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October 2014: Message to Members

September 26th, 2014 by Craig Whitney

Astounding. Extraordinary. Staggering.Craig Whitney e1384196398346 207x300 October 2014: Message to Members

No matter what word you use to describe what it was like for Fargo to host ESPN College GameDay for the second year in a row, it will no doubt accurately describe the experience. This distinct honor is one we should all be proud of because the show afforded our community a national spotlight yet again.

For the second year in a row, the nation saw what makes this community a great place to live, work, play and do business.

For the second year in a row, sports fans across the country glimpsed the intense level of pride this community has in its college athletic programs.

For the second year in a row, many downtown businesses experienced a financial windfall unlike any other that began Wednesday night when the crew arrived and lasted through the day on Saturday as the last revelers enjoyed the limelight afforded by a national television show being broadcast in front of a local trademark.

While GameDay in Fargo is certainly something to be proud of, we shouldn’t forget about all the other reasons we can be proud of this community that we are fortunate to call home.

For example, Forbes magazine recently announced that Fargo topped its list of best small places for business and careers. The Lumina Foundation listed Minnesota in second place and North Dakota in fourth place when it comes to the best-educated states. Don’t forget that North Dakota is the best state for women entrepreneurs, according to the annual OPEN State of Women-Owned Business report.

It’s an exciting time to be in this community, and we at The Chamber are proud to represent so many incredible businesses and employees who are working together to improve our metro. We think you are all pretty extraordinary yourselves.

Thank you for your membership,
Craig Whitney
The Chamber

Meet the 2014-15 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Class

September 2nd, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

Congratulations to the 40 participants selected to be part of the Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo 2014-15 class.

The next nine months are sure to be full of excitement and education. Please help us congratulate the next group of leaders!

LFMWF 1 Meet the 2014 15 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo ClassLFMWF 2 Meet the 2014 15 Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Class

We’ve Modernized Our Look

September 2nd, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

New Bridge design Weve Modernized Our LookYou may have noticed a few changes throughout The Bridge this month.

We have incorporated changes across the publication but especially on the cover, page 2 and back page.

We see The Bridge as a great resource for our members, and we are constantly striving to make it better.

We’d love to hear your feedback on our new look. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please send them to thebridge@fmwfchamber.com.

Thanks for reading!

YPN: Celebrating 10 Years as a Chamber Program

August 29th, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

YPN 10 Year  email banner 300x107 YPN: Celebrating 10 Years as a Chamber ProgramWhen it comes to The Chamber, most milestone anniversaries are celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. However, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Young Professionals Network (YPN) requires a bit more pomp and circumstance.

This month, YPN members, Chamber members and the Board of Directors are invited to celebrate the program’s growth and achievements at a celebration on Thursday, September 25 at Cambria Suites. The event kicks off with a social before dinner, and the event concludes with a dueling pianos show that is sure to get everyone on their feet.

“Our Young Professionals Network has so much to be proud of, and we wanted to make sure we celebrated the program’s success,” said Chamber President and CEO Craig Whitney.

At the Beginning
Ten years ago, Fargo, North Dakota and the Midwest in general were making headlines, but not for the reasons they do today; a decade ago, reasons why young, college educated adults were fleeing in droves were being dissected by the masses.

According to a January 01, 2013, Bakken Today article, North Dakota lost more than 24,000 20- to 34-year olds. Between 2000 and 2001, the state’s population dropped 1.2 percent, the only state with a declining population at the time. A May 5, 2005, Economist article surmised that the brain drain problem was a symptom of successfully educating its residents but that the rural nature of the state was not a draw in keeping them.

“Call it the lure of the multiplex. North Dakota’s young people say that what makes for a wonderful childhood can be an inhospitable environment for young adults…Unlike migrants from many northern industrial cities, North Dakota’s youths are fleeing prosperity, not economic decline,” wrote Dennis Cauchon in USA Today in February 2004.

Enter YPN
When it was created, the YPN was the first of its kind in the area and was a direct response to the brain drain occurring. YPN held its first event at a Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks game, and more than 100 people attended the event. The program’s original mission statement included providing opportunities for young professionals to build a network and develop the skills needed to succeed in their chosen profession or occupation. The program also hoped to connect members to the community to encourage them to stay in the area.

At the beginning, the program was designed to include up to six training events and six socials each year. As membership grew and young professionals became more involved, the amount of events increased. Today, YPN hosts a monthly social gathering, a monthly training lunch as well as numerous other events. With more than 500 members to date, YPN has matured to a respectable program whose members go on to lead successful professional lives.

Flying Aces: Renowned Aviators Named 2014 Legacy Leaders

August 29th, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

Mac and Darrol 223x300 Flying Aces: Renowned Aviators Named 2014 Legacy LeadersIn terms of military achievement and aviation fame, one cannot imagine Alexander “Mac” Macdonald without Darrol Schroeder and vice versa. Both men were raised in Davenport, North Dakota, and both developed a longtime love of aviation and all things airplane-related. Macdonald enlisted in the military at age 19, becoming a mechanic and pilot who flew 36 combat missions in Korea. He became commander of the guard unit and sent the first woman pilot to Air Force training.

He spent 13 years as commander of the North Dakota Air National Guard (NDANG) 119th Fighter Group, the Happy Hooligans. During his time, Macdonald gained national prominence by winning the National Flight Safety Record Award, thrice winning the all-Air Force William Tell air-to-air competition, and the Daedalion Maintenance Award. Macdonald became the first North Dakota Air National Guardsman to assume the state’s top post of adjutant general.

Macdonald earned a North Dakota Distinguished Service Medal for safely landing a transport aircraft carrying Governor Bill Guy and First Lady Jean Guy. He earned the highest rating as an air defense pilot — Master of Air Defense — and retired in 1993 after 45 years of military service.

Meanwhile, Schroeder began his aviation career when he hitchhiked to Hector Airport to take lessons, eventually flying a 65-horsepower Aeronca Champ solo at age 16. During his senior year of high school Schroeder joined the North Dakota Air National Guard and was commissioned after he graduated from NDSU in 1951. He became an Air Force instructor, flight examiner, and test pilot.

He served 40 years of active duty in Germany, France and the National Guard, eventually serving as Major General. At his retirement in 1989, Schroeder had accumulated more than 5,000 fighter aircraft hours. While serving, Schroeder founded Schroeder Aviation, Inc., an agricultural aviation and fixedbase operation in Davenport. He operated a fleet of 12 aircraft and accumulated more than 12,000 aerial application hours serving area farmers until 1989.

Schroeder also helped lead the Happy Hooligans, first as flight commander and later as director of group operations, mentoring many young fighter pilots assigned to him. In 1974, Schroeder was promoted to Brigadier General and Chief of Staff of the NDANG. In 1983, he was assigned as ANG assistant to the commander of Air Forces in Europe.
After retiring from the military, Schroeder became director of business development for the UND Aerospace program and played a key role in acquiring the first civilian high altitude pressure chamber in the United States. As a civilian, Macdonald worked as chief executive officer of Dakota First Capital Corporation, a small business investment corporation in Fargo.

He and Schroeder combined their aviation passion and business savvy to found the Fargo Air Museum, becoming instrumental players in the effort to keep the organization solvent. In founding the museum, Macdonald and Schroeder helped develop a mission statement and long-term plan, and opened the first hangar in 2001. Both continue to be involved with the museum in a variety of ways; in 2013, Macdonald served as a guide for an aviation history tour at the museum, discussing the Cold War with approximately 150 West Fargo sophomores. Both Schroeder and Macdonald were inducted into the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Schroeder’s other civic contributions include serving as treasurer for the National Agricultural Aviation Association, a member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame Nominating Committee, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, MeritCare board of directors (a role that led him to initiate the first air medical operation in the area), the governing board and building committee of the North Dakota Veterans Home, and the North Dakota Aviation Association. He also served a four-year term on the Forces Reserve Policy Board after being appointed by the secretary of defense.

For 20 years, Schroeder has served as the co-chairman of the biannual Fargo Airshow, an event that brings people from beyond the region and offers tangible value to the local economy. In 1987, Schroeder received the North Dakota National Leadership Award of Excellence and the FAA Master Pilot Award in 2005 for 50 consecutive years of accident-free flight. Macdonald’s civic contributions include serving on the Municipal Airport Authority for more than 20 years, president of the state Elks Association, commander of the American Legion Post, chair of the North Dakota State Games and chairman of the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery Foundation.

In 2013, both Schroeder and Macdonald witnessed the last Learjet leaving the 119th Wing in Fargo, leaving the Happy Hooligans without a manned flying mission for the first time in their distinguished 66-year history, according to an Aug. 27, 2013, Forum article. After returning to Fargo after his tour of duty in the Korean War, Macdonald piloted the P-51 Mustang, the first fighter plane to fly under the umbrella of the newly formed NDANG.

North Dakota remains the only state in the nation without a manned Air Guard flying mission. Schroeder and Macdonald are active members of The Chamber’s Military Affairs committee and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Air National Guard Support Group, and as such, both have traveled to Washington, D.C., with Chamber leadership to lobby in support of reinstating a manned flying mission in North Dakota.

Macdonald and Schroeder will be honored at The Chamber’s Fourth Annual Meeting on September 11.

September 2014: Message to Members

August 29th, 2014 by Craig Whitney

IMG 9512 1 199x300 September 2014: Message to MembersSeptember marks the start of The Chamber’s fiscal year, and this will be our fourth year as a consolidated organization representing this thriving metro. It is my great privilege to
step into the Board chair role for the upcoming year, and I especially want to thank Bernie Dardis for his excellent leadership this past year.

Your Chamber has an aggressive agenda for the coming year as we continue our mission of promoting economic growth and prosperity for business and its members through
advocacy, education and engagement.

Two top priority items that we will continue to advance are permanent flood protection and workforce development. We are excited to see progress on the journey toward protecting
our homes and businesses from disastrous flooding with the federal authorization of funding for the diversion project. The Chamber, the Board of Directors and our Business Leaders for Permanent Flood Protection Task Force will continue to advocate for the project until it becomes a reality.

With the amazing growth happening in our area workforce availability and development has become a major focus. As the regional representative of more than 2,100 businesses, we hear often that our members are successful but could be even more so if all the open jobs were filled. The Chamber believes our quality of life will attract people to the area but the availability of competitive-pay jobs and abundant amenities will be the factors that keep them in the area.

In addition to these community priorities, The Chamber is excited to offer new programs that will focus on two important demographics: women and young people. We believe our
community can only improve when we focus on these two groups, and we are excited to see these programs get rolling.

Thank you to all the Board members who are currently serving or have served; your commitment to seeing The Chamber grow and prosper is appreciated. I am also grateful to the innumerable volunteers who devote their time and talent to The Chamber.

Finally, thank you, members, for believing in the work of this organization and engaging with the organization. We recognize that our success lies parallel with yours, and we continue to evaluate how we can improve our programs, events, and services to ensure they remain valuable to you. Thank you for making The Chamber the strong organization it is today!

Doug Restemayer
D-S Beverages
2014-15 Chair of the Board

State of Technology Highlights Newest Trends

August 21st, 2014 by Danielle Teigen

North Dakota’s current economic success translates to being in a prime position to become one of the most technologically advanced cities. That assertion was made by both U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and Doug Burgum at the State of Technology yesterday.

“We can make Fargo the technology and entrepreneurial hub of not just North Dakota, but of this country, and I believe we are already on our way,” Hoeven said during his opening remarks.

Burgum’s presentation focused on the technology trends at work in the energy, agriculture, health care and education sectors, while issuing a new challenge regarding workforce development. He cited the more than 23,000 job openings as a challenge to be addressed immediately.

“That is work not being done, income not going to a family and progress not being made by a company,” Burgum said. He reissued his challenge to develop the fastest internet service available as a way to attract more workers and companies to the area to fulfill the workforce gap.

A highlight of the event was the social media engagement – nearly 700 hashtag mentions were recorded.

Be sure to check out the September issue of The Bridge to read more about the event! You can see photos of the event online.

Thank you to all the speakers who contributed to the event, including:

  • Katie Hasbargen, Microsoft
  • U.S. Senator John Hoeven
  • Gary Inman, ITCND
  • Kevin Czarnecki, Susan Brown and Peter Boesen, General Electric
  • Shane Waslaski, Intelligent InSites
  • Tristan Polluck, Storefront
  • Tim Brookins, Microsoft
  • Jake Joraanstad, Myriad Mobile
  • Jean Maaske, Z!ng

Thank you to our sponsors!

  • Midcontinent Communications
  • Microsoft
  • TMI Hospitality
  • Sanford Health
  • Otter Tail Corporation
  • KFGO-AM Mighty 790
  • NDSU Research and Technology Park
  • Enventis
  • Essentia Health
  • NetWork Center, Inc.
  • Onsharp
  • Media Productions


Honor Star Members Experience Camp Ripley

August 11th, 2014 by Jessica Lee

Ripley Group 1024x470 Honor Star Members Experience Camp Ripley

Honor Star members spent a day with the Minnesota National Guard as they conducted their Annual Training  at Camp Ripley. This day-long expedition was offered to Honor Star members at no cost to increase understanding  and appreciation for the skill and commitment of our service  members.

Honor Star members take turns firing pneumatic M16A4 rifle simulators. These simulators  are part of the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, or EST2000, which enables soldiers to train on both basic and advanced marksmanship, on a variety of weapons systems, in an indoor or mobile platform.

Participants are briefed at the entrance to Camp Ripley’s Combined Arms Collective  Training Facility. This multi-acre facility incorporates a variety of houses and buildings  in order to replicate a small village, which can then be assaulted, patrolled, or defended, depending on the desired training.

Rampaart and members of the HHC 2-136 Infantry (CAB) Mortar Platoon give an overview of the 120mm Mortar Gun Tube mounted in an M1064 Mortar Track Carrier.  Rampaart serves as the Moorhead-based 2-136 liaison to The Chamber’s Military Affairs  committee.

Honor Star members ate a meal ready to eat, or MRE, for lunch while tank gunnery launch occurred down range.

Special thanks to Lt. Col. Jason Benson and Captain Peter Rampaart for the unforgettable experience.

Photo’s on Flickr



Join Us: Fargo Armed Forces Reserve Center Showcase

August 6th, 2014 by Jessica Lee

Ever wonder what kind of training and operations are taking place at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Fargo?

Join the Military Affairs committee on Thursday August 14 at 11 a.m. to find out.

For details and to RSVP contact Jessica at jlee@fmwfchamber.com or 218.359.0511.


  • Posting of the flag, Pledge of Allegiance – Auditorium
  • Welcome and introductions – Steve Blazek, Military Affairs committee chair
  • Briefing from Lt. Col. Lien – North Dakota Army National Guard
  • Station Demonstrations: Weapons System Display, Beam Hit (Weapons Trainer), Taser Demonstration, Funeral Honors and Static Displays.



Chamber Names Alexander Macdonald and Darrol Schroeder 2014 Legacy Leaders

August 3rd, 2014 by Danielle Teigen
Legacy Leader Chamber Names Alexander Macdonald and Darrol Schroeder 2014 Legacy Leaders

Alexander Macdonald (left) and Darrol Schroeder (right)

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber has named Alexander “Mac” Macdonald and Darrol Schroeder the joint recipients of the 2014 Legacy Leader Award.

The Legacy Leader Award recognizes and emphasizes the important role and contributions of long-time local leaders in both shaping and serving The Chamber, metropolitan community and region.

Macdonald and Schroeder will be honored at The Chamber’s Annual Meeting on September 11 at the Holiday Inn in Fargo.

Macdonald and Schroeder were raised in Davenport, ND, and share a love for country and all things aviation-related. Both men held leadership positions in the North Dakota Air National Guards’ (NDANG) 119th Wing, the Happy Hooligans.

Macdonald was the first NDANG member to assume the state’s top post of adjutant general, while Schroeder led the Happy Hooligans as a flight commander, director of group operations, and later founded an agricultural aviation company called Schroeder Aviation, Inc.

Macdonald and Schroeder are also known as the founders of the Fargo Air Museum and remain active in the organization. In addition to a host of military and leadership awards, Schroeder and Macdonald were both inducted into the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Cost to attend the Annual Meeting is $35 in advance or $45 at the door.

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