 10.


The Economic Development Administration designates the entire 10-county area as an Economic Development District.


Paul Rechlin becomes executive director, serving until 2014.


Name changed to Lewis & Clark Regional Development Council (RDC).


Governor Ed Schafer directs that state Community Development Block Grant funds from HUD be allocated to each of the eight regional councils, with funding decisions to be made locally by each regional council, marking the first time Lewis & Clark RDC could make its own funding decisions. Economic Development Administration (EDA) awards $500,000 grant, with $168,000 in local matching funds, helps create


CommunityWorks North Dakota is founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission of addressing housing issues, particularly for low- and moderate-income individuals. By partnering with local lenders, government officials, communities, and other interests, CommunityWorks has provided much-needed assistance and development to many families and communities across the state. CAPITAL II Revolving Loan Fund created with Rural Development approval of a $500,000 loan to the Council, which is matched with $168,000 in local funds.


CommunityWorks partnered with MetroPlains Development, a for-profit development company, to convert an abandoned, historic school house in Beulah into 28 affordable apartment units.  The “Beulah Schoolhouse Apartments” earned national and state accolades, including the HUD Top 100 Best Practices Award and the North Dakota Governor’s Award for the Best Multi-Family Project.


CommunityWorks received its first of six Champion of Affordable Housing Award from the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. It received the honors again in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.


CommunityWorks coordinated a $700,000, 72-home rehabilitation project to benefit low-income and elderly homeowners living in rural areas of the state.  To recognize this accomplishment, CommunityWorks was presented with the Award of Excellencefrom the Federal Home Loan Bank-Des Moines in 2003. CommunityWorks and MetroPlains worked together again to develop “Library Square”, a 46-unit apartment building in Mandan for low-income, elderly residents of the community.  The new building has helped to revitalize Mandan’s downtown community, which had been devastated by an underground diesel plume. 


CommunityWorks was certified as a Community Development Financial Institution(CDFI) by the U.S. Treasury Department. CommunityWorks was accepted into the NeighborWorks Campaign for Home Ownership joining 150 other organizations around the country to promote homeownership for low- and moderate-income households.


Lewis & Clark Certified Development Company (CDC) is incorporated on September 5.  Lewis & Clark CDC approves and funds its first loan.


Lewis & Clark CDC is granted IRS 501(c)3 status in January; in December, the Small Business Administration (SBA) approves certification as a Certified Development Company.


Awarded the contract to provide administration of the North Dakota Opportunity Fund (on behalf of the North Dakota Mandan Consortium,) creating a $9.7 million revolving loan fund.


Lewis & Clark CDC is granted permanent status as a Certified Development Company by SBA. Brent Ekstrom becomes only the third executive director


The organization is rebranded as the Lewis & Clark Development Group to provide a common identity reflecting the collaborative work of the Lewis & Clark Regional Development Council (RDC), Lewis & Clark Certified Development Company (CDC), and CommunityWorks North Dakota.


NeighborWorks America® gives CommunityWorks North Dakota an exemplary rating – the highest rating possible for organizations within the NWA network. Brent Ekstrom, Lewis & Clark Development executive director, wins the National NeighborWorks Association Emerging Network Leader Award for improving and deepening CommunityWorks’ response to affordable housing and community development throughout North Dakota.


Lewis & Clark Development Group celebrates 50 years since the founding of the Lewis & Clark 1805 RC&D Project. Ground is broken on Century Cottages in Bismarck. The $8.5 million project, another collaboration between CommunityWorks and Mountain Plains Equity Group, will provide a 35-apartment complex for seniors and those who need assistance to live independently. CommunityWorks also partners with Missouri Slope Areawide United Way to create a new ‘Center for Opportunity’ to help address homelessness


Lewis & Clark Development Group spearheads economic response and recovery efforts for businesses and communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. North Dakota Opportunity Fund (NDOF) Disaster Loan Assistance Program is launched to help small businesses. Lewis & Clark RDC receives funds through the federal CARES Act to coordinate economic recovery, response, and resiliency programs in Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer,

Thank you to our Staff

As we celebrate 50 years helping North Dakota grow, we would like to thank and acknowledge all of the amazing people who have been involved throughout the years. The impact we have made was only possible through our dedicated and hardworking staff. Thank you!

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