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Call for Presenters!

March 28th, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

Share Your Expertise at Business Training or Women Connect in 2016-17

fmwf chamber call for presenters

Do you have expertise that other businesses need to hear? Want to make valuable connections and build credibility? Speaking at a Chamber event is a great way to do just that. If you’re interested, please apply! Any employee of a Chamber member business is invited to submit a proposal.

* Applications open April 1 and close May 31, 2016. *

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.

What do YOU get by presenting?

  • Two complimentary guest passes to your session.
  • Promotion of your session and company on The Chamber website, in our monthly Bridge newsletter and in our weekly eBridge e-newsletter.
  • Electronic invitation to 10,000 recipients.
  • Exposure to a crowd of top business professionals

* Apply online HERE, or contact Bobbi Jo with questions at 218.359.0525.

Here’s what attendees have said about Business Training events:

“Session content EXCEEDED expectations. I’ve been to a few seminars now, but haven’t learned anything that I could really apply at work…until today!”

“Possibly one of the best seminars/speakers I have attended.”

“This really hit home for me.”

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. We reached about 2,500 people in our first year alone!

What do YOU get by presenting?

  • Two complimentary guest passes to your session.
  • Promotion of your session and company on The Chamber website, in our monthly Bridge newsletter and in our weekly eBridge e-newsletter.
  • Electronic invitation to 10,000 recipients.
  • Exposure to a crowd of roughly 300 area women.
  • The opportunity to connect deeper with regional female professionals and bring light to the topics that matter!

* Apply online HERE, or contact Bobbi Jo with questions at 218.359.0525.

Here’s what attendees have said about Women Connect events:

“Without other women leaders in my organization, I look to Women Connect as my rock, my center, and my home-base.”

“As soon as I walked in the room and saw so many other women I was blown away and incredibly excited to begin coming to events.”

“In the world today women do not take enough time to build each other up, and share. This will work its way into being an event that women put on their calendar.”


From Headbands to Hoverboards, YEA! Students Pitch Ideas at Investor Panel Shark Tank

March 17th, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

From headbands to hoverboards, samosas to social media, our first class of YEA! students finally got the chance to publicly announce their business ideas to the community and compete for funding in a Shark Tank-style event on March 16 at Concordia College’s Offutt School of Business.

It’s all part of what this program has been preparing them for during the last several months. They’ve worked hard on their business plans, meeting with mentors, hearing from guest speakers and practicing their pitches, and this event gave them the chance to move a step closer to launching each of their businesses by securing funds from the local panel of expert investors.

As the evening sun shone into the room, their eagerness and excitement also shined through. Students were able to mingle with businesspeople and speak with the media in a meet and greet as their families, friends and attendees filed in, eager to hear the pitches.

FMWF YEA meet and greet

Dan Michaels, NDSU Bison announcer, served as emcee and kicked the evening off with a welcome, handing it over to Craig Whitney, who provided a background of the YEA! program and how this event came to fruition. Josh Teigen, a local entrepreneur who served as the class instructor for the year, told us about his own young entrepreneurial story, and shared a nice introduction to each of this year’s YEA! students.

Next, we met the investors, aka, “sharks,” who were Dean Bresciani, NDSU; Brewer Doran, Concordia College Offutt School of Business; Steve Dusek, Dakota CDC; Denise Gorsline, Minnesota State University Moorhead; Ryan Grussing, Cornerstone Bank; Jenni Huotari, Eide Bailly; Dan Hurder, Great Plains Hospitality; and Dan Staller, Starion Financial.

And then it was on to the moment we were all waiting for – the presentations! Each student gave an overview of their company and business plan, including start-up costs and monthly operating expenses, competitors, marketing plans, business goals and sales projections.

mukai selekwa at FMWF Yea shark tank

The students’ businesses are as follows:

Sydney Ulrich of Davies High School presented on Headbands for a Cure, which sells spandex headbands to help fund breast cancer research.

Ameera Mire of Horizon Middle School presented on Ameera, which sells fashionable clothing to Muslim teens in the U.S.

Dalad Oday of Moorhead High School presented on Samosa Empire, which produces and sells samosas.

Keller Lee of Cheney Middle School presented on TailTraders, which is an app to sell tailgating spots for NDSU Bison games.

Olivia Schroeder of Cheney Middle School presented on Pick-Pack Pantry, which is a meal kit delivery system for the FMWF area.

Tanner Paler of West Fargo High School presented on Find Me, a GPS for bicycles so they aren’t lost or stolen.

Josh Gronneberg of Discovery Middle School presented on EvoHover, a hovercraft with a unique propulsion design to make it more environmentally friendly.

Mukai Selekwa of Davies High School presented on Webblen, a social media management website.

Juanaiga Okugas of Davies High School presented on White Rabbit, which makes virtual reality games.

After each presentation, the sharks were able to ask questions of the presenters to find out more information to help them decide how to divvy up the available funding. After everyone had gone through and the sharks deliberated, snacks were served and we also got to taste Dalad’s samosas (which were delicious!), see samples of Sydney’s headbands and chat with the students further.

FMWF Yea shark tank students

In the end, each student received varying amounts of funding, ranging from $300 to $2,400, and the big winner of it all was Mukai with Webblen.

Mukai was clearly grateful and proud to have won. “It means a lot,” he said. “I dream of being an entrepreneur. All entrepreneurs have to start with some defining moment, and I feel like I’m on that path now.”

All of our young entrepreneurs have a very bright future ahead of them, and it will be exciting to see where their journeys take them. In the meantime, they all will proceed with their businesses, and Mukai can look forward to presenting Webblen at the YEA! semi-finals in Rochester, New York, in May.

Thanks so much to all the YEA! supporters and everyone who helped make this program and event happen.

If you know a great student for the next class, please encourage them to apply today. Applications are available through April 14 at fmwfchamber.com/YEA.

Check out some of our favorite Tweets from the night!


Leadership Tips from Steve Scheel at Business Training

March 14th, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

This past month, Business Training attendees got the pleasure of hearing tips from one of our region’s most respected business leaders, Steve D. Scheel, current chairman of SCHEELS. Speaking on the topic of leadership, he shared with the crowd some of SCHEELS’ own proven tricks based on their leadership model that involved cultivating leaders rather than managers.

steve scheel business training

Scheel echoed Rudy Giuliani’s own words that great leaders are made, not born. They strongly believe in building leaders in their stores rather than simply telling associates what to do and how to do it.

Scheel recalled a conversation with his father years ago in which they discussed this very idea. “We can only grow this company by growing our people,” he said. “…I believe in the last decade, it’s been our leadership that’s the reason for our success. But it’s also our leadership that is our Achilles heel.”

With a model very different than other stores, SCHEELS gives its stores the autonomy to make the best decisions for their own stores, trusting they know the best for their location and market. “People flourish under great leadership,” he said.

He also shared some of the other ways SCHEELS ensures its success, from dressing the part to leading with intensity and integrity, hiring for attitude and training for skill, teaching with enthusiasm to help others enjoy their work, holding high expectations and expecting those they lead to become empowered, being on time for every meeting, greeting and smiling at every customer, and being honest. “Every little thing adds up to the growth of the company,” he said.

He also shared his own five favorite books on leadership and some of the nuggets of wisdom from them. The five books were:

  • “Good to Great” by Jim Collins
  • “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
  • “If Aristotle Ran Heneral Motors” by Tom Morris
  • “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell
  • “The Five Levels of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell

“We have a philosophy at our company no matter what we’re doing,” he said. “We either get better or we fall behind. There’s no plateau.”

Thank you to everyone that came out to this event! We hope to see you at another Business Training.

Also, thanks to The Forum for a great recap of the event!

Check out some of our favorite Tweets from the event!


Report: North Dakota Air National Guard has Nearly $100 Million Impact on Region

March 11th, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber today released a study on Economic Effects of the 119th Wing of the Air National Guard on the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo metropolitan area.

nd air guard colonel kent olson

We commissioned North Dakota State University’s Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics to do the study. Conducted by Department members Dean A. Bangsund and Nancy M. Hodur, the study shows an overall impact of $97.1 million on the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo metro.

“This study reinforces the tremendous value the North Dakota Air National Guard brings to our communities,” Craig Whitney said. “In addition to the vital role they continue to play in our nation’s security, the Air Guard’s presence is essential to the economy of our region. The last study of this kind was over 10 years ago, and it was way past time to update our figures on this important component of our region’s financial health.”

The study revealed that the Air National Guard’s direct spending was about $51.9 million in the region, using an average of fiscal years 2014 and 2015, and including various inflation-adjusted figures. Of the $51.9 million, $46.6 million was for payroll and $5.3 million was for procurement of locally supplied goods.

“While the nearly $52 million represents direct spending, the overall economic impact of the Air National Guard in the metro area is nearly twice as high, consisting of a combination of the impacts created from purchases of locally supplied goods and services and payroll compensation for military personnel,” said study lead Dean A. Bangsund. “The presence of the Air Guard supports 764 FTE jobs, creates $63 million in personal income, contributes $97.1 million value-added activity and generates $93.4 million in gross business volume.”

In addition, the Air National Guard was estimated to generate $600,000 annually in property tax and local option sales tax collections. With 425 FTEs, the 119th Wing is a major employer, within the top 35 in the metro area.

“Recently the 119th Wing of the Air National Guard received its 17th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA) during a ceremony at the Air National Guard Base in Fargo,” Air Guard Commander Colonel Kent Olson said. “While we are proud of what we contribute to our nation’s defense, we are equally proud of what we contribute to the communities in which we live and work. While our mission has changed over the years, we are still here making major contributions to the region’s economic life.”



6 Tips for Communication Shared at February Business Training

March 1st, 2016 by Tyler Fischbach

Attendees heard Dawn Kaiser, inspirational speaker and author, loud and clear at February’s Business Training session. Presenting on “Power Up Your Message: What to Say, How to Say it & When to Shut Up” at the Hilton Garden Inn Fargo, Kaiser shared practical tips for communicating clearly and effectively to a packed house.

Crowd shot at Business Training on communication.

Miscommunication can not only be frustrating and uncomfortable, it can also be detrimental and take down a team or company. One way to prevent that is by effective communication from the get-go. And as Kaiser said, “Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”

Kaiser gave attendees six specific mistakes that can muddle communication and offered plenty of additional tips, examples and inspiration for each, as well as a few group activities.

The six mistakes include:

  1. Getting in your own way.
  2. Not building relationships.
  3. Lack of listening.
  4. Not adapting your style to others.
  5. Avoiding giving and receiving feedback.
  6. Meltdown with technology.

She reminded that a lot of times, good communication is all in the approach. And to change your perspective, try thinking “I get to do this” versus “I have to.”

Thank you to Kaiser for sharing such great tips with the crowd, to the Hilton for hosting our group, and to all our sponsors and attendees!

Check out a few of our favorite Tweets from the event!


March Message to Members: Let’s Encourage Young Entrepreneurs

March 1st, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

craig whitney headshot

Last year, we debuted a brand-new program to the community – a program aimed at developing leadership in business to the younger generation.We’re honored to be successfully completing the first year of the region’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). This national program teaches students in grades 6-12 how to start and run their own real businesses over the course of a full academic year.

We know this program works because of its successes so far. We even hosted the national winner from last year, Kayla Abramowitz, to the region to help us kick off the current class. Her organization, Kayla Cares 4 Kids, is a shining example of how big of an impact one kid can make. Additionally, as of 2014, YEA!has graduated over 2,000 students who have started more than 1,700 businesses and social movements. It’s inspiring to see these YEA! graduates start as students and leave the program as CEOs of their own companies.

This perfectly captures the entrepreneurial spirit of America today, and it’s a perfect fit for Fargo Moorhead West Fargo. These are the students of today that will be running the businesses of tomorrow. Investing in their education and opportunities could be paramount to their future success, not only for them as individuals, but us as a community.

This year’s inaugural class will pitch for funding in our upcoming “Investor Panel Shark Tank” event on March 16 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Offutt School of Business at Concordia College. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to see these young entrepreneurs blossom as they start their own businesses. And just like the hit ABC TV show “Shark Tank,” our panel will feature real area investors as students present their businesses for their financial support and guidance.

I am immensely proud of the commitment and drive these students have, and their passion is inspiring. I applaud their efforts and hard work in the program. I am also incredibly thankful to the range of businesses and individuals that have made this inaugural year possible. From Josh Teigen of Crossfox Innovation, who served as class leader, to the program sponsors, guest speakers and hosts, mentors and Minnesota State University Moorhead students who helped with graphic design needs. This truly has been a community effort to pull off this great program, and we couldn’t have done it without all their support.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating these budding entrepreneurs at the event and show them that Fargo Moorhead West Fargo believes in them and their vision.

The current YEA! class concludes soon, and we are currently recruiting new students for the 2016-17 year. If you know of a great student for the program, please encourage them to apply online at fmwfchamber.com, or contact Gail for more information at 218.233.1100.

Craig Whitney
President & CEO
The Chamber


Fargo Air Museum: Where History is Housed in Hangars

March 1st, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

At the Fargo Air Museum, amazing aviation history is housed in two humble hangars. But the stories and nostalgia contained within these hangers tell a richer story.

Behind the scenes strategically leading the museum is Scott Fletcher, the museum’s CEO. Fletcher’s own passion for planes is evident, and as he says himself, “I caught the aviation bug in third grade.” He is just one of a group of dedicated men and women who love airplanes and the entire aviation industry.

Scott Fletcher fargo air museum

All About the Museum
The Fargo Air Museum’s story begins in the 1980s with two local pilots restoring old aircraft. After Gerry Beck and Bob Odegaard had built up a nice collection of beautifully restored planes, they realized that the public had no access to them. So in 2001, the museum began operations as a way to show off this work.

The museum started with just a few planes and grew to about 30 quality exhibits. In fact, one board member built a Wright Flyer aircraft, and when the Smithsonian came to visit, they remarked that it was the best replica they had ever seen.

The museum houses a range of aircraft from various eras throughout history—some replicas and some working, functional planes that actually flew the blue skies.

wright flyer fargo air museum

One of the first aircraft dedicated to the museum was from 1902, the Wright Flyer replica. On the opposite spectrum, the museum also obtained a rather innovative aircraft, the Global Hawk block 10 full scale model, the largest unmanned aircraft boasting a wingspan of 130 feet and state-of-the-art technology. This was the first model built that served as a template for Northrop Grumman that the Air Force and Navy now fly.

But it’s not just airplanes you’ll find in the Fargo Air Museum. They also showcase a 1956 3100 Chevrolet pickup with a custom Fargo Air Museum rack, a collectible item of a guestbook from the U.S.S. Fargo with King Edward VII’s signature, various memorabilia
and even one of the best World War II catalogued libraries in the region. The latter is housed upstairs near Fletcher’s office and is proudly maintained by Fred Quamm, a 99-year-old veteran who dedicates his time weekly to the museum to sort through new donations and maintain the library’s integrity.

If you have a chance to connect with Fletcher, he will entertain you with a lifetime of stories of all the courageous and daring pilots that have either shared their own stories with him or have been passed from generation to generation. The fascinating facts behind every airplane in the hangars come to life with these discussions, creating a mosaic of color to an already lively environment. Fletcher’s favorite story though is that of the Grumman TBM Avenger, a torpedo-bomber aircraft that was piloted in World War II. A volunteer and friend of Fletcher’s is Stewart Bass who flew the Avenger and has several bombing runs with phenomenal stories. “Stew” is no longer with us to share his version of the story, but his spirit is felt through the legacy left behind at the Air Museum.

If you listen closely, you can hear the camaraderie in just one visit to the museum. As Fletcher will share with you, it is heroes like Stew that have made our country great. Visiting the museum puts you in a nostalgic place to also experience this greatness in a humbling yet proud atmosphere, a nice Midwest reminder of the honor to be an American.

Community Involvement
JT2A7017It’s not just amazing exhibits and people that make Fargo Air Museum an important part of the community. The museum also hosts a range of events year-round, including various fundraisers and an annual Celebrity Dinner and Auction, the region’s Gun Show and a host of weddings. But perhaps most importantly, they also host a monthly Coffee Hour in which our region’s veterans can gather together over coffee, donuts and friendly conversation.

“Our success is through honoring the past, which represents the incredible people that make our country so great,” Fletcher said. “The reminders are visible to all and allow us to share the moments of triumph and grief that often accompany the privilege of our freedom.”

The Air Museum also makes a point to cater to kids. Museum staff frequently works with both the Eagle Scouts and Boy Scouts, offering fun and educational summer camps, and hosts hundreds of children a year to the museum through school tours. In fact, located in the second hangar, one corner is solely dedicated to teaching kids aviation hands-on. Children have access to a real flight simulator, a replica of the Fargo air tower for educational purposes, and a simulator of the Fargo Airport replicating the taxi and landing lights. Fletcher strongly believes that our children are the future of aviation and should be invested in to share the historical highlights and future development of technology in aviation.

Expansion & Accreditation Plans
One exciting new initiative at the Fargo Air Museum is what they’re calling their capital campaign. Outlined in three distinct phases, with the second phase (being the second hangar) now finished, they’re on to phase 3, which will be the construction of a new building that connects the two hangars together. This expansion will better serve the facility by eliminating the need to move planes in and out of the hangars each time they host a large event as the new area will be able to accommodate events and will also enhance the entrance with the addition of an atrium. It’s a $5 million campaign that is just being initiated with completion date contingent on successful donation funding.

The museum plans do not stop there – other plans involve achieving accreditation through the National Alliance of Museums. Once achieved, the accreditation will allow the museum that ability to lend and lease assets and exhibits with other museums. “That’s one of our key strategic goals to achieve accreditation in the near future to enable us to leverage our ability to better serve our community and region,” Fletcher said.

Another thing that Fletcher wanted to share with other Chamber members is that they’re looking to get more involved with other
businesses in the region, and would encourage the community to partner with the museum, including corporate support and funding along with utilizing the key capabilities of the museum’s ability to host corporate events.

You can also look forward to their annual fundraiser, the Celebrity Dinner and Auction, on April 1, 2016!

Give Back

Looking to help support the Air Museum? Consider a membership, which gets you free admission for a year, a gift shop discount and invitations to members-only events. Call 701.293.8043 for more information.

You can also donate to the museum through their website, fargoairmuseum.com. Your gifts help the museum’s mission, which is to provide aviation education through restoration and preservation and fund phase 3 of their capital campaign.

You may also want to check out a documentary film screening of legendary pilot Bob Hoover titled “Flying the Feathered Edge” on March 19 at the museum.


4 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss This Special Shark Tank Event

March 1st, 2016 by Tyler Fischbach

Hey business professionals in the metro, have you ever wondered what our community’s middle school and high school students are up to? Look no further and get ready to be wowed!


Why should you attend the inaugural Investors Panel Shark Tank?

All of it is real!

On March 16, students from the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) class will be sent into the “Shark Tank” with investors from local businesses. The young CEOs will pitch their unique business plans to an investor panel in an attempt to receive funding for the launch of their company. Yes, these students are starting real businesses, and real funding is on the line.

Be the first to hear the great ideas from our region’s brightest young people

The YEA! students have been working on their plans and presentations since September, and during that time have been individually mentored, met with local CEOs and franchise owners to learn about legal services, accounting, insurance and many other important aspects regarding business ownership in the real world.

They’ve done the work; now they’re excited to share it all with you!

Show your support to these incredible students and encourage the winner

After all the students finish their pitches, only one new business will be selected to move on to semi-finals, with the chance to advance on to national finals at America’s Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C. There, students across the country will be compete for business start-up packages and college scholarships worth up to $50,000.

It’s totally FREE!

This event is completely free of charge (we just ask that you register in advance)!

Don’t miss this new and exciting event! We have no doubt that these budding business owners will inspire all who attend. So join us! The place to be is Concordia College Offutt School of Business on March 16.

Get a sneak peek at our students in this video invitation.

Is there another reason you want to come? Share your thoughts with us!


Leadership Class Announces Community Change Initiatives

March 1st, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

Throughout the past year, our Leadership participants have been busy on their Community Change Initiative projects. Check out what they’ve been up to and how it will help the metro below!

College Scholarship Database

Ann Schoenberg, Cornerstone Bank; Sandi Piatz, Eide Bailly; Zach Herrmann, Houston Engineering; Adam Martodam, TMI Hospitality; Jason Carrier, Park Company; Lexi Oestreich, FM Area Foundation

Scholarship CCI

This group has partnered with the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation to connect students in Cass and Clay counties to scholarship opportunities through an effcient primary web-based resource that lists all of the scholarships available to them in one location.

Faces of Fargo-Moorhead

Hannah Goodmanson, Goldmark Property Management; Kristen Anderson, Wimmer’s Diamonds; Stephanie Maier, City of Moorhead; Jay Strucel, Trail King Industries; Jodie Schreier, Gate City Bank; Neil Roesler, Vogel Law Firm

Faces of Fargo Moorhead

This group has partnered with the WE Center (New American Consortium Wellness & Empowerment) to help build and grow the center, and connect local companies to new Americans in the region. The Fargo Moorhead area is bursting with jobs and opportunities, and they aim to help the center reach new Americans and help them become even more integrated members of this community. A Facebook page, Faces of Fargo-Moorhead, highlights success stories from refugees, new Americans and employers in our area that understand the importance of diversity in our communities and workplace.

Kids Play Passport

Elizabeth Worth, NDSU Graduate School; Amy Ouren, Ulteig; Anna Miller, Minnesota State University Moorhead; Kevin Jordre, Bremer Bank; Tahralee Sauvageau, Union State Bank


Kids Play Passport is a project with a mission to serve FMWF area low-income families and children by providing increased access to local activities and attractions that offer social, recreational, educational and other stimulation opportunities for growth and development of the whole child.

Mental Health Awareness and Screening Colleges/Universities

Leah Deyo, Essentia Health; Martha Leidholm, Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC; Chad Lystad, Rasmussen College; Heather Ostrowski, Preference Personnel; Nick Weisbeck, John Deere Electronic Solutions

This college mental health awareness and screening week is for all colleges and universities in the FMWF area (with a piloting program
at Rasmussen College). It is composed of a fact-based awareness campaign, a screening event, a mental health fair and a referral system to local mental health agencies. Partnering with FirstLink to provide materials and referral information.

Anti-Bullying Education for Parents and Caretakers

Justin Dunn, Gate City Bank; Ashley Petersen, Ronald McDonald House Charities; Jenna Miosek, Hospice of the Red River Valley; Tyler Zierke, John Deere Electronic Solutions; Todd Bollinger, Cass County Electric

AntiBullying CCI

In collaborating with administrators from Cheney Middle School (CMS), this group identified that the biggest gap is a lack of community awareness and parental engagement in anti-bullying efforts. A partnership with CMS will get the word out to parents and the community about an anti-bullying curriculum. With CMS’ resources, this will be done by building a social media website to highlight their curriculum.

At Ease

Michele Berg, American Crystal Sugar Company; Joseph Volness, TMI Hospitality; Melissa Cameron, Discovery Benefits; Lee Beauvais, Moore Engineering; Sarah Mastera, Bell State Bank & Trust; Brenda Ostlie, Flint Communications

At Ease is a time to connect monthly with other spouses and families of deployed military at a family-friendly outing where there’s no agenda other than to have some fun and lift each other up. Some participants are full-time military families. Some are reserve. Some are Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines. All have this in common—they are living apart from someone they love because of deployment. Every non-deployed family member needs a reminder that they will learn to live through this. They will get strong. But for a few hours today, they’re simply At Ease.

Valley Workforce Connections

Bob Bartelt, Midco; Melissa Fluge, Robert Gibb & Sons; Laura Trosdahl, Central Minnesota Credit Union; Riley Rude, Western State Bank; Leslie Wood, Heritage Homes/Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties

Workforce CCI

This group is focused on educating high students about career opportunities in the Fargo-Moorhead metro and surrounding areas and providing a connection to local businesses career opportunities by breaking down barriers. Valley Workforce Connections will partner with area high schools, post-secondary institutions and businesses related to the skilled trades in need. A website, Facebook page and YouTube channel are in the works to host videos and share links to articles about trades available in the area. These sites will serve as resources for high school students, parents and counselors.

Looking for Leaders!
LFMWF Program Applications Open in April
If you want to grow both personally and professionally, and believe in giving back to your community, then we invite you to join the Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo program! This 10-month program runs August through May and meets once per month at various locations throughout the community, along with other special events. You’ll participate in fun events, special talks and tours and work on team projects, all while building lasting connections, learning more about FMWF and developing your own leadership role.

Applications open on April 4 and close on May 26. You can apply at fmwfchamber.com/LFMWF.


Economic Outlook Forum Looks at Local & National Trends

February 25th, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

At the annual Economic Outlook Forum on February 25 at the Holiday Inn Fargo, nearly 600 individuals gathered to hear all about regional and global economic trends.

Jim Paulsen at EOF

Craig Whitney, Chamber CEO, opened the forum by recognizing the recent loss of Office Jason Moszer, thanking our Premier Partners and event sponsors, sharing some recent news about our metro, and inviting attendees to our upcoming Investor Panel Shark Tank event. Scott Handy of Cass County Electric, the event’s presenting sponsor, also gave a brief welcome to attendees.

Dan Staller, market president at Starion Financial, took a moment to share the results of our recent FMWF Business Conditions Survey, in which Chamber member companies provided feedback about how the economy has affected their business. By comparing this year’s results to prior years, he was able to draw some conclusions about the change (and sometimes lack thereof) in local economic trends.

The results showed that:

  • The top factor positively affecting performance was a domestic sales increase, which was second last year.
  • The top factor negatively affecting performance was a domestic sales shortfall, which was #4 last year. Interestingly, last year’s top factor of higher operating costs, jumped down to the fourth spot this year.
  • Expectations about the national economy compared to the prior year was down. Last year, 54% felt better about it; this year only 34%.
  • Regional expectations compared to the prior year were even worse. 75% felt better last year; this year only 43% did.
  • However, expectations about each person’s business stayed just about the same.
  • For the past four years, the same issue has remained at the top for adversely impacting business: difficulty attracting and retaining qualified employees. “Seventy one percent of us are having a hard time finding employees,” Staller said. “This chart would indicate it’s not just one industry…generally speaking across the board, 50% of businesses in every industry are having a hard time.”
  • On whether the FMWF infrastructure is adequate for future expansion, 55.2% said yes. “So what kind of work needs to be done to maintain our growth expectations in the region? Number one reason was expansion of affordable housing. This will continue to be an issue,” Staller said.
  • 43% of Chamber members said that the drop in oil prices impacted their businesses, whether positively or negatively.

2016 FMWF Economic Outlook survey coverCLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL SURVEY RESULTS.

Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, was next up as the keynote speaker to explain some national trends.

His comments were seemingly in line with what Staller touched on locally. “The list today of things to worry about is about as bad as it’s been since the Eurozone prices,” he said. “Fears are higher than they’ve been for the last several years.”

However, his gut feeling is that we’re not going to have a recession any time soon. “I think the increase in fears is doing some good things in the financial markets.”

“We’re struggling with the slowest-growing recovery ever is mainly because you guys got old,” Paulsen said to a chuckle from the crowd. “I think we’re going to lift productivity over the next few years, which may result in elongating this recovery into the longest one in post-war history. One of the reasons we’ve got a good shot is because it’s growing so slow, and when you have a slow-growing recovery, you don’t have excesses.”

Other reasons he cited for low risk of a recession is because we’ve returned to full employment, balance rates and current interest rate and money supply policies. The last reason? “I find that the biggest risk to the next recession is when players get overly confident. When we get confident and we’re in a big boom, we start to do really stupid things. None of that is evidenced.”

Transitioning to growth in the U.S. and abroad, he stated that he doesn’t believe that we’ll have rapid growth anywhere soon, but does think we’ll have a synchronized balance in 18 months.

Paulsen explained that there are five forces for U.S. growth:

  • Credit creation
  • Better household world
  • Capital spending cycle still coming
  • Housing starts rising another 50%
  • Better growth abroad

Talking about fiscal stimulus and economic fear, Paulsen says that looking around the globe, it’s clear that this is not just a U.S. phenomena. The Eurozone volume has just collapsed, he said. This is an across the board, across the world issue.

Some other themes Paulsen discussed included China’s economy, commodity prices, income distribution, trade value of  the U.S. dollar, crude oil, inflation, stocks and more. It was a highly insightful presentation, and attendees walked away learning a lot about what’s really going on around the metro and around the world, and got the pleasure to hear Paulsen’s analysis of it all. He even made economics funny and got the crowd laughing at several points.

We were happy to have local media join us for the event as well! Check out what The Forum took away from the event HERE.

Check out some of our favorite Tweets from the event!


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