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Fraud Expert, Former Con Man Shares Prevention Measures

June 23rd, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

After spending more than 35 years working for the FBI, Frank Abagnale, Jr., knows a thing or two about fraud and how to prevent it.Frank 300x200 Fraud Expert, Former Con Man Shares Prevention Measures Last week, more than 500 people gave Abagnale their rapt attention as he described how white collar crimes are committed and ways for audience members to protect themselves and their businesses. Abagnale successfully impersonated a pilot, pediatrician and lawyer as a teenager before serving time in prison. His memoir, “Catch Me If You Can,” became a movie directed by Stephen Spielberg.

During “The Art of the Steal” presentation, which is based on his book of the same name, Abagnale said opportunity is most often cited as the reason criminals commit fraud.

Here are some other interesting and helpful tips Abagnale offered the audience members:

  • If an employee ever steals from you, file a 1099. Abagnale said any money acquired by theft is considered taxable income, and an employer has three years to file a 1099.
  • Children are often victims of identity theft because criminals can use the stolen identity for long periods of time before the theft is detected.
  • Spot counterfeit bills by paying attention to a few details, like a visible watermark, color shifting ink, and micro printing on the edges and collars of the featured presidents.
  • Positive Pay is one of the most effective check fraud prevention tools a business can use. This service allows a business to match checks it has issued with those that have been presented for payment and reject any that do not match exactly.

Abagnale closed his presentation by explaining that prevention is possible if people are educated and aware of the white collar tactics criminals use to steal billions of dollars every year. He also said he is happy to answer questions people have about fraud prevention; he can be contacted through his website, www.abagnale.com.

Abagnale’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion of local cases involving a variety of scams. The panelists included:

  • Tom Irvin and Adam Henney with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service
  • Shane Conroy with Homeland Security Investigations
  • Ryan Nelson with the Moorhead Police Department and Amy Getz with the Fargo Police Department
  • Nathan Glur with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division
  • Nick Chase with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in North Dakota
  • Lisa Jemtrud with the Better Business Bureau of MN and ND

Tim Purdon with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in North Dakota moderated the discussion.

To learn more about “The Art of the Steal,” check out the July issue of The Bridge. Check out the Twitter conversation by searching #FrankStealsFargo.

Member Relations Committee Chair Profile: Jeannie Camarillo, Anne Carlsen Center

June 3rd, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

Committee Chair Profile Camarillo 200x300 Member Relations Committee Chair Profile: Jeannie Camarillo, Anne Carlsen CenterThe Member Relations committee serves as the member retention arm of The Chamber, assisting with retention of member firms as well as special events designed to promote member involvement. Member Relations ambassadors help retain members through personal contact, information, encouragement and support.

Jeannie Camarillo, associate development director with the Anne Carlsen Center, has served as the Member Relations committee chair for two years.

What have you enjoyed most about serving as committee chair for the Member Relations committee? Member Relations has changed its focus a couple of times in s goals and s member retention.

What is one thing you would like other people to know about the Member Relations committee? We get to build a relationship with businesses for two years so you really get to know them. The value of this committee far outweighs our volunteer time; the opportunity to network and speak one on one with business owners is invaluable.

What do you believe is the greatest benefit of serving as a Member Relations ambassador for The Chamber? I have been able to network with the businesses plus the committee members. I feel connected to this community, know what is happening, what is new and continue to learn as the community grows. You stay in the know!

Gust Hired to Lead Leadership Program

June 3rd, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

Gust Samantha 200x300 Gust Hired to Lead Leadership ProgramIn April, Samantha Gust joined the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber staff as Program Coordinator for Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo. Gust is responsible for working with the LFMWF committee to plan and implement the annual leadership program.

s degree in sociology. Before coming to The Chamber, she worked as the community and evaluation specialist for a nonprofit called Community Violence Intervention Center in Grand Forks.

Gust saw the opportunity to work a leadership program outside of higher education and quickly realized the rare chance. m excited to get to learn even more about the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo area and get to meet a great group of people who are all she said.

When she isn’t at work, Gust enjoys cooking, baking, antique shopping, going to concerts and spending as much time with friends and family, which includes her parents, who live in East Grand Forks. She also keeps busy by serving on the planning committee for Relay for Life.

2013-14 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Class Graduates

June 3rd, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

Nearly 40 business professionals concluded the Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo program with an opportunity to reflect on their accomplishments and growth to help inspire them to further enhance professional results.

Tamara Anderson, team performance strategist with Dale Carnegie Business Group of North Dakota, led the session. A graduation luncheon and program at Bluestem Center for the Arts followed.

Congratulations and thank you to the participants of this year’s Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo class.

LFMWF class 2013 14 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Class Graduates

President’s Corner: June 2014

June 2nd, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

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

In March and April, we held our annual membership campaign to raise awareness about The Chamber and gain new members. We welcomed 81 new organizations to The Chamber, and you can see the list on FMWFChamber.com. These new members will help us foster additional success and prosperity for our entire region.

One of those new members is Deckmasters, and for that organization, joining The Chamber came down to the opportunities we offer to expand their business opportunities. Showroom Manager Paul Kamrud said Chamber membership offered the company an excellent way to meet other successful business owners and help spread our name and services. The additional advertising package being offered during the campaign motivated us to join now as we work to market our company locally in a variety of avenues, and ”

The advertising package he mentioned was donated by our campaign sponsors, KFGO and WDAY. If your organization is ever looking to refresh itself on all the benefits you are entitled to as a Chamber member, please call our office at 218.233.1100 or visit FMWFChamber.com/member_benefits. We want to make sure your company is making the most of your Chamber membership.

Speaking of sponsors, I would like to take this opportunity to thank campaign sponsors as well as the members that donated prizes to the campaign to entice people to refer organizations to join The Chamber. These generous organizations have our sincere gratitude, and I hope you will take a look at page 17 to see what companies made our
successful membership campaign possible.

While we are always excited to have new organizations join our engaged membership, we also look forward to hearing from our members on what they value regarding their membership. Last month, we sent our annual membership satisfaction survey, and we anticipate learning much from the feedback regarding our programs and services. Keep an eye out for future messages regarding what we learned and how we intend to use the feedback that you, our valued members, provided to us.

Thank you for your membership,
Craig Whitney
The Chamber

West Fargo city commission candidates offer ideas

May 27th, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

wf city commission 300x223 West Fargo city commission candidates offer ideasTwo of the three candidates vying for two seats on the West Fargo city commission shared their ideas for how to manage the city’s expanding footprint and needs of a larger population.

Incumbent Mark Wentz and challenger Brad Olson both see the growth of West Fargo as a good problem to have, but both realize the city’s future relies on solid leadership and sound decisions.

Incumbent Duane Hanson was unable to attend the debate.

Here’s how Wentz and Olson land on the important issues facing West Fargo:

  • Sales tax increase: Both support the increase. Wentz cited the additional tax money would provide a revenue source for the estimated $120 million in infrastructure projects in a cost-effective way; Olson echoed those thoughts.
  • Attracting skilled workers: Olson believes the city should be advertising available jobs and a great economy as heavily as western North Dakota does to make more people aware of the opportunities in West Fargo. Wentz would like to see students getting more involved with trades so they can understand what those careers would look like.
  • Water demand: Neither Wentz nor Olson want to see West Fargo give up control of its water source, so a regional partnership seems less attractive than building a new water treatment plant.
  • Redevelopment of Sheyenne Street: Olson would like to see West Fargo create a dedicated downtown area that would attract visitors and shoppers; he also believes Sheyenne Street south of Interstate 94 is a prime location for retail and restaurants to move into. Wentz supports bringing additional businesses into the old business district to improve that area.
  • Future growth: Wentz wants to see the city commission plan for future development and expansion of the city’s footprint; Olson supports revitalizing older areas of town and filling space in the manufacturing corridor by balancing prudence and vision.

Mayor Rich Mattern, who is running for re-election unopposed, spoke at the beginning of the event about the importance of the sales tax increase to provide an additional $3 million in revenue each year for infrastructure improvement projects as well as examining the feasibility of a West Fargo water treatment plant.

Bernie Dardis of Indigo Signworks, Inc., moderated the event.

The election is June 10. To find out where you will vote, visit the Secretary of State’s website or call the Cass County Auditor’s office at 701.241.5600.

Please remember you will need a form of identification to vote.

2014 ChamberChoice award winners announced

May 21st, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce has announced its 2014 ChamberChoice award winners.cc winners 300x200 2014 ChamberChoice award winners announced

  • Small Business of the Year: Spectrum Aeromed
  • Business of the Year: Integreon Managed Solutions
  • Small Not-for-Profit of the Year: United Way of Cass-Clay
  • Not-for-Profit of the Year: CCRI Inc.
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Kory Anderson, Anderson Industries
  • Young Professionals Best Place to Work: Marco
  • People’s Choice Award: Rape and Abuse Crisis Center

Finalists for the awards include:

  • Small Business of the Year: Absolute Marketing Group and Office Sign Company
  • Business of the Year: Discovery Benefits, Inc., and Park Co. Realtors
  • Small Not-for-Profit of the Year: TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics and Youthworks
  • Not-for-Profit of the Year: Access of the Red River Valley and Anne Carlsen Center
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Ryan Raguse and Jake Joraanstad, Myriad Mobile and Tom McDougall, High Point Networks, LLC
  • Young Professionals Best Place to Work: Border States Electric and Sundog

The winners were announced at The Chamber’s annual ChamberChoice Awards Luncheon held Wednesday, May 21 at the Ramada Plaza & Suites and Conference Center. Nearly 800 people attended the event, which honors the important contributions made by businesses, nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs in the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo metropolitan area. Check out photos from the event on our Facebook page.

The ChamberChoice 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.

Candidates for mayor of Fargo debate issues

May 16th, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

In a debate kept closely in check by moderator Mark Western of Nilles Law Firm, incumbent mayor Dennis Walaker and challenger Brad Wimmer explained their respective positions on a number of issues facing the city in a debate hosted by The Chamber. Attendees packed the City Commission room at Fargo City Hall on Thursday, leaving only standing room for last-minute attendees.photo 300x225 Candidates for mayor of Fargo debate issues

While Walaker pointed out his accomplishments since becoming mayor eight years ago, Wimmer described his own leadership experiences and passion for seeing the city continue to grow toward a new vision.

While Walaker and Wimmer agree on several issues, the two also differ in their approaches to others.

Here’s a breakdown of what the candidates agree on:

  • Permanent flood protection: Both Walaker and Wimmer expressed their excitement for the impending authorization of federal funding for the diversion project and credited The Chamber for working to secure state funding for the important flood protection project.
  • Convention center in Fargo: The candidates would both like to see Fargo tout a convention center, whose location and funding sources have been thoroughly examined. Walaker citied fiscal responsibility and public input as vital to the process while Wimmer described the necessity for a study similar to the one the Fargo Dome Authority conducted.
  • Fiscal responsibility of local government: Walaker and Wimmer agree that the current city government officials have worked hard to maintain balanced, responsible budgets and would continue to do so if elected.
  • Increased police force: As Fargo’s footprint continues to grow, Walaker and Wimmer understand the crucial importance to keeping residents safe and would endorse increasing police staff to accomplish that goal.

Here are key differences in issues the candidates spoke about:

  • Vision for Fargo: While Wimmer described the importance of having a new vision for Fargo to keep the city vibrant, Walaker said that assertion does not take into account the progress made over the last eight years.
  • Campaigning: Wimmer pointed out that if he hadn’t challenged the mayor, Walaker would not have run a campaign. Walaker admitted “it would be a lot easier for me if I didn’t” have to campaign.
  • Fargo’s land use management: Walaker said reaching the density of 9 people/acre as cited in Go 2030 is left to home builders who could help rehabilitate homes so they remain viable. Wimmer believes that Go 2030 priority needs to be reworked to account for building out the neighborhoods surrounding the core while planning for future development and footprint expansion.
  • Attracting skilled workforce: Wimmer would like to see collaboration between universities and businesses—both large and small—as well as the entrepreneurial community to attract, educate and retain workers. Walaker would like to see collaboration between the cities and select organizations to improve the opportunities for young people in the area.

The debate is available online, and will be broadcast on TV Fargo 12 on the following dates and times:

  • May 16 at 5 p.m.
  • May 20 at 8 a.m.
  • May 28 at 10 a.m.
  • June 4 at 7 p.m.
  • June 9 at 8:30 p.m.

The candidates will debate again on KFGO-AM Mighty 790 at 11 a.m. on May 28. The election is June 10.

Several media outlets covered Thursday’s debate, including The Forum, WDAY, Fox News and KFGO.


Seven city commission candidates differ on issues facing Fargo

May 14th, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

The seven individuals who are vying for two available seats on the Fargo city commission offer a variety of viewpoints on the most pressing issues facing the city.

The candidates gathered on Tuesday at a forum hosted by The Chamber.

Here’s a breakdown of the candidates and their stance on important issues:

  • Vern Bennett: 80-year-old current Cass County commissioners who supports the diversion as the only viable option for the area; he also believes the issue of a convention center should be decided by the people and should meet needs 20 years in the future. Bennett supports the expansion of the Renaissance Zone as a way to emulate the success of downtown.
  • Mara Brust: 24-year-old lawyer who wants to help the city maintain its current momentum and believes the diversion offers stability for future growth. She supports a convention center being located downtown, the heart of the community; she also supports expanding the Renaissance Zone strategically.
  • Tony Gehrig: 30-year-old North Dakota Air National Guard pilot who is running again on a platform of fiscal responsibility. He does not support the diversion but would rather see the focus shift to inner-city flood protection; he also believes a new convention center is not necessary and should not be paid for with taxpayer dollars but rather private investments. He supports lower taxes and would offer a “different perspective” than the current commissioners.
  • Tim Mahoney: 65-year-old incumbent who has helped guide the city to its current situation and believes the diversion is the best option for protecting the city.  He agrees with the Fargo Dome Authority on having a convention center at the dome and said funding could potentially come from the city’s escrow account. He supports the expansion of the Renaissance Zone as a way to increase the tax base and offer additional housing opportunities.
  • Dave Piepkorn: 53-year-old businessman and former city commissioner who supports lower taxes and reduced government regulations. He supports permanent flood protection that involves completing dikes and levees using local contractors rather than a diversion that would be built using federal contractors. As far as a convention center is concerned, Piepkorn believes the dome is a viable option but a downtown location should require a majority vote. He also supports expanding the Renaissance Zone if it makes sense.
  •  John Strand: 58-year-old co-owner of the High Plains Reader and current Fargo Public School Board member who wants prudent metro area flood protection and supports a convention center that makes sense when considering the need for a new city hall. He believes the Renaissance Zone success can be replicated in other neighborhoods to drive additional growth and success.
  • Scott Wagner: 44-year-old with 12 years of experience as a Cass County commissioner who believes the diversion offers the flood protection the city needs and would like to see the convention center issue more fully explored in terms of location and funding options. He believes the Renaissance Zone has “improved the overall health of the city” and could mean success for other areas.

You can watch the entire debate online. The replay will also be broadcast on TV Fargo 12 at the following dates and times:

  • May 14 at 7 p.m.
  • May 16 at 8:30 p.m.
  • May 20 at 9:30 p.m.
  • May 28 at 9 p.m.
  • June 5 at 6 p.m.
  • June 9 at 9 a.m.

The election will be held Tuesday, June 10. Find your polling location by visiting the Secretary of State’s website or by calling the Cass County Auditor’s Office at 701.241.5600.

The Chamber is also hosting the Fargo mayoral candidates Thursday, May 15 and the West Fargo city commission candidates on Tuesday, May 20.

Military Affairs Committee Chair Profile: Steve Blazek, First International Bank & Trust

May 8th, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

Military Matters Steve Blazek 240x300 Military Affairs Committee Chair Profile: Steve Blazek, First International Bank & TrustThe Military Affairs committee fosters a community of support for the men and women of our military and recognizes these individuals. The committee helps raise awareness for their work and keeps a keen eye on advancing public policies that will advance our regions military units.

Steve Blazek, senior vice president from First International Bank & Trust, has served as the committee chair since 2012.

What have you enjoyed most about serving as committee chair of the Military Affairs committee?
attitude of the entire committee. If a need for a service member is presented or a s attention, multiple hands get raised immediately with ideas and resources for support and resolution. It has been a very rewarding experience.

What is one thing you would like other people to know about the Military Affairs committee?
The Military Affairs committee has a mission, in part, to educate our community regarding current local military issues and to advocate for men, women and their families living in our community who serve in the United States Military.

Why is it important to you to support the military men and women in the community?
The men and women who wear the uniform are some of the most caring and devoted patriots you will ever have the pleasure of meeting. This country was founded with the strength of the people’s army who volunteer to be our first and last line of defense, whether it is fighting an adversary or fighting a natural disaster. Countless times our National Guard has given of themselves to our community first and their own needs second. In addition, the United States military is one of the largest employers in the area with more than 2,000 personnel and annual budgetary impacts of close to $100 million.

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