I will make some comparisons between communities later, but I looked at location quotients (LQ) for Grand Forks employment by sector compared to the national average. It may not come as a surprise to others, but it did surprise me, that the Grand Forks metropolitan statistical area does not have high LQs, typical of an exporting firm and part of the regional economic base, in many sectors.
It is not a surprise that retail trade is likely the best performing sector from this metric. The intention to draw in Canadian and regional shoppers to local stores is apparently successful. We have a higher share of total employment in Grand Forks in retail trade than the national average. We also have health care and social assistance in excess of national ratios.
What is important to realize is the healthcare services are a service-activity, and for retail man of the goods are not produced locally so a significant share of that final good price likely goes to a producer elsewhere. Agricultural employment in Grand Forks MSA is roughly five times the national average and so clearly counts as a part of the economic base as well.
Like I said, more to come later, maybe with pretty graphs and tables.