Emerging Prairie announced its annual 1 Million Thanks Awards recognizing individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact in the startup, innovation, and technology communities. This year’s award recipients include:


Ron OffuttLifetime Impact Award. This award is given to individuals whose impact has left a mark on North Dakota and beyond, inspiring others and shaping a lasting legacy.

Ron Offutt is one of North Dakota’s and the nation’s premiere agribusiness leaders and philanthropists. As owner of the largest network of John Deere construction and agricultural equipment dealerships in the U.S and founder and chairman emeritus of the R. D. Offutt Company and RDO Equipment Company, Ron has brought jobs and opportunities to this region, especially within the agriculture industry.



USDA ARSGrand Farm Innovation Champion. This award is given to an organization that drives immense agricultural innovation in our region.

The Agricultural Research Service is the principal in-house research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture and has research centers in Fargo, Grand Forks, and Mandan. ARS is one of four agencies in USDA’s Research, Education and Economics mission area.




FARMS Team Grand Farm Innovation Project of the Year. This award is given to a project that has embraced the advancement of innovations in agriculture technologies. 

The vision of FARMS is to create a global AgTech engine characterized by a flourishing ecosystem where new knowledge is co-designed into new technologies, services, and startups to address stressors impacting food insecurity and to establish equitable agricultural opportunity. FARMS is composed of a core group of partners including North Dakota State University, the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber Foundation, the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, the North Dakota Tribal College System, and Grand Farm



Cota SystemsTechnology Community Builder. This award is given to an organization that has contributed in meaningful ways to support the technology community in our region.

Cota empowers small independent trucking companies with free cutting-edge logistics technology that was once only available to larger carriers, disrupting the TMS landscape and leveling the playing field. Cota has built a meaningful footprint in our community becoming a technology workforce leader in our ecosystem.



Kara Kalbus – Technology Community Champion. This award is given to an individual that has shown immense commitment to upskilling the technology workforce of North Dakota.

Kara Kalbus’s passion is mentorship and helping others discover their personal paths and achieve their aspirations. She believes in the power of guidance and knowledge-sharing to shape the future of technology and our community. Kara currently serves as the Director in the newly formed Transformation Office at Eide Bailly and has been a mentor with Emerging Digital Academy for the past two cohorts. Kara is dedicated to empowering the next generation of tech leaders.



50 South Capital Startup Community Builder Award. This award is given to organizations that contribute to the ecosystem in a meaningful way, allowing us to energize and elevate our startup community.

50 South Capital is a global alternatives firm that provides unique, differentiated access to the world’s best private equity and hedge fund investment opportunities. They have made substantial efforts in our region providing increased access to capital and growth resources for startups.



State Representative Mike Nathe – Startup Community Champion. This award is given to an individual that has demonstrated significant growth and success in making an impact within and beyond our region.

Rep. Nathe has been an advocate for the startup and capital ecosystems in North Dakota, working to ensure entrepreneurs have the opportunities available to succeed and grow.




You’re invited to celebrate these go-givers with us! Purchase your 1 Million Thanks tickets here. 🥂

When: February 1st, 2024

Time: 7-10 PM

Where: Fargo Air Museum

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Madi Simpson

Madi is a lifelong creative and lover of the Fargo-Moorhead area. She's gained real-life experience in the worlds of entrepreneurship and marketing by starting her own sustainable upcycled clothing business in 2018. In her free time, Madi can be found hanging out with her mini poodle Georgie, baking delicious pastries, tending to her jungle of houseplants, or enjoying an iced vanilla latte from one of the downtown cafes.