1 Million Thanks is an awards celebration honoring individuals and organizations who have made a significant impact in the startup, innovation, and technology communities in our region.


The door to the Fargo Air Museum swings open, and a gust of icy air blows in.

The guests rush through the door, shivering. After they shed their coats, they walk through a wreathed arch into a room where the very air seems to sparkle with the magic of possibility.

The lights hanging from the ceiling cast a purple glow on the nearly 400 people standing below amidst the laughter, tunes from a guitar soloist, and a champagne toast to end the night.

Founders, students, event staff, and inspired onlookers mingle in the space created by Emerging Prairie to bring the community together for their annual 1 Million Thanks event.


Throwing the Party of a Decade

Emerging Prairie has existed for the last ten years to energize the community and celebrate others who make our frosty tundra a warm and inspiring place to live. This year, on Thursday, January 26th, they hosted 1 Million Thanks, an annual event that connects and recognizes the movers and shakers of the North Dakota and Minnesota regions.


Uniting the Great Minds of Our Community

The Experience Team at Emerging Prairie created an event just as incredible as the people they invited. Before the event, three dinners were hosted. Guests made their way to the Fargo Air Museum where they munched on blue cheese-covered ice cream, Jellyfish head Ceviche, and hanging charcuterie balls, among other exotic appetizers.

The NDSU marching band, Red River Dance and Performing Company, and guitarist Steve Stine performed during the celebration and brought music and life to the inspiring night.


Being a Part of Something Great

Emerging Prairie brought together founders, innovators, partners, community leaders, and students at 1 Million Thanks. This year, Emerging Prairie is also celebrating their 10-year anniversary. They released their 2023 annual report to showcase the exciting ways they have helped the community grow in the past year.



Recognizing the Movers and Shakers of the Region

Beyond the spectacle of the lights, food, and music, the event celebrated seven leaders and startups that have made a significant impact in the startup, innovation, and technology communities. The award winners included Gary Tharaldson, the North Dakota Small Business Development Centers (ND SBDC), Jessie Azure, the KWS Group, Ron Holiday, Jase Kraft, and Perficient. These companies and individuals used creative thinking to build solutions for problems they saw in their communities, and they received awards throughout the night to recognize their innovation.


After the founders and startups received their awards and recognition, the night ended with a champagne toast. Guests left feeling inspired, like they had just attended a giant family reunion of great innovators with full stomachs and full hearts, and looking for ways to keep chasing moments like these.




Empowering Relentless Creativity in Our Community

By creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, innovators, and technologists to grow, Emerging Prairie also facilitates reasons to celebrate.

Big things happen when a team of energetic, passionate, outside-the-box thinkers comes together to throw a party for the people who ignite growth for the state of North Dakota and the surrounding regions.

Want to chase this feeling? Stay tuned for our next event and be a part of energizing your community.


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Kennedy Fields

Kennedy is a Minneapolis native who came north to NDSU in 2020, where she double majored in English and International Studies with a certificate in Professional Writing. While at NDSU, she traveled to eight countries and was co-president of the Entrepreneurship Club, and today, she is passionate about contributing to the contagious environment of innovation and connection that Emerging Prairie fosters. When she's not reading or drinking coffee, you can find her cross country skiing, planning game nights, learning to make new foods, and dreaming up her next travel destination.