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Details on our downtown developments

August 10th, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

Written by Katie Mastel, Public Policy Coordinator

At our August Downtown Developments-focused Eggs & Issues, we welcomed in three community leaders to share about our three downtown communities. We were joined by Fargo Downtown Community Partnership President & CEO, Melissa Rademacher, West Fargo Economic Development & Community Service Director, Matthew Marshall, and Downtown Moorhead Inc. President & CEO, Derrick LaPoint. These three leaders gave an excellent presentation regarding the growth, challenges and exciting plans for our vibrant downtowns.

August 2018 eggs and issues

Rademacher began remarks about Fargo’s downtown by giving kudos to the Business Improvement District and the work that they do in order to carry out their mission to clean, maintain and provide a safe environment in downtown Fargo. She also touched on the importance of Renaissance zones, noting the impact they have had on downtown Fargo as “revitalization and development right outside our door!” She also encouraged visitors of downtown to check out the new parking ramp that has 455 parking spots. She concluded her remarks on the exciting downtown happenings noting the dynamic and culture of downtown Fargo citing simply the addition of three new ice cream shops contributing greatly to this feel.

LaPoint made mention to many new and exciting projects underway in Moorhead. Expressing his passion for downtown Moorhead to be a place of interest, he presented a plethora of projects in the works to enhance underutilized properties and boost commercial and retail properties in Moorhead. One interesting project they are working on is repainting the corridor on the bridge from Northern Pacific Ave in Fargo to Center Ave in Moorhead in order to create one lane each way and add a center turn lane. He added that “traffic data justified this change dramatically” saying that this project is “creating a more appropriate corridor.”

Marshall started off simply urging those who haven’t been down Sheyenne Street recently to check it out as they will notice it is dramatically different with a “completely different feel than it was even a year ago.” He noted the Sheyenne plaza being completed and another building under construction. He emphasized the importance of creating a community space noting that we have to “activate the space.” Excited for what the future brings he spoke of a grant that they just received from the state of North Dakota through the Governor’s Main street initiative saying, “this grant is a huge win for the city,” noting how it will allow for changes to the roads making for a more appropriate corridor as well as adding parking and walkability downtown.

When discussing the challenges that these three downtown areas were up against, all three leaders spoke optimistically about finding solutions to create success despite some unfavorable variables. On the Fargo side, Rademacher spoke of the importance of getting the right people at the table for discussions surrounding important topics such as liquor licenses and food trucks. The largest challenge that she noted, saying that it remains a challenge for many communities, is affordable office space and housing options. Looking ahead though, she ensured an effort to work more closely with Moorhead to “activate the river and embrace it” especially, as she admitted, due to the lack of green space Fargo has. In addition to this exciting news, she spoke about the plan to bring more art to downtown Fargo. Many of these kinds of exciting plans as well as a strong digital marketing plan are part of the Downtown in Focus plan that Rademacher referenced throughout the presentation. For the individual looking to contribute to this downtown development, she spoke of the downtown local gift cards that can be used at many downtown locations. She recognized this as a wonderful way to invest back into downtown Fargo.

On the Moorhead side, the largest challenge was to the surprise of almost none, the railroad tracks. LaPoint is determined to work around that challenge and ensure a strong downtown Moorhead. Another obstacle that he referenced was a lack of buildings and residents in the downtown Moorhead area. Keeping with a positive theme, however, he echoed Rademacher’s comments about the river, claiming we need to “view the river as a seam and not a boundary or barrier.” He finished his remarks speaking of the importance of a collective vision and “striving toward the same common goal and making it happen.”

For West Fargo, the theme of transportation was also spoken about as a challenge, however it isn’t railroads presenting a challenge, as Marshall explained, it is the lack of on street parking. Marshall talked about the obstacles that narrow sidewalks and wide roadways with little to no on street parking present. He said looking into the future he wants to be sure to include the “right mix of walkability and parking.” Marshall expressed excitement of the future of West Fargo though it presents many unique challenges that are different than its neighboring cities.

The recurring theme of the session was an optimistic vision for vibrant successful downtown communities. Looking at the recent improvements, projects underway and future plans, one can only agree these leaders are certainly going down the right avenue to create such downtown environments. Be sure to check out all that these downtown communities have to offer as well as be on the lookout for the exiting projects coming our way!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE SLIDESHOW.

Check out these Tweets from attendees!

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Small Not-for-Profit of the Year: Emergency Food Pantry

August 1st, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

Many of us probably take food for granted without worrying about where our next meal will come from. But for those in different situations, the Emergency Food Pantry is there for those in need. It’s a small organization with only three employees, but about 140 volunteers, making a big difference.

Founded in 1972 in a Moorhead basement, they know what it’s like to get through tough times. The idea of the Emergency Food Pantry was born in a college class, and came to fruition through the efforts of a college professor, Volunteers for Community Service, and the United Way. Ultimately, it became an independent entity relying on donations of food, dollars and volunteer time.

Today, their main purpose is to provide a cart of food to those in need. But it’s not just food that they offer. You can also find them providing toilet paper, soap and diapers, and all with a high level of compassion.

Three years ago, they received a grant through Vitamin Angels that allowed them to make way for a new program that offers free vitamins to pregnant and nursing women. This helps support strong, healthy development during the critical early years.

The Emergency Food Pantry celebrated its 45th year of service in 2017. And, they’ve seen a 30% increase in the number of households served since 2013. They offer food baskets Monday through Friday. Each day they provide a cart of food to approximately 60 households.

Each person that seeks food has a unique situation, but one common theme is their monthly bills are larger than their income. Many families come in when one small setback impacts their life. One recent family had one car and the parents worked opposite shifts in order to not have daycare. Living paycheck to paycheck, they often have tight months. Having to replace their car battery was enough of a crisis that they needed to choose between the car battery and food. The Emergency Food Pantry provided the family with a week’s worth of food to help them through their financial crisis.

The Emergency Food Pantry invites you to the following upcoming events in which you can learn more about the hunger needs in the community.

The Emergency Food Pantry is a food distribution program whose mission is to provide nutritious food and non-food items to all persons in need in Cass and Clay Counties and surrounding area. Their goal is to provide families and individuals facing emergency situations with one week’s supply of healthy food. 

Want to learn more or help out? Call 701-237-9337 or visit emergencyfoodpantry.com.

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Frank Abagnale presents on “Stealing Your Life”

July 25th, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

Yesterday, former con man turned FBI consultant, speaker, author and inspiration for the famed movie Catch Me If You Can, Frank Abagnale visited Fargo to present to an audience of about 1,000 people on how to protect themselves from fraud and scams.

Frank abagnale on stage

We were proud to host Abangale with the help and sponsorship of AARP North Dakota and their Fraud Watch Network.

Abagnale captivated the audience with his tales of travel, forgery and deception, and ultimately arrest, extradition and time in prison. Of course that has since turned into sharing his expert knowledge with businesses, government organizations and crowds.

Abagnale maintains he always knew he’d get caught, and today he uses his actions to excuse his prior actions by lecturing and writing on the subject. But the most important thing to him is to simply be a good husband and father.

So what did he share about fraud today with us?

With billions of U.S. dollars being lost in white collar crime and advancements in technology and ingenuity of thieves, Abagnale says it’s more important than ever for consumers and businesses to stay vigilant. Frankly, some of the stats are scary.

  • $200 billion has been lost due to Medicare fraud
  • There is a victim of identity theft every two seconds
  • Children are sought-after victims of identity theft because criminals can use their identity for long periods of time before the theft is detected or credit is checked. (He recommends the service LifeLock to monitor children’s social security number use.)
  • A projected $6 trillion will be lost from the world economy by 2020 due to cyber crime
  • There are 5,000 new phishing incidents every day

“Hackers do not cause breaches; people do!” Abagnale said. “Every breach happens because someone in a company or home does something they’re not supposed to, or doesn’t do something they were supposed to.”

Today’s technology makes it easier than ever for hackers to locate access points in your home or business and use social engineering to breach your information and start collecting. Never assume it can’t happen to you. Hackers wait for doors to open, and there are a lot of doors in the world today. But there are ways you can lessen your risk.

Catch some of these tricks he shared to outsmart scammers!

  • Never list your place or date of birth online (these are the two most important pieces of information scammers need to steal your identity)
  • Do not post head-on shots of your face on social media (something that could pass as an ID photo)
  • Shred all papers that contain valuable information with a secure micro-cut shredder (not a straight-cut or cross-cut)
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service
  • Don’t write checks or use debit cards; credit is everything and is the most secure form of payment (this way the liability is on the credit card company and not your own money)
  • The longer you are on the line with a robocaller, the more information they’re collecting on you. Hang up and verify before telling them anything!
  • Don’t use public WiFi to look up or send your valuable information (no wiring money or inputting your Social Security number in waiting rooms!)

“Every scam has a red flag. Any time I ask you for money or data, that’s a red flag,” he said. Abagnale advised when you get one of these calls and question its legitimacy, hang up, look up the listed number for the organization and call them directly to verify the request.

“It’s up to you to keep your information private,” Abagnale urged. “You’ve got to be proactive, not reactive. No one else can protect you.”

It’s important for businesses to educate their employees on safety, set up protocols and minimize risk for the security of the entire company, too. “Education is the most important tool to fighting crime,” he said. ”

He also shared that there is an effort to eliminate the use of passwords in the future. One company called Trusona is leading the charge to switch the world over to cell phone verification at places like an ATM or even your own TV. After all, “passwords are for tree houses,” he said.

For more information and resources on fraud and protection, visit abagnale.com.

View more photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Thanks to our local media who covered Abagnale’s visit as well:

Prairie Public: Frank Abagnale speaks to Fargo crowd on recognizing scams

WDAY: The man behind the movie, “Catch Me If You Can” visits Fargo

Check out these highlights from Twitter!

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Cole Papers: 100 Years Old and Still Growing

July 2nd, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

One of the most exciting things about our community is the entrepreneurial spirit and how many businesses, new and old, are present in Fargo Moorhead West Fargo. One company that has stood the test of time and is, in fact, celebrating their 100th anniversary this summer, is Cole Papers. We were going to tell you their story, but they told it to us so well that we wanted readers to hear it straight from the president’s mouth.

100 year billboard

“One hundred years ago, my wife, Nancy Cole’s grandfather Robert Cole, started Fargo Paper Company in a small office/warehouse in downtown Fargo over J.C. Penney. Three blocks away, my dad’s mother and her parents were busy opening the Gardner Hotel after returning from Saint Louis by train to bring some of the first furniture for the hotel. I am assuming that they probably knew each other. Nancy and I did not discover this early Fargo connection until after we got engaged and married in Washington, D.C. We moved to Fargo in 1980 after her father, Prentiss Cole, asked me to join the company.

Nancy attended college at SMU in Dallas and vowed she would never marry a “Texas boy.” I grew up in Texas on a cotton farm picking cotton on my knees as a kid and I never thought I would be marrying a yankee! In Washington, D.C., Nancy worked as a lobbyist for the National Cotton council in spite of never having seen any cotton. I was working as a consultant for a Big 8 accounting firm after seven years in the Navy in cryptology. We met at a Presbyterian singles group in D.C.

As one can see, our unlikely connection and background brought us together to live in Fargo where our ancestors were 100 years ago. Since we moved here, we have raised four children who have all worked at the company. Two boys still do: one is in sales and the other is in finance.

Cole Papers current leadership team

Shortly after moving here, we decided to open a branch in Sioux Falls and felt that we needed a name change. Thus, we hired a public relations firm and went with their suggestion of Cole Papers. Before opening the Sioux Falls branch, we had four other branches: Grand Forks, Minot, Bismarck and Aberdeen. After Sioux Falls, we added Mankato, St Cloud and Minneapolis.

Our 160 employees serve our customers across ND, SD and MN and the fringe areas of the adjoining states. We use our own trucks to deliver various products to several thousand customers. Our facilities maintenance, food service, cleaning equipment, packaging, printing paper and other consumable commodity products go to schools, nursing homes, prisons, motels, restaurants/bars, manufacturers, printers, etc. We also have a wholesale flooring and cabinet division that provides various flooring products to dealers, commercial flooring contractors and some large multi-family developers.

We are often told by some of our suppliers/vendors that we are one of the most unique distributors they have seen anywhere in the country. They talk about our family, friendly and faith-based culture that values people, assists and encourages employees continuing college and graduate education, and often tries to promote from within. These suppliers also comment about our part-time chaplain, our part time leadership development coach and the fact that we have helped pay for some of our mid or senior level managers get their MBAs.

To celebrate our 100-year birthday, we are holding events at each branch and in Fargo where customers and friends will be invited for ice cream, bar-b-que and live music.

We will continue participating in several national industry related organizations and buying groups. At the present time, we are focused on upgrading our software used to run the company. In addition, we are looking at some improved facilities in Aberdeen and Grand Forks as we prepare for the next 100 years.”

Chuck Perkins, President/CEO

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The YEA! Experience (Guest Post from the 2018 Shark Tank Winner)

June 4th, 2018 by Member Contributor

The below post is a guest submission from our 2018 YEA! winner, Zoe Bundy!

My name is Zoe, I am a student at Discovery Middle School. About a month ago, I won the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Investor Panel Shark Tank. This was an amazing experience, even just to be part of the class.

Zoe Bundy

Throughout the class, students come up with business ideas, write business plans and financials plans. Then, the students pitch their ideas to “shark” investors, like ABC’s Shark Tank. There, the students will receive funding for their business and many opportunities are made. At the end of the night, one student is selected to represent Fargo as the Saunders Scholar. This was the award I won.

Through the year in YEA! you meet local business leaders who have already started major businesses. The instructors are incredible. Josh Teigen, chief visionary at Protosthetics, was our first instructor. His passion and vision for teen entrepreneurs definitely shines through his teaching. Andrew Abernathey from Abernathey Holdings and Jeff Thomas, president of Cornerstone Bank, were the second instructors. They both know financials well, and helped out with a great deal of work.

In YEA! you experience real-life problem solving, team building and communication skill building. My experience with YEA! has been nothing but awesome. I walked into YEA! with no business idea, but a strong passion for girls in STEM. I walked out of YEA! as the CEO and founder of my own company Brainy Ladies, a website that interests girls in STEM.

On her New York trip

After finding success in Fargo, I was awarded a trip to New York for my business idea, Brainy Ladies. New York was a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. Sitting alongside other teens who had gone through the same class as you, but from all around the U.S., was incredible. Every idea was creative, new and solving a problem of some sort! New ideas sparked in my mind! The competition was fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to present to a panel of super cool judges?!

The best part about New York was the museum. For dinner the first night, all of the YEA students from around the U.S. went to the Strong National Museum of Play. The museum had all the greatest toys, from Nintendo and Paperboy to superheroes and pinball. The museum was also a great learning experience, just to see all the ideas people had and the great entrepreneurs that shined through their product. Although, pitching my speech to judges was pretty great, the museum takes first place in my book. Altogether, the New York trip was incredible, and I can’t wait to see all the great ideas the future has to offer!

YEA! has taught me just about everything about business I know, and has also taught me that anyone can be an entrepreneur. If you are thinking about YEA! I 150% recommend it! There was never a dull moment! If you are thinking about sponsoring YEA! please do! Near the end of YEA! each student gets a mentor to help them along the way. These mentors are local business owners, employees and other business people who dedicate three hours of their time for 10 weeks. Help me out and let’s make YEA! 2018-19 the best it can be!

-Zoe Bundy

Learn more about the YEA! program, and how you can get involved, HERE.

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Member profile: Western Products

June 1st, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

Say “home improvement” and the old Tim Allen TV show might come to mind for some. But for many around here, it calls to mind a local company specializing in various products and services for their home. That company is Western Products, and this year marks its 70th year in business.

Today, their product offering includes siding, windows, roofing, gutters, soffit and fascia, patio and front doors, cabinets, window coverings and blinds—even spas and patio furniture. And all are installed by a Western Products-approved crew for a high-quality product and a high-quality installation. With their full-service remodel approach and extensive brand offering, their customers can tailor their home improvement experience to fit their personal needs.

General manager Ray Blaha says Western Products loves serving the ‘do it for me’ customer versus the DIYer.

Since the business has been around for decades, they’ve been able to constantly evolve to fit the needs of the people. One example of a revitalized customer experience is a brand-new Design and Experience Center, opened in 2015 where customers can view real-life house facades so they can envision how their products would personalize their own home.

“We strive to be the best in our marketplace, to provide unsurpassed customer satisfaction, to be totally committed to teamwork and to be relentless in the pursuit of improvement,” Blaha said.

An active corporate citizen, Western Products belongs to many local organizations and associations. And of course, they also give back through participating in the school supply drive and planning and implementing free-will donation events in the office to raise money for the charities they support.

“Western Products is constantly working to improve our customer experience, as well as our employee experience,” Blaha said. “We believe that you cannot have one without the other, because happy employees lead to happy customers!”

To mark 70 years in business, Western Products is treating its employees to a picnic, its associate companies a breakfast event and increasing its referral reward program for its customers. “For us, encouraging our employees and letting them know how much good they’ve done is extremely important to running our business, and this picnic is just one small way for us to give back,” Blaha said.

Looking ahead, you can expect the company to stay focused on adapting to its customers’ needs, delivering a high-quality product with reliable service, expanding its offerings to serve even more, and all with a good dose of kindness to boot.

Western Products Rennovation

An abbreviated history

1948 Peter Shuck founds Western Products in Fargo as a lightning rod distributor.

1963 Delivers the first load of steel ever produced.

1972 Begins wholesale distribution of exterior home improvement products.

1999 The Guinness Book of World Records inducts Western Products for the longest piece of seamless steel siding ever applied.

2004 Western Products opens a second location in Bismarck.

2006 Western Products provides siding, roofing and gutters for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

2008 Becomes one of the top 500 remodelers in the America. The business opens a third location in St. Cloud.

2014 Renewal by Andersen presents Western Products the “Showroom Recognition” award.

2015 Opens its fifth location in Jamestown.

2016 Receives Renewal by Andersen’s “Homeowner Satisfaction” award.

2018 70th anniversary.

…not to mention multiple People’s Choice Awards from Design and Living magazine, various dealer awards from Crystal Cabinet year after year, and even more distinctions for its sales growth, product excellence and customer satisfaction from United States Seamless.

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Tax Reform: Meals & Entertainment

May 18th, 2018 by Member Contributor

By Patrick Kautzman, CPA, Partner, Eide Bailly LLP

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the most significant change to tax legislation in 30 plus years. Its impact if far reaching for individuals and businesses alike.

One of the key provisions of the act is the change in deductibility of entertainment, meals and transportation fringe benefits, beginning in 2018.

What changed?

Before tax reform took effect, businesses could (in general) deduct 50 percent of business-related entertainment and meals. Employee meals provided by an employer for convenience on the premises were fully deductible. Qualified transportation fringe benefits were also deductible, even if they were excludable from the employees’ taxable income.

Tax reform has changed a lot of that. Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Entertainment, amusement or recreation expenses, membership dues for clubs and expenses for facilities related to these items are no longer deductible. This takes affect for all expenses incurred starting January 1, 2018.
  • Meals associated with operating a business, including meals during employee travel will stay 50 percent deductible.
  • Employee meals provided by an employer on its premises are now only 50 percent deductible through 2025. After 2025, these expenses are no longer deductible.
  • Qualified transportation fringe benefits and some expenses related to commuting transportation for employees are no longer deductible.

As you can imagine, there are several questions that have come up in relation to these new guidelines. Further, some of the act’s provisions are not entirely clear and further guidance is needed by the U.S. Treasury or the IRS.

Here are a few examples of questions we’ve encountered.

  • You take a client golfing. This entertainment expense is no longer deductible after 2017. The same is true for a baseball game, theater tickets, etc.
  • You take a client to dinner prior to, or after, entertainment. Typically, this is non-deductible as it is part of an entertainment outing. However, if you can clearly separate the meal as a business purpose and the meal cost is not lavish or extravagant, you can take a 50 percent deduction on the meal cost. As a reminder, documentation is always important when you take deductions.
  • You throw an occasional holiday party for your employees. The act has not changed this and you can fully deduct the costs associated with this.
  • Your employees incur meal expenses while traveling on company business. This is deductible at 50 percent, as long as the expense is not lavish or extravagant.
  • You have a meal during a meeting for a service club. The meal itself is deductible at 50 percent. However, the dues for service club membership are non-deductible, given the current wording in the act.
  • You provide your employees transit passes or parking. These items are no longer eligible for a deduction after 2017. This also applies to providing transportation for an employee to commute to work.

Again, these are just a few of the examples we have encountered and each situation truly depends on your unique set of circumstances. It’s best if you have specific questions to consult with your CPA.

So what steps should you take?

Here are a few tips:

  • Look at your bookkeeping procedures for your company. How will you capture expenses differently in 2018 and beyond?
  • Make sure you’re documenting and correctly tracking expenses. This impacts ALL expenses from January 1, 2018 on.
  • Review your expense reimbursement policies. There’s a pretty good bet that some of the language in there needs to change to comply with the new tax reform act.

Ultimately, your course of action will vary based on your particular circumstances as well as updates from the IRS. If you have questions, ask your business advisor or CPA. The new tax reform act can be complicated, but we can help ensure your business is on track and maintaining your books correctly.

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Honoring the 2018 ChamberChoice winners

May 14th, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

It was an afternoon with the stars at last week’s 2018 ChamberChoice Awards luncheon at the Delta by Marriott, where we honored a new group of businesses, non-profits and entrepreneurs in our community. James Cunningham returned as emcee, and Tom Dawson, Dawson Insurance, and Roger Reierson, Flint Group, represented the event’s presenting sponsors.

The organizations and individual receiving honors were:

  • Small Not-for-Profit of the Year: Emergency Food Pantry, Inc.
  • Not-for-Profit of the Year: Great Plains Food Bank
  • Small Business of the Year: Prairie Winds Veterinary Center
  • Business of the Year: Eide Bailly, LLP
  • Young Professionals Best Place to Work: Office Sign Company
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Tyrone Leslie, Heritage Homes, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties, Total Home Services, DT Holdings and RMZ Developments
  • People’s Choice: Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley

The award finalists and winners were selected by a panel of independent judges from the regional business community, who evaluated accomplishments in the areas of business growth, innovation, creativity, community involvement and unique achievements relating to a specific business or industry. The People’s Choice Award was determined from the nominee that garnered the most votes from the public during a two-week online voting period.

Congrats to all of this year’s winners, and thank you to everyone that helped make this event possible.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PHOTO ALBUM ON FACEBOOK.

Check out some of these Tweets from event attendees!

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Now accepting speaker applications

May 4th, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

Share Your Expertise at Business Training or Women Connect in 2018-19

Get in front of an audience of your peers and business professionals to share your ideas and expertise at either Business Training or Women Connect during The Chamber’s 2018-19 fiscal year. Any employee of a Chamber member business is invited to submit an application.

Applications close May 31, 2018.

What you get as a presenter

Exposure: A room full of engaged business professionals will hear your message

Promotion: We’ll share your session and bio online, on social media and in print to thousands!

Credibility: Position yourself as a thought-leader in your area of expertise

Business Training

The Business Training series enhances the success of our community’s businesses, large or small, through top-notch presentations at affordable prices to provide valuable professional development and strengthen your work force. Topics have covered sales, culture, leadership, customer service and more.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

Women Connect

If your topics are edgy, empowering and inspiring, Women Connect wants you! We want presenters who can engage the crowd and share practical advice for navigating life as a professional woman while sharing positive messages you simply can’t get elsewhere. Topics might include work-life balance, how to negotiate, tips on surviving when you feel overcommitted, closing the gender gap in the workplace or managing conflict.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

Apply by May 31! Questions? Contact Bobbi Jo at 218.359.0525 or brehder@fmwfchamber.com.

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2017-18 Leadership Community Change Initiatives Unveiled

May 1st, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

This past month, the Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo class unveiled their group projects. These Community Change Initiatives (CCIs) apply and reinforce the skills and insights gained throughout the Leadership program while allowing participants a chance to envision, develop and bring to fruition real and lasting community change in collaboration with others. Having worked on these projects for the past seven months, each group gave a 20-minute presentation to the community as Cass County Electric, offering a first look into their hard work and dedication to helping find a solution to a number of our community’s issues.

Jeremiah Program: Technology Empowerment Initiative

Maggie Aslakson, Holly Hoeschen, Melissa Reichert, Robert Wilson, Craig Bjur, Rhonda Young

The Technology Empowerment Initiative has been established to support a variety of technology needs for the Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead campus. Focused on a mission to transform families two generations at a time, Jeremiah Program prepares single mothers to excel in the work place, readies their children to succeed in school, and reduces generational dependence on public assistance. This year, the Technology Empowerment Initiative donated 11 Surfaces to the Jeremiah Program. Mark your calendars for July 20 for Lunch for a Cause at Rasmussen College, where the proceeds will go to the Technology Empowerment Initiative!

Mentorship Matters

Bethany Berkeley, Matthew Gehrtz, Shawn Paschke, Brenda Johnson, Meghna Roehl, Angie Ryan

While numerous leadership programs and opportunities to network are available in our community, it can be challenging to initiate a formal mentoring relationship, especially when you aren’t already plugged into our community network of professionals and don’t know where to start. The Mentorship Matters toolkit is accessible to businesses and post-secondary institutions throughout the community. The toolkit is a guide to developing and managing a mentorship program to match college students and seasoned professionals and new hires within an organization; help equip students and professionals with valuable leadership insight and soft skills; build the talent pipeline in our community; increase employee engagement; and enhance company culture.

Professionally Paired

Aaron Buffington, Danne Doering, Mike Opat, Angie Berntson, Kirsten Peterson

This group’s goal is to provide an event that invites local non-profits and local professionals the opportunity to get introduced to one another. This offers an opportunity to build new connections and expand networks, help professionals find rewarding volunteer opportunities where they can leverage their skills, and provides non-profits an opportunity to introduce themselves to our local professional community. The first Professionally Paired event was held on April 5 and was a success!

Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/ProfessionallyPaired/.

FMWF Letter Exchange

Alexis Swenson, Christine Bushy, Brett Johnson, Liv Helm, Josh Payne

A pen pal project of sorts, the FMWF Letter Exchange promotes positive community, connection and letter writing through the process of exchanging letters bi-monthly between members in the area. Ultimately, the FMWF Letter Exchange encourages a return to the timeless art of writing to a pen pal. By matching young students with residents of senior living communities, the hope is that their written exchange will inspire joyful connection, a sense of unity in the community, recognition of the value of learning how to send handwritten letters and remembering the power a written letter holds.

The Bundle of Joy Project

Megan Surdo, Carrie Carney, Tifanie Gelinske, Ryan Mullikin, Brandon Chapman, Charlotte Rusch

As new parents are welcoming a baby into their homes, they should be experiencing many positive feelings; joy, excitement and love. However, some parents experience feelings of worry or doubt at not being able to provide for their new family member. This goal is to provide items to first-time parents that will help them care for their child. Bundle of Joy hopes to make the transition into parenthood an easier, more joy-filled experience.

Clean Community Initiative

Dan Cash, Tyler Fischbach, Wes Heyen, Mitch Kudrna, Tony Wolf

Each spring the community is littered with paper, building materials and other trash that has blown in the wind and remained underneath the snow. As it melts, it leaves behind an unsightly amount of garbage that can be unsafe and causes our beautiful parks to look unnecessarily messy. The Clean Community Initiative teamed up with Concordia College during their Earth Week to assist in the cleanup. Concordia students, along with other community volunteers, cleaned areas in two Moorhead parks adjacent to the Red River.

Commercial Recycling Action Group

Laura Caroon, Michelle Enockson, Brian Halverson, Jeff Arntson, Cal Perleberg

The City of Moorhead successfully launched single sort recycling in residential areas in July 2017, increasing monthly recycling pickup loads by 400%. The Commercial Recycling Action Group has been working with Moorhead Public Works to pilot an affordable and convenient single-sort recycling solution for the city’s commercial customers as well. The result of this collaboration will be realized this summer as Moorhead will launch a 6-month commercial recycling pilot program for 30 local businesses free of charge. Goals of this pilot program include evaluating the operational and economic feasibility of commercial single sort recycling in addition to soliciting feedback from the selected participants.

 

Be a part of next year’s class!

Applications are open for the 2018-19 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo program through May 17, 2018.

Apply online at fmwfchamber.com. For more information, contact Alyssa at aralston@fmwfchamber.com or 218.359.1579.

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