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Leadership Class Examines Our Region’s Past, Present and Future

January 7th, 2014 by Camille Grade

DSC 0032 300x200 Leadership Class Examines Our Region’s Past, Present and FutureFrom Glacial Lake Bottom to Profitable Topsoil

The Leadership class had the opportunity to hear from “Mr. History” aka Steve Stark at the December Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo session. Stark is an illustrator and historian who brings history to life with his visual and oral presentations. Stark drew pictures as he talked about how Lake Agassiz used to cover most of the Northern Plains. When the lake evaporated rich, fertile soil was left behind. This farmland paved the way for commerce in our region. Large bonanza farms were started and commerce was conducted up and down the Red River. Our region was the main provider of the wheat used by flour mills in St. Paul, Minn., including Pillsbury and Gold Medal. Who says history can’t be entertaining?


A Tale of Three Cities

After the class heard about our region’s past, we looked to our present. Dan Mahli, Fargo City Planner, Lisa Vatnsdal, Moorhead Neighborhood Services Manager, and Larry Weil, West Fargo Planning Director, held a panel discussion about the growth of our cities. Each panelist said they value public input and try to get the public involved in planning. A few incredible facts about our region’s growth:

  • Fargo will have 10,000 new housing units by 2020. In addition, apartment vacancy is incredibly low with a 2-3% vacancy rate.
  • West Fargo grew 73% between 2000-2010. They estimate within six years there will be no land left for residential building.
  • Moorhead is studying the river corridor to see how they can develop the land. Housing buyouts for flood protection turned private land into public land. The river corridor will be a good future resource for growth.


Our Culturally Diverse Community

As our community continues to grow, so does our cultural diversity. We brought together a panel of experts who work with new Americans and refugees every day. Panelists included: Cristie Jacobson, Fargo Police Department Cultural Liaison Officer; Vonnie Sanders, Fargo Public Schools ELL Teacher; and Heather Ranck, U.S. Department of Commerce and Project English founder. Each panelist provided a wealth of information about how the class can help new Americans adjust to their new community. Most refugees spend between 12-18 years in a refugee camp before they are granted asylum. Only 1% of refugees worldwide are re-settled each year. Once they have been resettled, there are still are still many hurdles to overcome. Cultural and language barriers are two of the biggest. Lutheran Social Services has a 90% success rate with finding new Americans employment.


DSC 0038 300x200 Leadership Class Examines Our Region’s Past, Present and FutureReady, Set, Plan

To help the class understand how leaders plan for the future of our region, Jodi Bruns, North Dakota State University Extension Service, had the class participate in The Futures Game. It is an interactive game where groups have to make decisions based upon different scenarios. Everyone starts with the same scenario: “The Governor has provided a one-time $5 million grant to your county from the state’s Future Energy Fund.” From there, groups need to make decisions on how to use the money. Do you invest in R&D? Or do you create jobs? What do you do when your workforce shrinks? How do you feed your workforce pipeline? The class had to ponder those questions and more to grow their hypothetical county over a span of 20 years.

Thank you to the helpful and dedicated staff at Cass County Historical Society – Bonanzaville USA for hosting the December LFMWF session.

Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Program Sponsors:

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2014 ChamberChoice Nominations Officially Open

January 7th, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

Nominations for the 2014 ChamberChoice Awards officially opened January 6. If you want to nominate your business or another deserving organization you believe has contributed to our dynamic business community, please check out the ChamberChoice section of the website. You’ll find highlights of last year’s event, including past winners, as well as begin the nomination process.

Even if you applied last year and didn’t win, please don’t hesitate to apply again. You’ll have much of the work done already because you will just need to update your previous application.

Nominations will be open through February 27. Nominees will be asked to complete an application to tell us more about why they should be a ChamberChoice Award winner. Members who complete the application successfully will become candidates for the ChamberChoice Awards.

Candidates and winners will be recognized at the ChamberChoice Awards Luncheon on May 21.

Economic Outlook Forum 2014

January 7th, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

In July, North Dakota and Minnesota were recognized on a top ten list for fastest-growing states for their thriving economies, based on gross domestic product figures provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Join us at the 2014 Economic Outlook Forum on Wednesday, February 26 to find out what factors are influencing the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo economy. We have several experts lined up who will speak on various aspects of the economy.ƒƒ

Jim Gartin, president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, will address the results of the Economic Outlook Survey, what it means for our communities and the state of our local economy and future implications.

Ross Manson, principal at Eide Bailly, LLP, will provide perspective on the economic impact of the health care industry in terms of workforce, wages, research and innovation.

ƒPam Sharp will outline North Dakota revenue projections for 2014 and highlight the leading factors affecting our state’s growing economy. Sharp serves as the director of the ND Office of Management and Budget.

Finally, Dan Staller, Fargo Moorhead West Fargo market president with Starion Financial, will reveal the results of the second annual Economic Outlook Survey, conducted by the Department of Management and Marketing at North Dakota State University.

The event will be held from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Ramada Plaza & Suites and Conference Center. You can register online or by calling 218.233.1100.

President’s Corner: January 2014

January 7th, 2014 by Craig Whitney

Craig Whitney e1384196398346 207x300 Presidents Corner: January 2014Dear Chamber Members:

The start of a new year teems with potential and possibility, and as we reflect on our accomplishments in 2013, we are excited to work on a number of issues in the coming year.

In a thriving community like Fargo Moorhead West Fargo, we see myriad opportunities to continue promoting economic growth and prosperity for our member businesses through advocacy, education and engagement.

In Fargo, permanent flood protection is at the forefront of issues we will continue to advocate for. While we recognize the need to address all sides of the issue, The Chamber believes permanent flood protection will result in an improved business and residential climate. The importance of a new city hall and convention center offers an opportunity to evaluate where the center of business activity can reside within Fargo, and the final decision of a location is sure to be debated and scrutinized to ensure it will contribute to the vitality of our future for decades to come.

Del Rae Williams being elected as Moorhead’s first female mayor attests to the exciting dynamics at play in the community. She takes the reins after Mark Voxland led the city, and while we congratulate and thank Voxland for his unwavering service, we can’t help but be excited for what Williams will set as her priorities in the coming months and years. A situation we are less excited about is the $2 billion tax bill that resulted in higher taxes for businesses. We have taken a public stance to urge Gov. Mark Dayton and other Minnesota lawmakers to repeal the stifling new taxes to protect the economies of border cities like Fargo Moorhead. (You can read more about our stance on FMWFChamber.com.) We will continue to advocate for our legislators to examine the repercussions of the taxes and repeal them when they convene next month.

West Fargo’s tagline about being “the city on the grow” has never been more true than it is now. The city’s population growth is both a result and forbearer of an electrifying local economy our business community will benefit from. In fact, as of last month, the metro area as a whole was on pace to approve permits for more than 1,600 apartment units, according to a December 9, 2013, Forum article. West Fargo itself had approved more than 300 new units. West Fargo’s growth will emerge in all realms of the economy, from hospitals to hotels and restaurants to banks.

It’s an exciting time for the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo community, and we’re honored to serve as a leader to ensure the continued growth and prosperity of our business community by working on the issues that deeply affect the quality of life we enjoy here. We look forward to the challenges and accomplishments 2014 is sure to bring.

Thanks for your membership,
Craig Whitney
The Chamber

State of the Cities

December 10th, 2013 by Danielle Teigen

Thursday, January 9 | 8 to 9:30 a.m.

Hilton Garden Inn Fargo

The vitality and vision of a city invites prosperity and development, and the public learns that vision at the annual State of the Cities address. The mayors will discuss the future as well as highlight hurdles, funding opportunities and other issues influencing our cities in the coming year. By attending the State of the Cities address, you will have the answers to important questions affecting your company and community.

You can help shape that vision by asking questions and sharing feedback with the mayors of Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo and Dilworth. This format debuted last year and gave you the chance to voice your concerns regarding the business community.

If you want your voice to be heard and your business concerns shared with the mayors, send your questions to Jessica at jlee@fmwfchamber.com or through our website. We will integrate your questions and issues into the State of the Cities address. You can also ask questions at the event by texting or tweeting live during the hour-long Q & A portion.

Reserve a table for your clients or co-workers by contacting Darren at 218.359.0514 or ddunlop@fmwfchamber.com. Register for the event at FMWFChamber.com or call 218.233.1100.

President’s Corner: December 2013

December 4th, 2013 by Craig Whitney

Craig Whitney e1384196398346 207x300 Presidents Corner: December 2013Dear Chamber Members:

Every holiday season, we are reminded of the many blessings we enjoyed during the last year. For me, serving as your Chamber President/CEO is an honor and a blessing I appreciate every day.

Another blessing to me and you, our members, is the incredible staff of 13 business men and women whose commitment to our mission and vision involves creative thinking to serve all of you in new and exciting ways. Their dedication is a testament to the strength of The Chamber as an organization, and I am blessed to lead a team of such talented individuals.

Our Board of Directors is another blessing for which I am thankful. These 16 business leaders from our community champion The Chamber’s efforts by promoting economic growth and development in the area. Without their support, we could not accomplish all that we do each year.

And the volunteers who make up the seven hard-working committees who make our efforts possible? Every one of them is a blessing, and I can’t thank you all enough for your enthusiasm and hard work.

  • Our Public Relations Ambassadors take our message into the community to educate others on all the great work The Chamber accomplishes as well as serve a beacon of information for the public to rely on.
  • Our Member Relations Ambassadors serve as the bridge members depend on to bring their business concerns to us and help us retain the many members we serve.
  • Our Young Professionals Network is made up of individuals who will be the business leaders of our future and their efforts to inspire innovation and development are unmatched.
  • Our Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo planning committee consistently creates a high-quality leadership program that motivates business leaders throughout the community.
  • Our Business Training committee offers fresh ideas and exemplary effort to educate the men and women who seek professional development opportunities.
  • Our Public Affairs committee is always up-to-date with the newest legislation and regulations on the state, local and federal level to ensure our members stay informed.
  • Our Military Affairs committee plays an important role in continually honoring the men and women who serve our country and helps the public understand how their service affects our community and beyond.

Thank you to the members whose support of our education, advocacy and engagement efforts is unparalleled. Your loyalty is what makes our jobs worthwhile.

Finally, our more than 2,100 members and their 94,000 employees are blessings who make our work possible and productive. Your achievements in your careers inspire us and serve as a reminder of why the metro area is one of the best places to live and work. Your membership is a blessing, and we are honored to serve you.

May you enjoy a safe and blessed holiday season.

Thanks for your membership,
Craig Whitney
The Chamber

Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Class Visits With Leaders and Discovers Inner Animals

November 26th, 2013 by Camille Grade

Otters 300x200 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Class Visits With Leaders and Discovers Inner AnimalsLion, Owl, Otter or Koala?

The class spent the morning at North Dakota State University’s Renaissance Hall learning about communication styles. Vicki Simonson, Dynamic Business Cultures, engaged the class with lively discussion and an introspective look at each class members’ communication style. Based on decades of behavioral and cognitive psychology, the training provided the class with an understanding of four different communication personalities as well as strengths, weaknesses, recognition strategies and conflict resolution tactics. Each communication archetype was symbolized by an animal — lions, owls, otters and koalas.

  • Koala Traits: Relationship-oriented, likes stability, seeks acceptance, dependable, seeks harmony in relationships, risk-adverse.
  • Owl Traits: Organized, likes specific projects/tasks, reserved and controlled, follows rules, critical thinkers, risk-adverse.
  • Otter Traits: Optimistic, people-oriented, enthusiastic and responsive, likes unique solutions and fresh perspectives, impatient with details, risk-tolerant
  • Lion Traits: Take charge, strongly influential, results-oriented, quick decision maker, catalyst for change, meets trouble head on, risk-tolerant

Legislative Panel

“Who inspires you?” That was the question North Dakota Senator Tony Grindberg posed to the class before talking about some of the legislation  he is working on. North Dakota freshman Representative Josh Boschee just finished his first legislative session and said it was definitely a learning experience. “It was interesting to learn the intricacies of funding,” said Boschee. Senator Kent Eken talked about his experience on the Minnesota side of government. One of the many issues he is working on is the cost of higher education. “We don’t want to price people out of education,” said Eken.

True Stories of Citizen Impacts

How does change happen on a community-wide level? It usually takes hard work, dedication and organizing from citizens. The Leadership class heard from two groups of citizens that worked together to impact change. Ken Enockson and Amy Rand of the Alliance for Neighborhood Schools talked about how they organized groups to support their neighborhood schools and keep them open. “We realized that all neighborhood schools needed to come together as one, unified voice,” said Rand. “And it was effective to stay positive when engaging in discussion with school administrators and the school board.” Scott and Tracey Slaen represented the business side of citizen impacts. The City of Fargo tried to pass stricter sign codes, which would’ve negatively impacted many sign businesses. When asked how it changed the way they interact with the city Tracey Slaen said, “We definitely pay more attention to city hall. We read the paper after each commission meeting and try to attend commission meetings to find out what was discussed.”

Doug Burgum begins his presentation by talking about gratitude. 300x200 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Class Visits With Leaders and Discovers Inner AnimalsGratitude for the Past, Visionary Leadership for the Future

“North Dakota is growing at China speed,” said keynote speaker Doug Burgum. With a 9 percent population growth, North Dakota is booming. But Burgum said North Dakota had a budget surplus before oil was unlocked from the Bakken. He stressed that we need to take advantage of the good economic position we are in. While Burgum already has storied success of building businesses in Fargo, he remains at the forefront of even more innovative development. “Whatever we do in downtown Fargo benefits the whole community,” said Burgum. Some of the initiatives of the Kilbourne Group include enlivening the riverfront, invigorating downtown living, inspiring the city and engaging the community. He is also passionate about infrastructure that will keep North Dakota competitive. “Any state that doesn’t invest in data will be left behind,” said Burgum. “Because after all, great companies need great cities.”

Thank you to all participating businesses and organizations that helped make the November leadership session a success including North Dakota State University, Monte’s Downtown, and the Kilbourne Group.

For more information about Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo contact Camille at cgrade@fmwfchamber.com. Applications for the 2014-15 class will open April 1, 2014.

Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Program Sponsors:

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Honor Star Member Unveils Veterans Wall

November 26th, 2013 by Jessica Lee

Walmart Honor Wall 11.9.13 049 300x200 Honor Star Member Unveils Veterans WallWalmart Honor Wall 11.9.13 034 300x200 Honor Star Member Unveils Veterans Wall









We were proud to partner with Walmart to mark Veterans Day and unveil a new feature within one of their stores. A Veterans Honor Wall now showcases dozens of pictures of area veterans, a symbol of gratitude for all of our country’s veterans. The Military Affairs committee, Fargo American Legion and VFW were on hand to dedicate the wall to our local heroes.

Space is still available on the wall and Walmart invites you to bring in a photo of a veteran. They will make a copy, frame it and add it to the display.

The Chamber’s Military Affairs committee is on a mission to foster a community of support for the men, women and families of our military. Through the Honor Star program, Chamber members have committed to looking within their organizations for opportunities to pay special tributes to our service members. From supporting appreciation events to providing discounts or services, members continue to find unique ways to say thank you to those who have selflessly served.

Walmart Honor Wall 11.9.13 039 300x200 Honor Star Member Unveils Veterans WallWalmart Honor Wall 11.9.13 054 300x200 Honor Star Member Unveils Veterans Wall

Jeb Bush Talks Education and Immigration at Voices of Vision

November 18th, 2013 by Kaylyn Stroh

A sold out crowd of nearly 800 attended our fourth annual Voices of Vision luncheon with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. After giving audience members a quick update on the Bush family, he jumped right into his views on making a better country for future generations. Bush spoke in-depth about education and the need for higher standards in the education system to better prepare high school graduates for college and careers. “Teaching should be a profession, not part of some collective bargaining unit,” said Bush.

To emphasize his point, Bush shared some significant statistics, including the fact that only 25 percent of students pass all four sections of the ACT, a standardized college admittance test. “If you challenge the system, you can move the needle,” said Bush. He proved it was possible during his time as the governor of Florida where literacy rates jumped and Florida went from one of the worst states for education to one of the best.

Bush also advocated for smarter immigration. “Immigrants are not a drain, they are a source of energy,” said Bush. He talked about the importance of stopping illegal immigration to create better opportunities for legal immigration. “Enforce our laws but realize immigration is a good thing for our country,” said Bush.

“As a former governor, Jeb Bush has remained an active and eloquent voice on the great issues facing our country. He has written a well-received book on immigration policy, serves on numerous charitable boards and travels the nation urging reforms to make America’s public schools the best in the world,” said Chamber President/CEO Craig Whitney.

After Bush finished his keynote, he opened the floor for questions where he fielded a tough one, “What advice would you give someone interested in running for office?” His answer was eloquent and honest, “Learn something before you run, have something to share,” said Bush. “Don’t make it a career, make it about service.”

The event marked the fourth time we have held Voices of Vision. The inaugural Voices of Vision event was held in November 2010 and featured Lt. Col. Oliver North. The 2012 event featured renowned journalist Bob Woodward. Last year’s event was headlined by former Washington Redskins quarterback and world-class entrepreneur Joe Theismann.

President’s Corner: November 2013

November 11th, 2013 by Craig Whitney

Craig Whitney e1384196398346 207x300 Presidents Corner: November 2013Dear Chamber Members:

At the end of September, we were honored to host 30 business leaders and public officials from Topeka, Kansas. As part of their annual InterCity Benchmarking Exchange, the group was here to study what is being done in the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo metro and how they can apply our work in areas like neighborhood revitalization, young professional development, collaboration in higher education and workforce training to their city. For more information on their trip, see pages 4-5.

During their visit, we heard from a number of great speakers in the community, including the mayors of Fargo and West Fargo, city managers and administrators and local business professionals. I can honestly tell you, even after living here for almost four years, I learned a number of new things about this area and the amazing things being done here.

It’s a story your Chamber will continue to tell throughout this fiscal year and beyond. It’s also one of the reasons we created the Voices of Vision event, designed to bring world thought leaders and cutting edge visionaries to the community. We are able to showcase our community to national leaders from all walks of life and make sure they know exactly why Fargo Moorhead West Fargo is second to none.

We’re also looking into workforce issues to help make our community a better place for local businesses and entrepreneurs. We are telling the story of our metro to more than 450 young professionals as part of our Young Professionals Network, encouraging them to not only stay here, but become active in our community. We are teaching future and current community leaders how to give back and remain committed to the metro through our Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo program.

These are just a few of the examples of programs and events we have that are showcasing a vibrant community with a high quality of life. We encourage you to get involved and share with us new ways to make Fargo Moorhead West Fargo an even better place to live, work, play and do business.

Thanks for your membership,
Craig Whitney
The Chamber

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