About Us Directory Members Only Join Contact Us

Ag Economy at April Eggs & Issues

April 5th, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

Agriculture was the star of our April Eggs & Issues session. Gathered as panelists to share their expert insight into the issues were Lynn Paulson, senior VP & director of agribusiness development at Bell State Bank & Trust; Mike Krueger, president of Money Farm; and Andrew Swenson, extension farm and farm resource management specialist at North Dakota State University.

Bev Adams from Sanford Health moderated the discussion, and added a few of her own remarks. “The agriculture industry is one of the industries that has stood the test of time,” she said. “The Red River Valley is ground zero for some of the ag industry’s most innovative creators and producers. Currently, the agriculture industry is finding itself in a very precarious state.”

Swenson shared lots of data regarding ag’s impact locally. Over an 11-year period of time, the physical size of regional farms hasn’t changed, but gross cash income has more than doubled. 2012 was the best year, he said, and land values went up 40% in one year. In the years to follow, net income significantly dropped, but expenses went up. He also noted that farm debts are increasing.

North Dakota land values quadrupled from 2004 to 2013, which Swenson called “unprecedented,” though it’s turned in the last couple of years.

The average farmer is 59 years old now, so there will be a lot of transition coming, Paulson added, also touching on both the good and bad times from the lending perspective. “It used to be the 3 C’s of lending were things like collateral, conditions, capacity and character,” he said. “Now the 3 C’s are conservative in the good times, courageous in the tough times and consistent all the time.”

Following the panelist’s presentations, the audience was allowed to ask questions of the presenters, and judging by the number of questions, it seems safe to say that our business community truly knows and cares about the importance and longevity of ag in the region.

04-16 Eggs Issues cover


We were also happy to have David Berg of American Crystal Sugar take the stage to announce a new Chamber committee for Agribusiness.

Here’s some of the social media from the event!

Eggs and issues #fmwfeggs

A photo posted by Peter Schott (@peetnd) on


Member Spotlight on Dress for Success

April 1st, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

Suggested by a fellow Chamber business for this spotlight, Dress for Success recently won the Power of 100 money and hosts several great events in the region. Here’s what else Amanda Even, program director, shared with us.

Isha Kromah Employed

Q: In your own words, briefly share your company history and what you offer today.
A: Dress for Success Red River Valley is a non-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Dress for Success worldwide was founded in 1997 and was brought to the Red River Valley in 1998 with a boutique in Hawley. Dress for Success Red River Valley has also had a second boutique in downtown Fargo since 2012. Today, Dress for Success has expanded to almost 150 cities in 20 different countries around the world.

Q: How many employees do you currently have?
A: Three

Q: What makes your organization unique?
A: We serve women from all walks of life. Many times women who have utilized our services reemerge as donors. Other women who were once donors end up utilizing our services. Over half of women we serve have attended college and most are mothers. Some have been staying at home with their children and just need support when reentering the workforce. Others are victims of domestic violence looking to put their lives back together. There have also been a number of retired women having to reenter the workforce due to excruciating circumstances.

Q: Are there any initiatives you’re focusing on right now?
A: We are currently building our sponsorship and volunteer base. We have events throughout the year with corporate sponsorship opportunities and love to work with businesses for clothing and accessory drives. Whether it is in on an individual or team level, we always have plenty of volunteer opportunities from creating displays and organizing the boutique, to working with women as a personal shopper or in the Career Center.

Q: What is one thing you most want our area or other Chamber members to know about you?
A: We are always looking for new partnerships and creative ways to expand our services. Over the past year we’ve doubled the number of women served and our program is continuing to rapidly grow.

Q: What do you like most about being a member of The Chamber?
A: The Business Training events are very informative with great presenters. Also, the networking opportunities through Women Connect and Business After Hours are unparalleled.

dress for success red river valley boutique

Interested In Having Your Business Highlighted In This Section?

We’re looking for small businesses in current good standing with The Chamber that have a unique offering, interesting history or are just doing something spectacular, to profile in this section. Tell us who you think deserves to be featured! Fill out the form at bit.ly/BridgeMS to suggest a business.


Spotlight on 2016 ChamberChoice Candidates

April 1st, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

Get ready to walk the blue carpet, celebrate amazing local businesses and laugh along with us at the 2016 ChamberChoice Awards. Back to emcee is James Cunningham.

Be sure to vote for the People’s Choice Award online May 2 through May 16!

ChamberChoice Awards Luncheon
May 20 | Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Ramada Plaza & Suites and Conference Center

It is with immense pride that we announce the following as candidates for the 2016 ChamberChoice Awards. Congratulations to all on this achievement!

  • Absolute Marketing Group
  • AE2S
  • Alzheimer’s Association MN-ND Chapter North Dakota Regional Centers
  • Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties
  • Brady Nash – BNG Holdings, Inc.
  • Children’s Miracle Network
  • Choice Financial
  • Cornerstone Bank
  • Josh Teigen – Crossfox Innovation
  • Dabbert Custom Homes LLC
  • Discovery Benefits, Inc.
  • Dorothy Day House of Hospitality
  • Dress for Success Red River Valley
  • Easter Seals Goodwill ND, Inc.
  • Eide Bailly LLP
  • Emergency Food Pantry
  • Express Employment Professionals
  • Family Wellness LLC
  • Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation
  • Gate City Bank
  • Nick Killoran – Great North Insurance
  • Erik Hatch – Hatch Realty
  • Healing Arts Chiropractic
  • Heritage Homes, LLC
  • Tyrone Leslie – Heritage Homes, LLC
  • Homeward Animal Shelter
  • JLG Architects
  • Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity
  • Matt’s Automotive Service Center
  • Midco
  • MODE
  • Mortenson Construction
  • National Hospitality Services, LLC
  • New York Life Insurance Company
  • Ryan Fritz – Office Sign Company
  • Precision Diagnostic Services, Inc.
  • Rape & Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo-Moorhead
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Red River Valley
  • Paula Klein – Smartt Interior Construction
  • Spotlight Media Inc.
  • Eric Newell – Stoneridge Software
  • TMI Hospitality
  • Trinity Schaff – TrinSpin Inc.
  • TrueIT
  • Western Products, Inc.
  • Western State Bank
  • YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties
  • YWCA Cass Clay

A Tasty Trio: The Boiler Room, Barbacoa & Sazerac Alley

April 1st, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

Behind three of the region’s most popular restaurants is a small team committed to offering a unique dining experience in the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo area. Dan Hurder, CEO, and his business partner Christian D’Agostino, executive chef, run Great Plains Hospitality, the management company behind The Boiler Room, Barbacoa and the soon-to-be-opened Sazerac Alley restaurants.


While all three establishments are new to the dining scene, the two men behind them certainly are not. Hurder started his career with the Hilton Garden Inn hotels, coming to the FMWF metro as general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn Fargo.

After figuring out he wanted to work for himself, Hurder’s first business venture was the purchase of The Otter Supper Club and Lodge in Ottertail, Minnesota, which he and D’Agostino still run today. Next was the purchase of a long-time downtown Fargo dining staple, Monte’s, in 2012, which only recently announced was shutting down to reopen and rebrand as Sazerac Alley.

The next addition to their restaurant portfolio was The Boiler Room, a new but quick favorite in downtown, which they opened nearly two years ago, followed by Barbacoa, which opened in south Fargo in October 2015.

Each establishment is equally delicious, while having its own unique identity and story.

The Boiler Room’s concept was created specifically to fit the space after they were approached to open a restaurant there by Kilbourne Group. Wanting to stray away from the typical “bar” or fine dining offering, Hurder explained that “We started looking around at what we felt downtown was lacking, and it was that middle-of-the-road option. Clean, comfortable, casual, with good quality food at a reasonable price. We knew we wanted to work in the comfort food wheelhouse, but put our own unique twist on it.”

Barbacoa was actually pitched as an idea from the former Monte’s sous chef Ian Berry, who is now executive chef there. Boasting a Southwestern barbecue concept, Barbacoa offers a wide range of gluten free options and perfectly paired bar menu to accompany the rich tastes found in their food.

Sazerac Alley (not yet opened, but coming soon as of the time of publishing this article) will be occupying the former Monte’s space inspired by New Orleans. Offering yet another experience you can’t get anywhere else in town, Hurder is hopeful that Sazerac Alley will resonate with FMWF diners. Capitalizing on both Hurder’s and D’Agostino’s prior experiences there, they’re confident they can bring the cuisine of New Orleans up north. “I think it’s a testament to what people’s dining expectations are,” Hurder said of the change. “We all work hard in our lives. You don’t want going out to dinner to also feel like work.”

dan hurder sazerac alley

Of all the dishes at each of the restaurants, Hurder says his favorites are the biscuits and gravy from Boiler Room because “they’re delicious and warm and comforting but a little spicy.” He’s also really excited to debut the char-grilled oysters at Sazerac Alley, which are cooked in their shells on the grill and topped with garlic butter and breadcrumbs. The latter will only be available at happy hour, and he hopes they become a hot commodity.

While every day is different and dining trends are ever-evolving, Hurder says he pulls his motivation from his investment into the restaurants, in terms of time, energy and emotion. “I can’t imagine not doing everything we can to make sure that this succeeds.”

What’s most rewarding for him is simply seeing a full house. “It’s always awe-inspiring to see how many people have chosen to spend their time and money with their friends and family in your establishment, of all their options,” Hurder said.

As for what’s next, Hurder said they’re not done growing their portfolio yet, though what is next is yet to be decided. He would like to get outside the FMWF market at some point. Ultimately though, “as long as I’m happy, I think it’s a success and I’m reaching my goals.”


April Message to Members: Announcing a New Agribusiness Committee

April 1st, 2016 by Amanda Hofland

craig whitney headshotI am incredibly proud and excited to announce the formation of a new Agribusiness committee here for The Chamber.

Agriculture is, and always has been, an extremely important and integral part of our region’s economy. Today, the industry faces many challenging issues as they compete in the global market. We oftentimes forget the far-reaching impact the ag community has on all of us and on so many of our local and regional businesses.

As an extension of The Chamber’s public policy efforts, our goal with this new committee is to bring together a collective voice of businesses and leaders in the ag sector. This is The Chamber’s ninth committee, and we are eager to get to work. The first meeting was held March 8 with close to 40 people in attendance. The committee has established the following mission and vision.

To promote the strong impact that the agriculture industry has on the Red River Valley while serving as a bridge to engage business leaders from across the community in the evolving agriculture market.

The Agribusiness committee will be implemented to create an awareness of the impact of agriculture throughout the Red River Valley. The committee will promote agriculture and agri-business for similar relationships with businesses in the Fargo-Moorhead, West Fargo area. The formation of this committee will focus on an understanding of the value of agriculture to the economy, particularly in water, farming, and other ag-related industries.

David Berg, president and CEO of American Crystal Sugar, will serve as the committee’s first chair. American Crystal Sugar Company is a world-class agricultural cooperative that specializes in sugar and sugar-based products and byproducts. We feel especially grateful to have a man of David’s stature stepping up to chair this new venture in its inaugural year. There is perhaps no better person to lead this committee as his over 20-year commitment is nearly unparalleled.

The Agribusiness committee is still open to additional participants, and all employees of Chamber member companies are welcome to join. Meetings are held at 8 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at The Chamber office.

As the ninth Chamber committee has kicked off, I want to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation for everything that all of our committees do. Each committee is made up of a group of individuals who graciously give their time and talents to serving the mission of The Chamber and the betterment of the business community. We simply couldn’t do what we do without each and every one of them. The rest of our committees are listed below.

  • Ambassadors – Member Relations
  • Ambassadors – Public Relations
  • Business Training
  • Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo
  • Military Affairs
  • Public Affairs
  • Women Connect
  • Young Professionals Network

As with the Agribusiness committee, all employees of Chamber member businesses are welcome to get involved through the work of our committees. For more information on any of these opportunities, please visit us online or give us a call.


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!

Hosting by Hostgator Coupons