Educating and changing perceptions of the manufacturing industry: 160 high school students toured four local companies for manufacturing day

Emile Dargbeh’s enthusiasm was infectious.

The Fargo Davies High School senior spoke excitedly about his prospects in finding a career in manufacturing, something he would now “definitely like to have.”

Dargbeh was one of about 170 students from Fargo Moorhead who attended the third Manufacturing Day on October 3rd, hosted by the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation.

Coinciding with National Manufacturing Day, GFMEDC aimed to have the event educate students of the many valuable careers available in their own backyard. Through the morning, the students toured four local manufacturing businesses, getting valuable hands-on experience.

Experiences like the manufacturing tours are helping influence students’ choices for their education after graduating high school and life-long careers.

“Because I’m getting more and more experience in automotive and things like that, more mechanical work, I’m leaning over to that side right now. I think a technical college like [MState] would be the best option for me right now,” Dargbeh said.

Students from Moorhead, Fargo and West Fargo visited Aggregate Industries, the Fargo Jet Center/Weather Modification, John Deere Electronic Solutions and Prinsco. Students like Dargbeh found the hands-on learning to be valuable.

“They show us actual stuff, like over in the automotive lab. We saw the actual trucks over there, which was pretty good because sometimes it’s just like prototypes that you see. You don’t really get to work on the real thing, the real deal and here it’s all about the real deal,” Dargbeh said. “Definitely one of the most exciting, entertaining, and most educational experiences I’ve had in a very long time.”

At Aggregate Industries, students visited an open gravel pit east of Moorhead, with a huge scooping dredge that plunged about 100 feet down into a large pond, gathering material that the company turns into asphalt and concrete.

Before Manufacturing Day, student Brian Phillips had a pretty good idea of what he wanted to do after high school. He said one of his teachers piqued his interest in industrial technology and the experiences he had visiting the local businesses gave him an even bigger perspective.

“We saw a whole wide view of the different varieties of jobs there are,” Phillips said.

Fargo South High School junior Aleigha Abner wants to find a career in auto or diesel mechanics and MState may be the school for her. After the day of learning, Abner said she would recommend the manufacturing tours to her fellow students.

“I would tell them to go because you’ll learn much more than what you learn in class,” Abner said.

At Prinsco in Fargo, the students toured the whole facility where recycled plastics like milk jugs and detergent containers are turned into corrugated plastic piping used in agriculture. They saw the process from the beginning, with small pieces of plastic making its way through machinery, becoming a useful product that can increase yields for our local farmers.

“I think it’s a reality check, really,” Prinsco plant manager Marc Valenzuela said. “Oftentimes we see products on the market and have no idea how they’re made and all the work that goes into them.”

Valenzuela thought Manufacturing Day was a perfect chance to expand students’ horizons.

“I try to share that passion with the kids. I see them when they come in; they’re not that interested, they’re wondering why they’re here. And as we finish the tour, they’re attentive, they’re interested, they’re engaged, and that’s a win-win for me,” Valenzuela said.

Students also toured the Fargo Jet Center, a full-service fixed-base operator where you might run into someone famous as they step off of their private jet. Students were able to see a variety of planes up close and even got to take the driver’s seat of a state-of-the-art airport firefighting truck.

At John Deere Electronic Solutions, the tour showcased industry-leading electronics components used in much of the agricultural equipment on fields around the world.

Manufacturing Day 2014 was sponsored by the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Minn-Dak Manufacturers Association and Dakota MEP.



Valley Prosperity Partnership released action-oriented report to shape Valley’s economic future

The VPP released a 62-page report that lays out six action oriented goals focused on sustained economic growth for the entire Red River Valley in both North Dakota and Minnesota.

  1. Workforce attraction, development and retention
  2. Water security for the Valley
  3. Research capacity and relevancy
  4. Entrepreneurial activity and output
  5. Infrastructure investment
  6. Improving outside perceptions of the Valley

The group will focus initially on the first three goals related to workforce, water security and research. Working groups have been formed to move the action items forward.

“Our region needs talented people, great places, sensible public policies, good ideas, and a diverse economic base. The Valley is in a position of prosperity. This action plan isn’t a response to an economic downturn; rather, it is one that seeks to build on our strengths.” said Tammy Miller, committee co-chair and CEO of Border States Electric.

Check out the Full Report

Fargo – no longer defined by a movie or TV show

No matter what you think of the movie “Fargo” or the new FX television series “Fargo”, there’s no denying that the two have contributed to quite a bit of name recognition for our wonderful community (what kind of recognition may be up for debate).

At the same time, a lot of people are singing our praises. Check out these (most recent) articles:

“No joke: It couldn’t get much better in Fargo” Joel Kotkin, Forbes. With the launch of the FX show Fargo, Kotkin focuses on what Fargo is really like including the rapid growth our region is experiencing.

What Fargo can teach you about community  Ben Hanten, Forbes. After visiting Fargo, Hanten focuses on five things he believes set Fargo apart as community builders create a startup culture.

The 6 best things to do in Fargo (not inspired by the movie) Downtown Traveler

7 life lessons we could all learn from the Midwest  Rob Fee, Thought Catalog.

Fargo ranked #10 on “10 Best Cities to Find a Job” by My Life.

An excerpt from Scott Meyer’s 9 Clouds blog regarding a recent Fargo visit by the entrepreneurial communities of Aberdeen and Brookings:
“We took a walking tour [of Fargo] and everyone our host introduced us to stopped to share their projects and ideas with us. After three hours we headed down the road, but everyone in the car was on the Fargo bandwagon. The fact that people throughout the community gave us their time meant that we felt grateful. We left feeling like a part of the community.”

Like Meyers, the folks who visit are impressed by our community full of creative, entrepreneurial, smart and generous people. It’s time to start believing them!

GFMEDC’s Strong Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) Program Builds Relationships, Solves Challenges

The Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC manages a robust Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) program to better understand the local business climate. Visits with leaders at regional primary-sector companies allow GFMEDC staff to communicate available programs and learn about each company’s activities and potential challenges. Mark Vaux, executive vice president business development, meets with about 15 businesses in Cass and Clay County each month.

One of the more enjoyable parts about doing these visits is meeting new companies and people.  The diversity is really interesting as we can visit with a software developer one minute and an agricultural manufacturer the next,” Vaux said.

Kicking off March, Vaux met with leaders at two companies. The first was with Jeff Davis, manager, Identity Ag in Casselton. Identity Ag cleans, packages, and ships non-GMO soybeans and wheat. They are also a certified organic processor for soybeans and wheat with around 95% of all products shipping internationally.

The meeting focused on ways to support the company’s growth including hiring new employees and a possible new purchase of equipment. The GFMEDC can assist with both through various programs and staff support. Identity Ag has eight employees and is looking to add about three more.

Vaux also met with Tom Boyle, President of D & M Industries located in Moorhead. D&M specializes in doors, millwork, windows, cabinets, frames and hardware for many types of building projects nationwide. These projects include residential housing, hotel-motel, assisted living and multi-family housing. 

As a Moorhead business, Boyle emphasized the importance of engaging the Moorhead community and Minnesota as a whole. D & M Industries employs 111, and the company is seeking qualified new employees.

The BRE visits have confirmed that workforce continues to be a challenge for many regional companies.  

“Workforce needs continue to be the largest issue we face as a community for sustainable growth, both in terms of recruiting new talent to our region and providing training for the existing workforce,” Vaux said.

Through BRE visits, the GFMEDC continues to build relationships with regional companies connecting them with resources and gaining valuable insight into the regional economic landscape.


Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC Launches Faith in Fargo Moorhead Web Page

The Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC has launched a Faith in Fargo Moorhead website page highlighting the various religious and faith-based options in the Fargo Moorhead Metro.

The webpage was built in response to a need expressed by local investor companies and partner organizations.

The information targets people who are new to the area or considering locating here. The Faith in Fargo Moorhead page is unique to the area and benefits people trying to connect and integrate into the community.

Along with the many Christian denominations, Fargo Moorhead is home to a Baha’i community, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan and Free Thinkers.

“As president of Concordia College, I am delighted by the lively and welcoming spirit revealed in the “Faith in Fargo-Moorhead” page of the GFMEDC. Our community, our colleges and universities, our places of business—all are strengthened by the diversity of faith commitments that define our friends and neighbors and that call us to work for the common good,” William J. Craft, President Concordia College.

The GFMEDC partnered with David Meyers, PhD. Founder & Executive Director of Center for Interfaith Projects, and Jacqueline Bussie, PhD. Director, Forum on Faith and Life and Concordia College Associate Professor, to gather the information provided on the webpage.

1 Million Cups connects entrepreneurs and community

“Running a startup is terrifying and exhilarating.”

Blaine Booher, an entrepreneur featured at a recent 1 Million Cups event, told a packed room about his experiences building and running a startup company called Clifton Labs. Clifton Labs provides computer engineering and software development. The company builds software and hardware solutions.

Communication, taking ownership of projects and remembering that businesses are run by human beings are three themes Booher discussed as a core in his business. “I want to build a company that I want to work for.”

The weekly 1 Million Cups event gives entrepreneurs, like Booher, an avenue to gain community involvement and support. The events also benefit audience members who can gain insight into some of the challenges and benefits of starting a business.

Booher, who recently moved to Fargo from Cincinnati, praised the Fargo Moorhead community as one that has really welcomed his family. Clifton Labs is based in Cincinnati, but Booher is looking to expand his company into the Fargo market. “The community is amazing. Everyone seems so honest, and it’s an embracing community.” Booher said.

1 Million Cups happens every Wednesday morning at 9:00 and is free and open to the public. There’s free coffee thanks to Danielson Legal. For more information or to sign up, go to Fargo is one of 26 locations across the country hosting the weekly event.


It’s a fun week for entrepreneurs in Fargo Moorhead

1Million Cups and Startup Weekend, Women
Two entrepreneurial events this week start out the year (with more great events coming)!

1Million Cups

Every Wednesday morning from January 22nd – February 26 at 9 a.m.

Plains Art Museum
704 1st Avenue N, Fargo
January 22nd Presenter: Dave Batcheller, Appareo Systems

1 Million Cups engages entrepreneurs around the world.   Presenters (an entrepreneur) prepare a six-minute educational presentation and engage in 20 minutes of feedback and questions after they present.  Entrepreneurs gain insight into possible ways they can improve their businesses, gather real-time feedback, connect with a community that truly cares about their progress and walk away feeling like they have advanced their business. The audience also learns a great deal from the presentations. Whether this is through passively listening or deeply engaging with the entrepreneurs, there is much to learn every week from these dynamic and diverse communities.

Sign up at:
Twitter: @1MillionCupsFar

Startup Weekend, Women

January 24 – 26

Startup Weekend is a 54 -hour event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups.

The Sunday night event is open to the public and includes presentations and celebration at 6pm at Dakota Medical Foundation.

For more information on attending the Sunday event or participating in Startup Weekend, please go to

2014 Fargo Moorhead Magazine, hot off the press!

The 2014 issue of Livability Fargo, ND - Moorhead, MN is out and now available online!


It highlights health, education, local flavor, and arts and culture in Greater Fargo Moorhead, providing you with a powerful tool to tell others about our community.

We encourage you to share the online magazine with anyone considering relocating to Fargo – Moorhead or to any businesses who might be able to use it in their recruiting efforts.

We all have a stake in promoting what’s wonderful about Fargo – Moorhead, and this magazine provides a perfect way to do just that.

  •  To share the online digital version of Livability Fargo, ND - Moorhead, MN on      your site, in newsletters, announcements, or through social media, grab the code here. You can also go to and search Fargo Moorhead. Select the 2014 edition and grab the code.

It’s the unique story of our community. Read it. Enjoy it. Share it.

Check out the full publication.


Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC Coordinates Speakers Bureau

Marketing, technology, healthcare, you name it, more than 50 area professionals are ready to speak on their expertise.
This past year, the GFMEDC learned that a need exists in our community for leaders to speak to our local students. Our organization is helping teachers and professors connect with thought leaders to engage students, spark ideas and generate conversations.
The GFMEDC has organized a speakers bureau specifically to connect local professionals with K-12 and higher education institutions to speak to students.
The GFMEDC’s work with both industry and education puts the organization in an excellent position to become a liaison between the two. The GFMEDC has set up about eight events so  far. Our organization facilitates the process connecting the right volunteer speaker to a local school.
A great big thank you to our volunteer speakers!

President’s Report: A great economy, plenty of smart partner organizations and a wealth of opportunities to grow our regional economy. The EDC is thankful!

The Holidays are upon us, and we have so much to be thankful for here in the Fargo Moorhead area! We have an incredible robust economy, a committed and dedicated workforce, an outstanding education system, fantastic arts and entertainment venues and social and non-profit organizations that are second to none!

Every day can be so diverse from working hand in hand with our primary-sector leaders to ensure their continued growth, to sitting down with a start-up entrepreneur and discussing how they can broaden their marketing outreach. We work with education and other non-profit partners to address community needs regarding workforce issues. We also focus on broad community needs like internet/fiber connectivity with government officials and businesses.

The one thing that is always on our agenda, day after day, is new business attraction opportunities to strengthen our existing base. Advanced manufacturing, embedded technology, software development and life sciences are all targeted industry clusters that we believe enhance our growing market and can be supported by our highly-educated and trained workforce.

The Greater Fargo Moorhead community has a great deal to be thankful for, and we at the EDC are thankful to be a part of this dynamic marketplace!

Happy Thanksgiving!