Fargo Moorhead Has Heart

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

This quote by an unknown author (often misattributed to Winston Churchill) represents the outlook of many in the Fargo Moorhead area, a community known for its giving. While many are drawn here by a job, they often choose to stay because of our charitable culture.

Non-profit organizations – and those they serve – benefit greatly from donations of our time and treasure. Each year, FM residents contribute thousands of volunteer hours and tens of millions of dollars to hundreds of charities.

United Way of Cass-Clay, The Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF), and the FM Area Foundation are among the organizations here that facilitate giving – connecting donors and volunteers to the needs of the community.

“The generous spirit of the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo community is at the heart of what makes it an extraordinary place to grow-up, do business, raise a family, build a life and even move back to,” said Kristi Huber, President of United Way of Cass-Clay. United Way makes investments in the community toward four goals: reducing hunger and homelessness, preparing children to succeed, helping people be independent, and lifting people out of poverty. It raised $5.7 million to invest in those efforts last year.

“We have great generosity here,” said Pat Traynor, Executive Director of DMF. “There are many philanthropic opportunities where people can give their money, talent and leadership. When people are involved in their community, that helps them feel welcomed and connected – so they want to stay. We are a community that helps each other.”

DMF helps non-profits and volunteers master fundraising, hosts online donations for charities, and provides the area’s largest database of volunteer opportunities. Earlier this year, DMF facilitated a record-breaking Giving Hearts Day event, which raised nearly $10.7 million for 360 charitable causes in the region through more than 50,000 donations.

“More than a third of these donations were from new donors,” Traynor said. “More and more people are engaging with charities for the first time, and that is very cool. This means the culture of giving is spreading and the growth potential is huge.”

Fargo-Moorhead’s thriving non-profit sector includes many charities that help with foundational needs like shelter, food, life skills, health care, and education. There are also organizations with specialty programs like the arts, science, math, and fitness.

The FM community cares for animals as well as people. Organizations such as Adopt-A-Pet, Homeward Animal Shelter, Minn-Kota Paaws and Cats Cradle Shelter give lost and abandoned animals a second chance for a happy home.

Both Huber and Traynor highlighted how the for-profit sector helps the non-profit sector succeed.

“You have to have a thriving business community to have a thriving safety net, and companies here are very purposeful, caring and civic minded,” Traynor said.

This generosity and kindness is reflected by the $1.8 million raised last year by Lend-A-Hand program managed by DMF, he added. Many businesses gladly donate auction items and dollars for local medical assistance fundraisers.

“When people hear that someone needs help, they pitch in,” Traynor said. “They lift others up. It’s incredible to see.”

The United Way also sees local businesses model social responsibility and community involvement. Last year, 650 businesses partnered with the United Way on giving campaigns.

Many companies match employee donations of money, and some – like Microsoft – provide matches for volunteer time as well. Other companies – like Bell Bank – empower employees to give using corporate dollars.

“I have seen the power and impact of philanthropy in our community,” Huber said. “Generosity is our community’s strength because it has the greatest capacity to advance us all.”

What You Need To Know About One Million Cups Fargo And Why You Should Attend

If you haven’t been to 1 Million Cups Fargo before, you should really check it out. This free, weekly event is part of a larger 1 Million Cups community started and supported by the Kauffman Foundation out of Kansas City. You can find an event every Wednesday morning in cities across the country. Our local event brings together some of the most eager of Fargo Moorhead’s minds into one brainstorming party!

One Million Cups Fargo has swelled since its beginnings in 2012. In fact, 1MC used to be held in the Plain’s Arts Museum until it outgrew its space. Then the meeting was moved for a short time to the Fargo Public Library before quickly outgrowing that space too. It’s now held every Wednesday morning at the very suitable Island Park Stage. Not only is Fargo’s 1MCFAR successful, it’s one of the largest and the most active in the country!

The door to the theater doesn’t open till exactly five minutes before the presentation. This encourages the participants to socialize and, of course, grab a free cup of coffee! (Shout out to 20 Below for their great coffee!)

Each event is not just a lecture but its own adventure! At a recent event, the week’s spotlight speaker was preceded by the owner of Weave Got Maille. She shared her story of persistence inspired by 1MC (which led her company to win a “World’s Greatest” award). Then an employee of CoSchedule demonstrated the art of Japanese swordsmanship for a “Random Act of Art”.

The main event, or presentation spotlight, was Anthony Molzahn. Molzahn is a co-founder of Project Phoenix, a universal business web service. He gave us a quick run-down of his story and the story of the company. Presenters try to keep the information concise, short, and easy for everyone attending to understand.

After about a ten-minute presentation, the entrepreneur is invited to sit down and answer questions from the crowd. Interns run microphones into the crowd for the curious. If you are on the shy side, you can just tweet your questions using the hashtag #1MCFar.

The final question is asked every time and is the most important; “What can the community do to help you and your business?” The point of 1 Million Cups is to support entrepreneurs, spark ideas and to push ideas further faster. It’s just one more proof point of a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in our community. We can be proud of our community and the strides we are making in the entrepreneurial world. See you Wednesday morning!

Your Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. – A Catalyst

The EDC’s playbook is full. Our organization attends and supports 1 Million Cups, the entrepreneurial gathering; meets with K-12 superintendents; organizes manufacturing tours for high schoolers and recruits companies to our community (and that’s just a small sampling of our activities).

We’re a bit different from the economic development corporation you might remember. We’ve evolved in response to the current economic climate. Our business attraction strategy targets specific sectors like technology and unmanned aerial systems (drones). But we do so much more to create a community that is attractive to new business. This is important since we boast a very low unemployment rate with a high number of open jobs which inhibits our ability to recruit companies to the area.

Our organization sees a bigger picture for the Fargo Moorhead metro. We see a region where education, entrepreneurism and businesses come together to create a better economy.

Our vision includes a place where education equips needed workers, as well as future leaders, who take ideas and turn them into companies. With that in mind, we partner with area schools and higher education institutions to prepare a workforce that aligns with industry and business needs. We also meet with companies on a regular basis. From those conversations, we create, promote or enhance policies and programs that support business growth. New businesses want to move to a community that is vibrant and dynamic. Great education, supportive infrastructure and business-friendly legislation are part of making an attractive community. When you look at it from a broad, long-term perspective, it all makes sense.

We bring people together with a shared vision for a vibrant regional economy. Working on multiple fronts, the EDC creates pathways for collaboration between public and private sectors and supports environments that lead to job and wealth creation.

The synergies created by these efforts and shared vision create an extraordinary environment for work, learning and living. Our efforts help to develop, attract and retain a qualified workforce, while bringing in new business and taking existing businesses to new levels. We inspire entrepreneurs and equip influencers to successfully market our region to the world.

New To Town? We’re Throwing You A Party!

We’re throwing a party! So if you are new to the area (or kinda new), let us welcome you to Fargo Moorhead!

You can meet new friends and learn a little more about what makes Fargo-Moorhead such a wonderful place to live. We’ll have food, drinks and tattoos. Hosts will be on hand to answer questions or give you information on resources or things to do.

It’s all sponsored by us, the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation.

Moved here 6 days ago? Perfect! More like 6 years? We’d love to see you there!

May 16
6:00 – 8:30 pm
Sanctuary Event Center
670 4th Avenue North, Fargo ND

All are welcome (professionals, spouses, kids, students, new graduates)!

Get your tickets

Know someone who just moved here? Share this event with them!

Beyond Math, Giving Students A Glimpse Of What’s Possible

“I like your thought process. Can you show me on paper?” Reid Larson, a mechanical engineering student at NDSU, is one of eight college students spending several hours per week with second graders at Ed Clapp elementary in Fargo. The college students play games and do fun activities to help their second graders understand and master math concepts.

Organizing his groups as a “math congress” or “math club”, Larson said, gives students an opportunity to be excited to learn without being afraid to make mistakes. And he said it’s working.

“All the students have quickly improved and continue increasing their understanding through various games. At the same time, we have been repeatedly increasing their addition capabilities by looking at math equations in many different ways,” said Larson.

For some students, it’s about pushing even further beyond the second grade boundaries. For others, it’s helping them understand basic concepts to get them to grade level. While the extra attention is giving students more opportunities to grasp important math concepts and improve assessment scores, the benefits go beyond math skills.

For the second graders, the college students become mentors who are chasing their goals. This might be the first time the elementary students have even considered college, opening them up to possibilities they never imagined before. The interactions may also challenge a student’s beliefs – like seeing a female engineer.

For the college students, it’s a chance to spend ten weeks really digging into and sharing their passion. At times, the experience also challenges them to learn to teach math in an entirely new way.

The GFMEDC piloted the program last year partnering with NDSU to place two college students in one second grade classroom. Student scores improved across the board, some jumping significantly. This year, the program includes eight NDSU students covering all four second grade classrooms.

GFMEDC Adds New Board Members, Elects Officers

Five area professionals have joined the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC) board of directors. The board also has elected new officers for 2017.

New members Kevin Biffert, Jim Sweeney and Jim Buus began their terms January 1. Biffert is the President of Fargo Automation, Fargo; Sweeney is President of Fargo Jet Center, Fargo; and Buus is Vice President of Goldmark Commercial Real Estate, Fargo. The GFMEDC board also recently elected Paul Richard and Brent Tieken to the board. Richard is the Executive Vice President Sanford Health, Fargo Market and Tieken is the CEO of Sundog Interactive. Both began their term in late 2016.

New board officers are: Jeff Volk, President & CEO of Moore Engineering, Chair; Randy Gerhold, Fargo R&D Site Leader, Microsoft, Vice-chair; Judd Graham, Fargo Region CEO of Bremer Bank, Treasurer; Marshal Albright, President & CEO of Cass County Electric, Secretary; Tammy Miller CEO of Border States Electric Coop., Past chair.

The GFMEDC relies on guidance from its board to achieve its goals and lay the groundwork for the economic health of Cass County, N.D. and Clay County, Minn. The board is made up of 33 directors. It includes a nine-member executive committee; ten at-large members elected from investor businesses; representatives of the Fargo City Commission, West Fargo City Commission, Moorhead City Council, Cass County Commission and Clay County Commission; one development council representative; the superintendents of Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead public schools; and the presidents of Concordia College, Minnesota State University Moorhead and North Dakota State University. The presidents of MState and NDSCS are honorary board members. Board members can serve up to three terms.

The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC) is a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity. Using a comprehensive approach to economic development, the GFMEDC accelerates job and wealth creation in Cass County, ND and Clay County, Minn.

FM Welcome Party – Grab Your Ticket And Join Us November 1st!

We’re throwing a party! So if you are new to the area (or kinda new), join us!

We want to be the first ones to welcome you to Fargo-Moorhead! We’re so glad you moved here.

It’s a night where you can meet new friends and see what makes Fargo-Moorhead a great place to live. Grab a drink, enjoy some great food, and ask other new residents (and locals) why they like living here or any other question or thing that is confusing you. For example, where is “the lake” everyone goes to in the summer?

It’s all sponsored by us, the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. Yep, we’re way more fun than we sound!

Moved here 6 days ago? Perfect! More like 6 years? We’d love to see you there!

November 1st
6:00 – 8:30 pm
Sanctuary Event Center
670 4th Avenue North, Fargo ND

All are welcome (professionals, spouses, kids, students, new graduates)!

Get your tickets

Know someone who just moved here? Share this event with them!
We’re making it a pretty big deal; heck, you’re worth it!

Enhancing Math, Inspiring Dreams. Program Connects NDSU Engineering Students With Fargo Second Graders

Ed Clapp Pilot Project

This upcoming school year, the GFMEDC and NDSU will again partner to place eight engineering students at Fargo’s Ed Clapp Elementary. The engineering students will work with all second graders enhancing their understanding of math concepts doing fun activities and playing games.

The pilot program was started in 2015-2016 thanks to a collaboration among the GFMEDC, NDSU and Fargo Public Schools. Two engineering students spent ten weeks teaching a total of 20 students who ranged from level one to five in terms of math competency. The GFMEDC provided the college students’ stipends.

Along with inspiring the students to learn different ways to tackle math concepts (and hopefully to love math), the program aims to create pa115mediumthways to careers like engineering. The NDSU students act as role models, sharing their love of math with the kids and planting the seed in their minds that they can work hard and achieve their dreams. This program has the potential to reach more students getting them excited about learning math from role models who use it in their everyday lives.

And it worked! The school saw notable improvement in math understanding during the first-year pilot program.

We’re proud to partner to create programs like this because we know a strong economy relies on a solid pipeline of talent. And we want our students to see a world of possibilities!

Cool Fargo Moments, Long-Term, High-Touch Approach Generates Entrepreneurial Energy In FM

thank you

Lights, laughter and music spilled out of the open 2nd-floor windows of Ecce Art Gallery on a crisp April evening, bathing Broadway with gypsy jazz. It was the launch party for “The Abettor’s Letters,” a web-based interactive game for learning French created by Fargo startup Beach Interactive, and John Machacek was just leaving. He paused in the US Bank Plaza to look back and watch dozens of grooving people, their shadows dancing in front the “The Abettor’s Letters” projected onto an interior wall.

“I remember looking up at Ecce and they had the windows open. Here’s a band playing, there were people and lights, and you could see their video game up on a wall so everyone could see a live demo,” said Machacek, the EDC’s senior vice president, finance and entrepreneurial development.

“It was just one of those cool, downtown Fargo moments.” It also was one of hundreds of moments the EDC has helped make possible in the past few years. These moments are the result of long-range thinking and personal attention that support Fargo’s hopping entrepreneurial ecosystem. Machacek helped Beach Interactive co-founder Kyle Weik when Weik was creating Fargo Game Makers, a group for aspiring game developers. Weik and his partner, Sarah English, had a launch party vision but limited funds to make it happen. Machacek reached out to his contacts; $10 and $20 donations started coming in. The EDC threw in about $100 and Eide Bailly covered costs over what others pitched in.

The social media that resulted that evening gave Beach Interactive much needed exposure and boosted Fargo Moorhead’s image across the country.

Supporting entrepreneurism has been our focus at the EDC for a long time, but Jim Gartin wanted a more a hands-on, individualized approach when he became president in 2012.

He made Machacek his frontman. The philosophy we’ve put into practice is best summarized in a 2015 Kauffman Foundation report: “If local governments wish to encourage entrepreneurship, it requires that those officials connect to entrepreneurs at the individual level and to entrepreneurs’ networks at the local level, a lengthy and time-intensive process.”

In other words, it takes one-on-one attention from someone who cares about people and their ideas. If it’s happening in Fargo-Moorhead and has something to do with nurturing new ideas, chances are the GFMEDC has had a hand in it at some point. Probably at several points.

Our work has covered everything from hardware/software development to video game programming, entrepreneurship competition sponsorships to student scholarships, and Startup Weekends to networking events. We also are a strong supporter of Emerging Prairie and its initiatives like the Prairie Den and 1 Million Cups.

Some people can develop their ideas to the point where we help them access programs like Innovate ND, tax credits for creating jobs and employee training. But often what’s needed is time over a cup of coffee, a sympathetic ear or an open contact list.

You never know where a new introduction or conversation is going to lead, Machacek says.

So the man known as “Johnny Mach” in certain circles keeps his door, his ears and his mind open. Little by little, handshake by handshake, and cuppa joe by cuppa joe, the entrepreneurial culture in Fargo Moorhead deepens, and those “cool Fargo moments” keep coming.

This story is part of the GFMEDC Annual Report, written by Martin Fredricks, Fredricks Communications.