GFMEDC Annual Meeting Highlights Partnerships to Ignite our Economy

You could easily sum up the GFMEDC’s 2014 to partnerships that are “Igniting” (our annual report and meeting theme) economic activities. Our organization laid the foundation with plans and partnerships to evaluate our current situation as well to build upon synergies and create solutions to our largest challenges.L83A9189 Jim.Crowdshot

So let’s get into the nitty gritty.

First, our organization stepped back and hired Fourth Economy consulting firm to take a look at what’s currently happening in our regional economy as well as what our investors expect from the GFMEDC. What’s changed? What’s working? What can we build upon to keep this economic fire going?

After research, interviews, focus groups and surveys, we created the Cass Clay Strategic Plan. Now sitting on all our desks is a five-year roadmap focused on five priorities. The plan focuses on the following: talent attraction; higher education and STEM education; an advocacy agenda while communicating economic impact; leverage existing and emerging regional industry base for business retention and expansion and startups and finally, strategies to help foster the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. For the entire report, click here!

On to a workforce study. The GFMEDC has partnered with the Chamber, United Way of Cass Clay, FM Area Foundation and FM CVB (along with several sponsors) to begin a workforce study.

L83A9219 crowd shotIf you are wondering why we need a workforce study, here’s a quick snapshot. We consistently boast a very low unemployment rate, we have a large number of open jobs. Companies need to be able to hire adequate numbers (as well as qualified) of employees not only to get their current projects done but to take on more projects. In some cases, hiring adequate staff would actually lead to more growth.

The workforce study will be completed in June and will give us a plan to collectively tackle workforce challenges impeding growth.

The Valley Prosperity Partnership is a large regional initiative that brings together 26 leaders from across the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota. Six initiatives focus on actionable items to benefit the whole region from Wahpeton to Grand Forks and everything in between. The VPP has tackled water security, workforce and research so far and has already had an impact during the North Dakota legislative session.

Education that Works is an initiative we started two years ago focused on ways to support alignment of K-12 education and the workforce. How can we support partnerships and initiatives that lead to students who are better prepared for the workforce. The group is tackling three initiatives: accelerated professional development for teachers, working with higher education to prepare tomorrow’s educators differently and communicating 21st century skill developments with teachers, parents and the business community.

And at the same time, the GFMEDC is doing things, lots of things.

L83A0145Manufacturing tours expose high school students to the high tech world of manufacturing. Teachers in Industry turns teachers into students for four weeks each summer. Sector summits bring education and specific sectors together to enhance synergies and to uncover challenges to growth. Business Retention and Expansion meetings connect businesses to resources they need. Marketing efforts elevate the stories of the good things and great people here in the FM Metro, giving outside folks a glimpse of what it’s really like to live and work here. And that’s not all but we’re getting a little long winded so check out our website, www.smartmovefm.com for more!

Now get out there and tell folks why you love living and working in the metro. Fire up! :-)

Share your love of the FM Metro

We’re pretty sure you love the Fargo Moorhead Metro. We also believe you would recruit all the friends and family you could if you had the right tools.

The Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC needs your help recruiting more people to the metro. So we’ve decided to start creating tools to help you do just that.

The postcard… GFMEDC Postcard 5. take a pic_Page_1Your mission…take this postcard (already stamped for you) and send it to your friend, family member, favorite person who you know would be a great addition to the FM community. No commitment, just a nice friendly postcard that encourages them to consider us.

You can stop by the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC) at 51 Broadway Suite 500 to pick one up, or we will be handing them out at 1MCFAR. You can also call us 364-1900, and we’d be happy to drop them off at your work anywhere in the Fargo Moorhead metro. (If all goes well, we’ll place them at various locations around town for your convenience.)

So, you may be wondering why an economic development corporation cares about recruiting more people to the community.

From an economic development perspective, workforce (specifically, a lack of qualified workforce) is one of the greatest challenge this region faces. We know it’s a big challenge and critical to the success of local companies. We need more people to get the job done and support business growth. If we want to support stable and growing companies, this challenge has to be answered. The GFMEDC is doing what it can to recruit to the region, and we hope you’ll join us.

Check out our website for more information about who we are and what we do. www. smartmovefm.com

 

GFMEDC Releases Five-Year Strategic Plan

After identifying five priorities to support the area’s continued economic growth, the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC) has released a five-year strategic plan to address those opportunities.

The plan focuses on talent attraction; career awareness and workforce alignment; advocacy for economic development initiatives; business retention, expansion and attraction; and finally, support of a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Specific actions are listed for each of the five priorities, which will be addressed by the GFMEDC in partnership with local business leaders and educators.

“We are on the cusp of a true renaissance in the FM area. The outside world is starting to understand the power of our region, and our new five-year strategic plan will help guide us through these exciting times,” said Jim Gartin, President of the GFMEDC. “This new plan will be a working, living document. Each one of the five priorities will be driven by a committee, whose responsibility will be to ensure its implementation.”

The strategic planning process was initiated in the spring of 2014. The GFMEDC hired Fourth Economy, a Pittsburg-based consultant, to conduct stakeholder interviews, surveys and cluster analysis.

“Our firm frequently points to GFMEDC and the FM region as a model for public and private engagement,” said Steve McKnight, VP Community & Market Assessments, Fourth Economy Consulting. “Regions across the country can learn a lesson from Fargo-Moorhead – how to create a robust entrepreneurial community, address key challenges and leverage what works. And Fargo works!”

The five priorities:

  • Facilitate the attraction of talent to the region
  • Encourage the expansion and increase the awareness of technical training, higher education, STEM education and associated career opportunities
  • Advance an advocacy agenda and communicate economic impact
  • Leverage existing and emerging regional industry base and NDSU Research & Technology Park resources for business retention, expansion and startup
  • Continue the development of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

You can access the full report on our website: http://gfmedc.com/about/what-we-do/

West Fargo students present problem-solving tech ideas at Innovation Fair

Portable homeless shelters, a vibrating steering wheel to alert drivers who may be falling asleep, an app to support people experiencing cyber-bullying and an app-controlled robotic snow plow. These are just a few of the problem-solving ideas that local 7th graders presented at the Innovation Fair on NDSU’s campus Friday.

The West Fargo Liberty Middle School students presented their innovation and received real-time feedback during a Q&A with the audience. The questions and comments were intended to help the students improve their ideas before submitting them to the eCYBERMISSION competition, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math competition at state, regional and national levels.

Other solutions the STEM students devised included a net that skims garbage off of lakes and rivers, touchscreens at bus stops, an elliptical that generates energy to power devices, a way to generate electricity from city water flowing to homes and businesses and other assorted apps and websites.

Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations, Lisa Gulland-Nelson, hosted the fair.

“These students did such a great job. It’s fun to see their innovative solutions to real-world problems. Authentic learning experiences like these are what will prepare students for the future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a company or two come from this,” said Gulland-Nelson.

The Innovation Fair was held at the NDSU Memorial Union Century Theater and was sponsored by the NDSU College of Engineering.

1 Million Cups Fargo celebrates successful first year

1 Million Cups Fargo turned one year old on Wednesday, and organizers and attendees celebrated with a birthday party complete with cupcakes, coffee and conversation.

It was a packed house at The Stage at Island Park, with more than 360 people attending.

On stage were speakers James Burgum of Arthur Ventures, a local software venture capital firm, and Zak Fick from Help U, a service that sets up college students with small jobs or volunteer work in their communities.

(L to R) Zak Fick, James Burgum, Greg Tehven

There was even a rendition of the Happy Birthday song by Mark Lindquist and presents handed out to lucky attendees, donated from area businesses.

Since its launch in January 2014, 1 Million Cups Fargo has grown in attendance from about 40 people to an average draw of 200 people each week.

MSUM President Anne Blackhurst

A new twist was a special Internship Fair for college students. Employers with internships up for grabs gave their pitched to the packed house and were able to connect with interested students.

Minnesota State University Moorhead President Anne Blackhurst spoke about the importance of internships for students and outlined the efforts that the university has undertaken to connect students with opportunities.

“Over the last year, 1 Million Cups Fargo has been a driving force for entrepreneurs to share their ideas, build partnerships and find support. It’s generated hundreds of new friendships, launched new businesses and supported the decisions of a few businesses to choose Fargo as their home. I would have never guessed 1 Million Cups would have led to this level of impact, yet I’m grateful for what has happened and what is coming,” Greg Tehven, one of the program’s local volunteer organizers, said.

James Burgum of Arthur Ventures

The weekly event is a program aimed at local entrepreneurs to help educate, engage and connect them with each other and also with the community at large.

Past 1 Million Cups Fargo speakers

1 Million Cups — based on the notion that entrepreneurs network and discover solutions over a million cups of coffee — was founded by the Kauffman Foundation to help build startup communities on a grassroots level. Since launching in Kansas City in April 2012, 1 Million Cups is now in more than 65 cities across the nation.

Photos: A drone fly-in at Fargo’s 1 Million Cups

It was a sort of “Bring Your Own Drone Day” at 1 Million Cups Fargo this week. David Baeza from Vine Rangers showed off his drones and told the audience how he uses them to help farmers increase production. It was also a special installment because Nate Olson, 1 Million Cups co-founder presented about a new venture he is part of called Cremalab which is a user-experience design agency!

Check out more events from Emerging Prairie.

Here are a few photos:

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1 Million Cups Fargo: a tremendous 2015 on tap

1 Million Cups Fargo rang in the new year with another installment of the entrepreneurial event, continuing to build on the success of 2014. For the first week of 2015, it was Josh Christy’s turn to make a pitch. Christy works with Codelation, a software product company in Fargo, and talked with the group about his new venture, Booth.

Here are some photos from Christy’s pitch:

Click here for more information on 1 Million Cups.

Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC Adds New Board Members, Elects Officers

Three area professionals joined the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC) board of directors.

Two at-large directors:

Denise Kolpack, Blue Cross Blue Shield ND, Sr. VP Communications, Public Affairs and Strategy

Delton Steele, U.S. Bank, Regional President

One new agency directors:

Rick Steen, Cass County Commission

New members, Kolpack, Steele, Steen will begin their terms on January 1, 2015.

The board also elected and re-elected officers for 2015.

Board officers are:

 Board Chair: Tammy Miller, Border States Electric, CEO

 Chair-Elect: Jeffry Volk, Moore Engineering, President & CEO

 Treasurer: Randy Gerhold, Microsoft, Fargo R&D Site Leader

 Secretary: Judd Graham, Wells Fargo, Community Bank President

Guidance from the board helps the GFMEDC achieve its goals and lays 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 and Moorhead City Council; representatives of the 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. Board members can serve up to three terms. Each term is three years.
For a full list of board members, go to: http://gfmedc.com/about/board-of-directors/

Valley Prosperity Partnership poised to act on first strategic initiatives

In a report to stakeholders, the Valley Prosperity Partnership released three reports that identify action steps to support the first three of six initiatives: workforce attraction, development and retention; water security and management for the Valley and university research capacity and relevancy.

During the report to stakeholders, the VPP leadership team outlined the process and development of the strategic plan, results of the working groups and next steps for the VPP.

Immediately following the release of VPP’s report in May of 2014, three working groups came together to start putting strategy into action. The groups focused on ways the region could collectively have an impact. The groups put together recommendations that support each initiative including a legislative agenda.

Talent Attraction, Retention & Development:

The VPP will help coordinate regional talent attraction, development and retention initiatives to ensure the Valley can meet and sustain the current and future employment demands while helping to give North Dakota, Minnesota and the Valley a greater voice in national policy.

Expanding research capacity and relevancy:

The VPP will work to ensure that the Valley’s universities’ research and technology commercialization activities are fully funded, can attract quality faculty, and can support regional industry and their unique competencies.

Ensuring water security and management:

The VPP will collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to ensure the Valley’s water security infrastructure and management system are fully funded, constructed and operational, effectively protecting against future flooding while providing for a readily sustainable water supply.

The VPP has retained lobbyists with Vogel Law Firm and is moving forward with a legislative agenda that includes support for business and education partnership initiatives aimed at retaining youth and increasing in-migration to meet future employment needs; for increased investment in university research and growth of commercialization capacity; and funding for water projects that impact the Red River Valley.

“The priority areas we have identified impact our businesses, our employees, and our communities. We will not achieve these goals by duplicating programs or systems that already exist. We are focused on enhancing collaboration and bringing new partners together.” said Tammy Miller, committee co-chair and CEO of Border States Electric.

Made up of 27 leaders from up and down the Red River Valley, the VPP was formed to develop an action-oriented strategy and plan to collaborate on these issues that impact the long-term economic growth and sustainability of the Red River Valley.

Delore Zimmerman, Praxis Strategy Group CEO

“The VPP is a regional voice supporting the efforts laid out in the strategic plan. This is a historical and pivotal time for the Red River Valley. We are working toward common goals at local, state, and federal levels to help key programs evolve and increase funding support when necessary,” said Steve Burian, VPP co-chair and CEO of AE2S.

In May 2013, the VPP undertook an extensive outreach effort to gather input and collect background information.  Hundreds of interviews and focus groups with regional stakeholders along with hours of research culminated in the plan.

The strategic plan identified six key areas for action:

  • Workforce attraction, development and retention
  • Water security and management for the Valley
  • University research capacity and relevancy
  • Entrepreneurial activity and output
  • Infrastructure development and capital improvements
  • Perceptions of the Valley

The VPP will begin tackling the final three initiatives in May of 2015.

More information:
Grand Forks Herald: ‘Partnership on track to boosting valley prosperity’
The Forum of Fargo Moorhead: ‘Valley prosperity initiative makes strides in first year’
WDAY-TV: ‘VPP launches agenda in hopes of economic growth’

 

GFMEDC’s Mark Vaux earns prestigious Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) certification from International Economic Development Council

Mark Vaux, EVP Business Development for the Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC, recently earned the designation of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a national recognition that denotes a mastery of principal skills in economic development, professional attainment and a commitment to personal and professional growth. The CEcD exam is administered by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC)

The CecD recognizes qualified and dedicated practitioners in the economic development field and sets the standard of excellence within the profession. Candidates must pass a rigorous and comprehensive three-part, two-day examination, which tests a practitioner’s knowledge, proficiency and judgment in the key areas of economic development including business retention and expansion, marketing, finance, workforce development, community development, real estate planning, technology-led economic development and management.

Congrats, Mark!