Catalyst for Growth: The Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation

The Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation is a catalyst for economic growth in the region. Its mission is to spread the unexpected and intriguing factors of Fargo-Moorhead to residents and businesses.  With this mission, the GFMEDC has established strategic initiatives in business retention and expansion, entrepreneurial support and development, workforce attraction and development, and marketing. “We bring businesses, education, and stakeholders together to help spur economic growth. We’re investing time, money and resources into our region’s future,” Jim Gartin, President.

Business Retention, Expansion, and Recruitment

Like many traditional Economic Development agencies, the GFMEDC exists to help businesses expand and new businesses relocate to Fargo. “We provide tools that enhance the growth opportunities for regional companies.  If a company is expanding by adding new employees, new equipment, replacing equipment or adding space, we connect them to a program to assist them with the growth.  If a company is looking to relocate to the region, we connect them to the available programs and tools to assist in that process,” Mark Vaux, Executive Vice President, Business Development.

The GFMEDC researches and compiles information to inform and support local business. These assist with potential growth opportunities and offer tools for recruiting companies and people to the region. A workforce study, community profile, and printed materials (i.e. The FM toolkit) are distributed to local businesses to promote stats and quality of life information about Fargo-Moorhead. By gathering this data, the GFMEDC can answer questions concerning the cost of living, economic indicators, and the current trends in state and regional initiatives. The GFMEDC is an advocate for new businesses considering Fargo as a potential home as well as a catalyst for existing businesses to expand.

Entrepreneurial Support and Development

Along with the business expansion initiative, the GFMEDC has an initiative for those that are taking the risk to start a business in the region. The GFMEDC partners with Emerging Prairie, Girl Develop It Fargo, CO.STARTERS, the local college entrepreneurial programs, and many other entrepreneurial-based businesses and endeavors in Fargo-Moorhead.  John Mahacheck is the face of the entrepreneurial initiative for the GFMEDC and acts as a resource to the start-up community. “Connections to people, programs, and resources are important factors to the success of entrepreneurs.  We aim to be a visible, approachable, and effectively resourceful to the many people in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said John Mahacheck, Senior Vice President, Finance and Entrepreneurial Development.

Workforce Attraction, Retention, and Development

Education is the primary emphasis of the workforce initiative for the GFMEDC. During the year, this initiative includes education summits, industry-specific tours for students, teacher learning experiences, and engineering lessons for elementary students. Partnerships with local higher-education institutions and local businesses make this an effective tool for workforce attraction, retention, and development in Fargo-Moorhead. “Workforce has long been a challenge for the Fargo Moorhead metro. But it is also an opportunity for us to work collaboratively with education and industry to support recruitment and development efforts by creating unique solutions to the metro’s talent shortage. We are also helping build the talent pipeline by impacting hundreds of students and teachers through our initiatives,” explained Tifanie Gelinske, Vice President, Workforce Development.

Marketing

The marketing initiative for the GFMEDC includes professionally printed materials and videos, social media ambassadors, and creative events that display the benefits of Fargo-Moorhead. “The unexpected video is my favorite because it effectively compares misconceptions to some of the realities of our community. It shows what a unique and beautiful place we live in,” explained Lisa Gulland-Nelson, Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations.

The ambassador program has over 200 people who choose to share the content of the GFMEDC through different social media channels. Along with printed and social media, the GFMEDC chooses to celebrate the newcomers to the region by offering welcome parties. “It provides an easy and effective way for people to share the cool articles focused on our region. And we are working on some exciting changes to take it to the next level. Stay tuned,” explained Gulland-Nelson.

Moving into the future, the GFMEDC will continue to be a catalyst for the economic growth of the region because of their strategic process of finding solutions. As a partner of Emerging Prairie and other start-up oriented businesses, the GFMEDC is a vital component of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Brent McNeal