Partnerships Drive Regional Growth

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Partnerships Drive Regional Growth

Partnerships Matter

The work we do relies on effective partnerships. Collaborations and connections are woven into each project and every measure of support we provide. From big collaborations like Fueling Our Future to smaller, lesser-known meetings of the minds.  

For example, we are working to gather researchers from area organizations to review, understand and take advantage of our various research capabilities.  

Whether our organization is working with a local government entity, a state department or partner organizations, every connection, conversation or collaboration aims to support the growth of our regional economy. 

Fueling Our Future is Focused on Large-Scale Regional Solutions   

Fueling Our Future (FOF) is a joint venture between the GFMEDC and the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce that provides a platform for convening regional leaders to identify, understand, discuss and invest in macro-economic and community-based initiatives that will have lasting regional impacts. Within three categories: people, place and prosperity, FOF focuses on big rock issues that affect and are important to the growth of the region and that cannot be done by one organization alone. A few of the bigger initiatives are: Document Ready Site Program, support of Career Academies, Ignite workforce development program and a recent leadership retreat. 

Document Ready Site Program 

Led by the Greater FM EDC and funded by Fueling Our Future along with each location, two regional sites are being marketed as Document-Ready Sites, sometimes referred to as shovel-ready or certified-ready sites.  

The EDC has worked with multiple partners over the last two years to build the program and qualify sites in Moorhead and Fargo as certified-ready which means that a lot of the pre-work, identification and location of utilities, and technical testing on the properties is done. For example, to be certified, a site has typically completed some of the technical work such as soil surveys, environmental assessments, wetlands mapping or endangered species assessment. The more work done, the higher the certification: silver, gold or platinum.
More on Document Ready Program 

Career Academies 

To “deliver workforce training and education that is more responsive to changing employer and student needs.” 

Career Workforce Academies, one in Cass County and one in Moorhead, continue to be a FOF priority due to their alignment with efforts to solve some of our area’s workforce issues. Early on, FOF dedicated resources to the “Yes for Moorhead” volunteer support group to help get the 2019 Bond Referendum passed as it included plans for a Moorhead Career Academy. FOF continues open lines of communication with Moorhead Public Schools on progress and academic programs.

Regarding the Cass County Career Innovation Center, FOF messaged the importance of the initiative to local government bodies as they considered public support. FOF has dedicated resources to its success and continued to have conversations to move the project to the finish line. Both of these academies will serve as long-term solutions, helping to alleviate our regional workforce shortage. 

Leadership Retreat 

FOF assembled the region’s leaders to reassess the region’s opportunities and challenges and come away with three priority goals. Those three areas include:  

  • The challenge of finding and attracting workers across all industry sectors, and the challenge of skill development and up-skilling
  • The importance of branding in any successful workforce attraction strategy
  • The concern that escalating housing prices and limited supply of affordable day care would affect the success of a workforce plan to attract talent 

Since the retreat, FOF has acted in all three priority areas by:

  • Moving forward with a strategic talent plan for the region
  • In partnership with the CVB, directed a social media campaign and marketing messages at the Minneapolis market to attract workforce
  • Messaged the need to local governments to partner to conduct the region’s first comprehensive housing study, which is underway


Led by the Chamber, Ignite FMWF is designed to be a comprehensive, streamlined and systematic approach to addressing our regional workforce and talent needs. The initiative will be a fully integrated workforce system of awareness, exploration, training and connection between employers and the current and future workforce in our region. As a public-private partnership initiative, Ignite will further career exploration and awareness initiatives, drive business connection and develop our current and future talent pipeline as we build Fargo Moorhead West Fargo metro’s robust workforce.
Ignite Website 

Emerging Digital Academy

Continuing the importance of workforce development, FOF is also a funder of Emerging Digital Academy, which is an initiative of Emerging Prairie that provides continuing education and new career opportunities for individuals interested in computer programming.
Emerging Digital Academy

Valley Prosperity Partnership (VPP) 

The VPP was launched in 2012 to advance a shared vision for high value and sustained economic growth for all Red River Valley residents. The VPP is a membership organization led by the GFMEDC and the Grand Forks Regional EDC and the region’s top business and higher education leaders. The VPP works to advance strategic economic development opportunities for the Red River Valley region of North Dakota and Minnesota and for the entire State of North Dakota.

The Valley Prosperity Partnership’s advocacy efforts have focused on several priorities for the Red River Valley, which often have statewide implications for all North Dakotans and the western regions of Minnesota. The VPP is focused on legislative changes related to university research, water security and workforce.

Water Security

  • The Red River Water Supply Project – to provide a supplemental water option Central North Dakota and the Red River Valley that mitigates against drought conditions that would cause costly water shortages and fosters economic development by meeting municipal, industrial, and rural water demands
  • The FM Diversion – to provide flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead metro

Career Ed-Tech Centers

  • Funding for career education tech centers across North Dakota – to train young people for North Dakota’s growing industry sectors, including the NDSCS Career Innovation Center in Fargo and the career and technical education center in Grand Forks

University Research

  • Funding for research at UND, NDSU, and North Dakota’s nine other public universities – in collaboration with technology and business innovators, to compete for federal and corporate research dollars and proactively build expertise and capacity in high potential research clusters.

Business-friendly Legislation and Investment

  • Supporting programs like LIFT and the North Dakota Growth Fund, – for the development and growth of emerging technology sectors including advanced manufacturing and materials, autonomous, unmanned, embedded systems, software, robotics, energy and agriculture technology.  The VPP was an early supporter and advocate of Insurance Commissioner Godfread’s efforts to deploy funds from the North Dakota State Investment Board to make these investments in technology companies with exciting ideas and high potential.

“The Valley Prosperity Partnership is a tremendously valuable organization.  I am proud of the collaboration between the Grand Forks Region EDC and Greater Fargo-Moorhead EDC.  The VPP has made a very positive impact on public policy related to infrastructure, workforce development and university research that will drive economic growth of the Red River Valley and State of North Dakota.”

Keith Lund, President & CEO
Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation.

Emerging Prairie (EP) 

The GFMEDC has supported and partnered with Emerging Prairie since its inception. Emerging Prairie’s mission of connecting and celebrating the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem aligns well with the GFMEDC’s macro-level work to nurture a strong, collaborative ecosystem and micro-level work of providing one-on-one support to our entrepreneurs. This synergy positively influences the shape and success of our regional ecosystem. 

Grand Farm 

The partnership with Emerging Prairie started with an overall support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s expanded into collaborative efforts with their Grand Farm initiative. The GFMEDC connects with the Grand Farm team on a nearly daily basis as we work together on projects, most often associated with supporting potential business development opportunities.  

This partnership has supported a very successful year in terms of companies hosted, leads generated and new businesses recruited. We are pleased to announce that in 2021 our work with Grand Farm generated the following results:

  • 16 companies hosted
  • 20 leads generated
  • 4 new companies recruited (Trilogy Networks, Soiltech Wireless, Cloud Agronomics, Persistence Data Mining)

The GFMEDC and Grand Farm continue to follow up with leads in the pipeline and are ramping up for another busy year in 2022.

This past year, Grand Farm began the process of finding a permanent home in Cass County for the development of its business and education platform and called on the GFMEDC to assist in this site selection process. We were happy to provide guidance and are very excited for this announcement in 2022.
More on Grand Farm

Higher Education

The greater FM region is blessed to have one of the nation’s most unique and long-lasting collaborations in higher education – Tri-College University. Celebrating its 50th year, it offers any student within the region’s five higher education institutions the opportunity to take classes for credit at the other institutions. By doing so, students have more options to further the completion of their degree and to connect to the thousands of employers in our region looking for talented graduates.

The EDC works closely with each of our higher education institutions, including having each organizations’ presidents serving on the EDC Board.

The following captures just a few examples of how our relationships with regional higher education institutions support our mission to serve primary-sector companies:

EDC staff serve on the Concordia led Moorhead Community Resilience Task Force.

EDC staff serve on the university’s strategic planning advisory council.

Our organization has connected with MState and employers to discuss available training for maintenance technicians.

EDC staff often work closely with the NDSU research community, particularly in the precision ag and ag tech programs and have made connections with quite a few companies for research partnerships.

EDC staff serve on the TrainND advisory board creating additional opportunities to hear from industry leaders regarding workforce needs.

And it doesn’t stop there, we have many partnerships, one-off collaborations and connections that translate into a stronger, more diverse economy and higher quality of life.

Cass County Electric
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