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What we learned from Robyn Benincasa

January 24th, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

Yesterday at the Delta by Marriott, over 500 women had the privilege of hearing from national keynote speaker and the inspiring and engaging adventure racer Robyn Benincasa for a special anniversary celebration.

Robyn women connect

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL PHOTO ALBUM

Committee members Kristi Huber, United Way, and Carrie Carney, Eventide, welcomed attendees and played a video recapping the past year of Women Connect programming.

When Robyn took the stage, she immediately engaged the crowd with her high energy, intriguing stories and relatable jokes. The presentation featured numerous video clips of her adventures around the world that illustrated her key takeaways, and there were countless inspirational quotes uttered.

Throughout the talk, Robyn shared the four essential elements that make winners win.

  1. Courage

The way you show courage is by finding a way to bring your best self even on your worst day, she said. “You don’t have to stop crying; you just have to keep walking.”

  1. Luck

“When I say luck, I mean the moment where opportunity meets preparation. Great winners are always scanning the horizon for opportunities.”

  1. Adversity management

This refers to the ability to adapt and respond to change. “It’s not about the setback; it’s about the comeback. … Do the best you can with what you’ve got.”

  1. We-thinking vs. me-thinking

Learn to work with a team. If your goal can be accomplished alone, it’s too small. “Being a winner isn’t about a particular outcome. It’s about who you are and what you do.”

All attendees were also treated to cute desserts from the Delta, take-home inspiration coasters, and a challenge from Robyn herself: Set one huge personal goal to achieve in the next 60 days and tell two people about it.

Here are a few responses from attendees in our survey!

“I was so inspired by Robyn. She had a strong message yet was relatable enough to make me believe it was achievable.”

“Loved her and her story. Great enthusiasm and energy. She tied her racing with so many wonderful life lessons.”

“She was AMAZING!!!!! and INSPIRING!!!”

Check out these Tweets from attendees!

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State of the Cities 2018 Recap

January 11th, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

On a stormy winter morning, over 600 people gathered at the Holiday Inn for an update on our metro cities from four local mayors at the 2018 State of the Cities. We heard updates on achievements from 2017 and looked ahead to plans and priorities for the coming year. The mood was once again positive, and we celebrated themes of growth and prosperity. Joel Heitkamp, KFGO, and Mark Nisbet, Xcel Energy, served as emcees.

Thank you to presenting sponsor Xcel Energy!

Updates from Chad Olson, Dilworth

In our easternmost city, mayor Olson lamented the closing of their local Dairy Queen, but noted the silver lining in the opening of Kool Kone. Casey’s is expanding, and is even in talks of buying the city hall. “In 2018, we have to have a larger look to how we effectively use space and maximize tax dollars,” he said.

It’s big news that some industry giants like BNSF and ALDI are investing in building in the town. “Symbolically, as you see the 34th Street corridor grow, this is the ideal opportunity to grow businesses from its infant stages and develop throughout the region. This also highlights the interconnectedness of our region,” he said.

Looking at housing in Dilworth, mayor Olson noted that residential lots were full in 2017, which makes growth a challenge. Ultimately, what prevailed was an outside company that came in and will build approximately 20 lots in the Summerwood 3rd addition. In addition, in September, an extension to the East was approved to build a Keystone development. “When we put these two together, we’re looking at nearly a 100-acre property,” he said. “These will resolve our issue with lots, maintain the integrity of existing neighborhoods, offer high-quality affordable housing and we’re going to grow the city of Dilworth in a very pragmatic and sustainable fashion.”

Olson also praised some of the city’s employees, including the police’s efforts to serve the community. Last year’s Home for the Holidays program served over 200 families in the region, and 18,000 pounds of supplies were donated to hurricane relief.

Updates from Del Rae Williams, Moorhead

In Moorhead, we heard about population growth to near 45,000, and the building of 640 new single family homes and 964 new multi-family apartments. The schools grew as well, with the new Dorothy Dodds opening, as well as West campus for Horizon Middle School, and expansions on the college campuses. Moorhead is also proud to boast about its new diverging diamond interchange on 8th Street and I-94. We now look ahead to the railroad grade separation.

The city debuted a new recycling program, and an upcoming materials recovery facility in Clay County will save on recycling transportation costs. A new law enforcement center coming soon will also increase efficiency, safety and effectiveness of police efforts.

An arts & culture commission and its projects is one of mayor Williams’ favorite accomplishments.

“Along with strong department leadership and a dedicated workforce, Moorhead is well positioned to continue to grow and prosper,” she closed with.

Updates from Tim Mahoney, Fargo

Mayor Mahoney used four key words to describe the city of Fargo: innovative, responsive, efficient and strategic.

In 2017, Fargo signed wastewater agreements with West Fargo and Horace. Police hosted various Unity events to interact with local youth. The city won a national energy prize. The Roberts Commons parking garage opened, marking one of the first P3 projects downtown.

We’ll also be seeing work to improve the landfills, and single-sort recycling program is now in motion. On the roads, the 32nd Avenue corridor project was completed last year with the NDDOT. In 2018, we’ll see work on improving University Drive, 10th Street North, Roberts, Fourth Street South and 13th Avenue.

Narcan is now in schools, and police and firefighters are trained in administering Narcan, to address the opioid crisis.

The new city hall is expected to be completed in 2018, and the F-M Diversion remains a top priority for the city.

He also mentioned a public arts master plan, FARGODOME attendance records, Bison football wins and the new Sanford hospital.

Mayor Mahoney’s video closed with a thank you message to everyone that helps make Fargo the best place to live, raise a family and operate a business.

Updates from Rich Mattern, West Fargo

In our westernmost update, the city of West Fargo now boasts a population of 35,000, with 9,000 people coming into town for work. Mayor Mattern mentioned various infrastructure improvement projects, including the major Sheyenne Street reconstruction and the partnership with Fargo for sewage treatment.

The city is also seeing major growth in its schools. The 13th elementary school opened last year. A 14th is being built now, and a 15th is planned.

Veteran’s Blvd continues its development, and Sheyenne Plaza was completed. More developments are providing infill growth. Plans for Lights at Sheyenne 32 were unveiled for even more mixed-use buildings. A West Fargo Convention Center at the fairgrounds is another major project coming soon.

Mattern also mentioned that the fire department transitioned to a volunteer system for faster response time and better safety.

If you missed the event or want to rewatch it in its entirety, you can find re-airings on TV Fargo 56.

Live Poll Results

We conducted two live polls to engage our audience and see what they think most matters.

On question 1, we asked which community issue you thought was most important right now. With 39% of the vote, the top answer was once again workforce.

In question 2, we asked if you think the cities should continue to take advantage of business tax incentive programs. 70% of you said YES.

 

Check out these videos from the cities.

Here’s the recap from The Forum: Fargo-Moorhead area enjoyed growth in 2017, mayors say in annual ‘State of the Cities’ address

Check out these Tweets from attendees!

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Homeward Animal Shelter: Connecting Families with Furry Friends

January 1st, 2018 by Amanda Huggett

One can hardly mention Homeward Animal Shelter without getting warm fuzzies over everything this organization does for animals in our community.

volunteer with dog

You may remember them as the former Humane Society, which served our community for 51 years, with the mission of preventing the euthanization of impounded animals in the area. Since July 2014, they’ve been known as Homeward Animal Shelter with the core value of bringing pets and people together. And, they’re the only shelter in the area that rescues both cats and dogs.

This shelter takes in over half of the stray, lost and abandoned animals that end up in local pounds. They also take in pets surrendered by their owners as well as transfers from other rescues. Once in their care, they make sure all their basic needs are met while they wait to be placed with their human companion.

homeward leadership teamDuring the last 51 years, it is estimated that Homeward Animal Shelter has placed 35,000 cats and dogs into lifelong homes. In 2016 alone, 837 animals found families to call their own.

In fact, they achieved the impossible in 2016 by adopting every single dog in their care. It is something that has never been done before in our area. And the records don’t stop there. This past October, they adopted out over 100 animals in that month alone.

At the helm of it all for over 10 years is the shelter’s executive director, Nukhet Hendricks, whose passion for her work overflows when she speaks about the animals in her care. “The organization is about not just rescuing, but creating a partnership with our community, educating people about the compassionate care of animals, being an advocate for them, and making sure that families have a four-legged friend in their home, because pets are the fabric of our lives,” she said.

Homeward Animal Shelter has also been a major player in emergency animal sheltering, as demonstrated in 2009 while successfully housing and caring for over 200 animals belonging to misplaced families during the flood.

cat at homeward shelterVolunteers are an invaluable part of the organization. Over 160 volunteers every week assist with socializing pets, assist with fundraising, adoption events and processing adoptions. They provide volunteer opportunities for individuals of all abilities and ages as young as 8.

“Non-profits are created because one person cannot do what they believe in by themselves,” Hendricks said. “Donors invest and trust in us to know we will do the right thing by the animals. They invest in our organization, and we can do more together than we could alone. That’s what keeps us going. I have the best team ever, and they never cease to amaze me.”

The impact of Homeward Animal Shelter is immeasurable, affecting both humans and pets alike, and it’s clear that they’re leaving a positive paw-print on the community.

How to help

Monetary donations are most helpful for Homeward Shelter to care for their animals and continue their mission. To donate, volunteer, adopt or learn more, visit homewardonline.org or call 701.239.0077.

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Entrepreneur of the Year: Josh Teigen

December 1st, 2017 by Amanda Huggett

Josh Teigen may only be in his mid-20s, but he’s already a seasoned entrepreneur with a number of successful business ventures under his belt, earning him the title of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year.

Josh Teigen

His business journey started at age 14 when he began working as a diesel mechanic. By high school, he took that income and began investing in the stock market during classes. This caught the attention of his schoolmates and teachers, and soon he capitalized on his day trading expertise by starting an email newsletter. One of those who ended up on Teigen’s email list was none other than Doug Burgum, who took note and eventually hired him at Kilbourne Group.

While working for Burgum, Teigen used the opportunity to observe others he viewed as successful in business. It rubbed off, because by Teigen’s freshman year of college, he was already acting as CEO of a startup in Pittsburgh from his dorm room in Grand Forks. After that, he started his own consulting firm, Crossfox Innovation.

But once he met a man named Cooper Bierscheid, a new idea flourished. Both men realized they could be stronger together than alone, and they teamed up to run what is now known as Protosthetics, an innovative startup that designs, manufactures and distributes 3-D printed devices.

Teigen maintains that Bierscheid is the engineering brain behind the operations, and he handles the sales and marketing, strategy and finance. Teigen says that the Protosthetics business model has two functions: to manufacture products for the clinics they serve, and R&D for new products. “These feed into each other, and it’s cool because we can leverage state-of-the-art technology and bring that innovation to an industry that has done things the same way since the ‘50s,” he said. 3-D printing is able to provide mass customization versus mass production, which had been the norm.

Their hard work paid off, and Teigen has lead Protosthetics onto a national and worldwide stage, not to mention, has doubled revenues every year since its inception. The company even had an offer for a reality TV show for a time.

“Being able to be a disrupting force is really fun,” he said. Referring to what Uber did to the taxi industry, his goal is to do the same for their market and grow the company as big as they can.

Teigen’s work ethic is unmatched, and his drive for success is undeniable. One of his own guiding principles is to outwork everyone. By balancing this with treating others with respect and leading by example, it’s no wonder so many look up to him.

Protosthetics employs about 15 people, many of them interns from NDSU’s engineering department. “I’ve learned that you don’t build a business; you build people, and people build the business for you,” he said. “Invest in developing your team. Get the right people on the bus, and then all you have to do is steer.”

Teigen gives back by serving as instructor for our own Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). One of the pieces of advice he gives to budding entrepreneurs is to pursue something you’re relentlessly passionate about. He also serves on the board of directors for Mind Shift, an organization that partners with businesses to recruit, assess, train and employ skilled and motivated people on the autism spectrum.

When he’s not busy saving the world, you might find Teigen outdoors, most likely fishing, hunting, skiing or spending time at the lake.

Teigen stays humble in the fact that Fargo is his roots. He says North Dakota is the best place in the world to start a business. “You’re only as successful as the community you’re in,” he said.

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Community rallies for Kusters family

November 17th, 2017 by Amanda Huggett

You may have seen the media stories about Lukas Kusters, the 10-year-old who made national news for his affection for Carson Wentz. ESPN originally aired a piece about the child’s wish to meet his favorite athlete. Thankfully, he was able to fulfill that before his passing too soon from stomach cancer. It was both a heartbreaking and heartwarming story that captured many.

kusters at NDSU

It was a pleasure for our community to rally together in the aftermath and provide an opportunity for Lukas’ family to visit Fargo. It was an idea spurred by our own president Craig Whitney, who saw the story and thought of the incredible opportunity to bring the family here. Thanks to the generosity of many Chamber members, the Kusters family came to town for the NDSU Bison’s final home game in November and received the red carpet treatment.

kusters at CVBThank you to the following Chamber businesses that donated, supported, hosted and helped make a great trip possible for this family.

  • Gateway Chevrolet
  • Gate City Bank
  • NDSU Athletics
  • The Boiler Room
  • Herd & Horns
  • Lucky’s 13 Pub
  • Granite City
  • Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitor’s Bureau
  • SCHEELS
  • Cyclebar
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Dakota

Check out the original video on Lukas with this ESPN segment:

Catch our own president Craig Whitney live on KVRR-TV’s morning show to talk more about the family’s visit: LIVE: How The Kusters Family Came To Town

Letter: Thanks for making the Kusters family visit a memorable one

Kolpack: Memory of the ‘Dutch Destroyer’ landing in Fargo this weekend

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A recap on the metro’s regional and economic growth

November 7th, 2017 by Amanda Huggett

With noticeable growth in population, new businesses and schools, continued low unemployment, incentives and more, there’s no doubt that our metro is booming. So, what are our city leaders planning to keep up with this growth and how will it affect us in the coming years? Our November Eggs & Issues event looked at that very issue.

Jim Gilmour, Director of Planning and Development, City of Fargo; Cindy Graffeo, Executive Director, Moorhead Economic Development Authority; and Matt Marshall, Economic Development & Community Services Director, City of West Fargo; each sat down with our room full of 200 engaged attendees.

Gilmour provided an overview of the region’s population, housing and development stats, and what specific units and businesses are coming for the city of Fargo. The MSA has a projected population of 276,560 by the year 2025, which amounts to about 12 new people per day.

Another special note for Fargo’s downtown development: Property values have increased by $300 million since the revitalization effort there. That’s $4.8 million in property tax revenue. If we didn’t have the Renaissance Zone, the mills would be about 4% higher, Gilmour said.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW GILMOUR’S SLIDES.

In West Fargo, the city’s population is about 35,000, a median age of 33.9 and household income of $73,402 — the latter is 26% higher than the rest of the region. Marshall also noted that now, almost as many people travel in to the city to work and those that leave to work in nearby cities.

He also referenced West Fargo’s Main Street initiative and its own downtown development, as well as the new Hornbacher’s and Sheyenne road reconstruction, and the proposed West Fargo Convention Center.

New initiatives there will include replacing aging infrastructure, continued work on Sheyenne, new growth areas, workforce and decommissioning lagoons.

Over on the Moorhead side, they’ve added about 10,000 people since 2002, and expect to have over 47,000 residents by 2020. “As we grow, Moorhead is committed to providing for the needs of our residents, but we want to meet those needs well,” Graffeo said. “We are committed to staying the best small city in America, even as we grow larger. We know that this will take planning.”

Three areas of the city have been identified for future expansion in the Southwest, Southeast and East. They will be also focusing on a downtown revitalization, but also keeping infill development top of mind. Specific projects in the works include “The Grove,” housing on First Avenue and the new mixed-use building on Eighth and Main.

Things to watch out for in Moorhead include changes to twin-home sprinkler recommendations, the 20/21st Street grade separation, new businesses and M State’s new workforce development center.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW GRAFFEO’S SLIDES.

Check out The Forum’s coverage of this event and topic: City leaders discuss rising population, emerging needs in FMWF

Check out these Tweets from the event!

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Position available: Government Affairs and Advocacy Coordinator

November 7th, 2017 by Amanda Huggett

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce is seeking candidates to fill the role of Government Affairs and Advocacy Coordinator.

This position assists the President with the development of public policy related to business and community issues within the scope of The Chamber’s mission on advocacy, education and engagement, as well as the development of all programming functions within the government affairs areas. This position will advocate for The Chamber and its members at the local, state and federal levels. This position coordinates four corresponding committees and serves as a resource to research and assist in forming The Chamber’s position on policy.

Successful candidates will possess strong working knowledge of local, state and federal government; written and verbal communication and public relations skills; multi-tasking capabilities; as well as the ability to network effectively and adapt to a dynamic environment. Requires a bachelor’s degree in political science, public administration, business administration or related field and three years of related work experience. This is an exempt, full-time position with benefits.

Download the job description.

Apply by emailing your cover letter outlining salary requirements, resume and professional references to jparsons@fmwfchamber.com.

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Young Professionals Best Place to Work: Sundog

November 1st, 2017 by Amanda Huggett

You’ve probably already heard of local marketing and technology firm Sundog for their fun company culture, but what you might not know is how much emphasis they put on creating a great place to work for young professionals.

Sundog

And as winner of this year’s ChamberChoice YP best place to work, their efforts are clearly working. “We have a great team here at Sundog, and being recognized as a great place to work affirms that our priorities are in the right place,” Eric Dukart, chief strategy officer, said.

Founded in 1995 as a tech startup, today they say Sundog is not just an ad agency or software firm. They’re a best-of-both-worlds hybrid. With offices in Fargo and Minneapolis and a client base throughout the U.S., they’re focused on helping their clients create digital transformation, which they say is a major shift for many industries.

While Sundog works across the country, they hold Fargo close to their heart. The company’s leadership team all graduated from local universities, and many grew up here. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why they focus heavily on their Sundog internship program – to continue to recruit the best local talent and inspire the next generation of leaders. (Fun fact: Even the name of the company is inspired by Fargo! ‘Sundog’ is a nod to the phenomenon that occurs on cold, sunny days.)

With about 100 full-time employees at Sundog, 70% are under the age of 35, and all are encouraged to take part in all aspects of the company. They recognize that talent has nothing to do with age, and allow everyone who works there to make his or her mark, regardless of their role or longevity.

Because Sundog’s culture is family first, they provide a number of fun events like a Halloween and holiday party. On Fridays, they have Four O’ Clocks, where everyone gathers for food, drinks and games. And their Culture Club plans events that encourage a collaborative environment. One recent intern planned an in-office yoga session called “Downward Sundog.”

Sundog’s young professionals are encouraged to attend conferences throughout the year. When they learn new things, team members can host Tech Talks during the workday.

Sundog puts great importance on collaborating with the community. “It isn’t just about doing well. It’s about doing good,” Dukart said. “Our outreach is built around giving our time, talents and treasure to our community.” For instance, their Education Innovators program focuses on giving back through pro bono projects, sponsorships and mentorship opportunities at local schools and tech camps.

It’s clear that leadership believes that culture is at the heart of their success, and they make sure to live their core values in every aspect of the business. Their philosophy is to do what you love and love what you do. That focus on people and passion is reflected everywhere, from being employee-owned to modern office spaces, to monthly social events.

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Tax Reform Framework Recap with Rep. Cramer

October 19th, 2017 by Amanda Huggett

Earlier this week, we welcomed ND Congressman Kevin Cramer to The Chamber for a special discussion on tax reform. Prompted by talks at the federal level, this roundtable allowed local business leaders and Chamber board members to learn the specifics and weigh in with their questions and concerns.

Chamber Cramer visit

The Unified Tax Reform Framework follows a plan put together by the Trump administration and Congress. It has four main goals: to make the tax code simple, fair and easy to understand; give American workers a pay raise; and level the playing field and make America the jobs magnet of the world.

Cramer explained a few highlights of the plan, which include shrinking the current seven tax brackets into three for individuals and families, repealing the death tax and alternative minimum tax, creating a lower tax rate and structure for small businesses, allowing expensing of capital investments, and more.

“Part of The Chamber’s public policy agenda is to connect businesses with political leaders for healthy discussion,” Chamber President & CEO Craig Whitney said. “I think our event did just that, and our members were able to walk away with more information on the issue and feeling heard from our leaders in Washington. The Chamber was the perfect venue for discussing reforming the tax code. Ninety percent of our members are small businesses. If this is to go through as discussed, it could be the largest tax cut in the history of our country.”

“This tax reform has had the advantage of going second,” Cramer said. “The failure of health care [reform] has a lot to do with being first and not having the luxury of time that tax reform has had.”

He also explained their idea for “postcard” tax filing – an idea that with such a simplified tax system, up to 96% of Americans could complete their taxes on a sheet the size of a postcard. “These 14 lines could provide everything the IRS would need to process [your return],” he said.

tax postcard

Thank you to AM 1100 The Flag for broadcasting the meeting live statewide during Scott Hennen’s show, What’s On Your Mind.

For more information on the tax reform plan, visit www.fairandsimple.gop.

Check out this Forum article for their takeaways from Cramer’s discussion!

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Awarding the Ambassador of the Year

October 17th, 2017 by Amanda Huggett

Congratulations to Billy Nustad of Bell Bank for being named the Wayne Saar Ambassador of the Year! This award is given annually and recognizes exemplified volunteerism through committee involvement, attendance and professionalism. The ambassador of the year is nominated by fellow ambassadors in honor of a stellar member of the ambassadors group, Wayne Saar. Wayne was a very active ambassador, well-liked by all who knew him, participated in over 3,000 ribbon cuttings and dedicated 30 years of service to The Chamber’s Public Relations committee.

ambassador of the year

Chamber ambassadors play a crucial role in the community, welcoming new businesses and celebrating the successes of our members. The ambassadors, who serve as the public relations arm of the organization, are the most visible committee at The Chamber, participating in a number of ribbon-cutting and ground-breaking ceremonies each year.

Thank you Billy for your dedication and hard work!

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