Reflections on a first year at the Greater FM EDC

My first year as the Chief Business Development Officer for the Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC seemed to fly by. I believe one factor has been the sheer volume of activity conducted by the GFMEDC team over the year (and continuing on a daily basis). As many of us know, being busy has a way of seemingly accelerating the passage of time.

The level of activity can be evidenced by several simple metrics from 2019:

  • 95 companies visited or surveyed
  • 28 company projects completed
  • 83 successful assists to companies
  • 10 proposals submitted for large scale projects

What is not as easy to measure are some of the other activities that contribute to this work in a much less quantifiable way. That includes 2019 efforts which won’t be realized until 2020, 2021 and beyond. While always working to follow our plan of work to solve current challenges and support the growth and expansion of the primary-sector companies, we are also looking long term for ways to enhance opportunities and improve the condition of the clients we serve.   

  • Hosted or partnered on multiple industry and topical events
    • 2 Opportunity Zone Forums
    • 2 FM Welcome Parties
    • Defense Alliance meetings
    • Drone Focus Conference
    • Cultivate Conference
  • Hosted several new companies interested in our market from a variety of industry sectors
  • Supported United Way & MAT Bus Service to the deliver metro bus service for the first time since the 1990’s to the industrial park to serve over 19,000 workers
  • Developed and incorporated new technology-based tools into our workflow
    • BRE (Business Retention & Expansion) online survey tool
    • Community Partners Portal – cross community project management tool
    • Location One Information Service (LOIS) – GIS property and site location tool
  • Began development of Regional Document Ready (Shovel Ready) Site program
  • Serve on the boards and advisory committees of several emerging technology industry groups
    • Serve on board of Great Plains Chapter of AUVSI (Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International)
    • Serve on Advisory Committee of the Center for Digital Agriculture and Big Data at NDSU
    • Serve on Advisory Board of the Research Institute for Autonomous Systems (RIAS)

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I hope it gives you some idea of the diversity of our work and activities.

One of my roles is to listen and try to understand the needs of our established primary-sector companies. We do this primarily through regular BRE visits. These visits serve a number of purposes, foremost is to to support a company’s growth and expansion by helping to identify and connect them to corresponding resources and opportunities.

A secondary function of these visits is to gauge the pulse of our primary-sector business community as a whole. We always ask: “What are the community’s strengths as a place to do business”. In 2019 that “people” and “collaboration” emerged as overwhelming themes during these visits. Human capital is often the hardest to produce, and we should not undervalue the fact that we are rich in human capital allowing us to continue to be a thriving economic engine of innovation and productivity.

One of the things that surprised me during my first year was the number of businesses that I was not familiar with by name that are operating or headquartered in the community and delivering products to a national and global market. I knew we had impressive companies here like Microsoft, Bobcat, Appareo, John Deere, Marvin, Amity, etc., but I did not fully realize how many other companies whose names are less recognizable yet make equally significant contributions to our regional economy.

I am truly blessed to work with such a talented group of colleagues, for an amazing organization that does truly impactful work, in a community that is moving at the speed of light when it comes to innovating, building businesses and supporting one another.

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