What a year 2016 has been!
Craig Whitney is the president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.
I’m proud as ever to be a part of such a thriving community and active chamber. We’ve had many incredible things to be thankful for in the past year, but let me tell you about a few of the most notable.
The FM Chamber hosted a gubernatorial debate between Doug Burgum and Wayne Stenehjem during the election for governor of North Dakota.
We advocated for public-policy issues to best serve our business community’s interests and enable community members to make educated voting decisions. We hosted a gubernatorial debate that was broadcasted statewide. We held “cracker barrel” events to connect individuals with those running for local public office. We took stances on several issues and measures—we must note how thrilled we are to see that, in this past November’s election, Fargo Measure 1 and Cass County Measure 1 passed, allowing for an extension of a sales tax to fund the FM Diversion.
It’s also a victory to see Clay County’s new law enforcement center funding measure pass, as both of these will help propel our community forward.
Military veterans enjoying some free food at the FM Redhawks game during Military Appreciation Night.
We worked hard to support our veterans throughout the year, hosting a Military Appreciation Night that afforded more than 1,000 military families a fun night out to a Redhawks game, hosted a press conference to unveil an economic-impact study of our area’s Happy Hooligans, and we continue to support the North Dakota Air National Guard despite potential base closures.
Elly Peterson (left), David Berg (center) and Craig Whitney (right) discussing the addition of a new ninth committee to the FM Chamber.
We added to the Chamber family a ninth committee, one which will be focusing on agribusiness. With retired American Crystal Sugar President & CEO David Berg stepping up as the first chair, it was exciting to launch a renewed focus for our region’s agricultural market.
The first Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) class successfully graduated 10 incredible students, and Mukai Selekwa won the first-ever “Investors Panel Shark Tank,” going on to New York to present his business idea. This fall, we were able to announce the second class, with 24 students starting the program and who are now hard at work on their business ideas.
Fawn Germer speaks to the crowd at the latest Women Connect series.
Our Women Connect series of events only gets bigger and bigger. We opened the year in January with national author Fawn Germer and celebrated with 600 women. We’re also thrilled to see the PUSH program (Pursue Dreams, Unite Women, Shatter Barriers and Have Heart) gain traction, with 350 women in the Facebook group and 18 total groups that meet for encouragement, conversation and support.
The Chamber’s Leadership Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo program saw its greatest number of applicants yet, and 2016’s class no doubt made many positive impacts in the community. Cheney Middle School instituted an anti-bullying campaign aimed at educating parents and guardians. At Ease served as a support group for military families in the community. Kid’s Play Passport enabled families that otherwise don’t have the means to experience events and activities in town that we often take for granted.
An ambassador greets a young boy after a ribbon cutting ceremony welcoming new businesses to the community.
A scholarship database was started in partnership with the FM Area Foundation, and Faces of Fargo-Moorhead worked with the WE Center to highlight real stories from new Americans in our community.
Our Ambassadors conducted approximately 120 ribbon cuttings around town, allowing new businesses or those that broke ground or expanded to be welcomed to the community and have a contact at the Chamber.
As you can see, it’s been another busy and exciting year here, and we look forward to another great year ahead. We invite you to join us on any of our committees and we hope to see you at upcoming events.
On January 12, we’ll be hosting a discussion with the four regional mayors at State of the Cities, and on February 15, we’ll host Wells Fargo’s top economist, Jim Paulsen, for a keynote at the 2017 Economic Outlook Forum.
Thank you to all who have supported the Chamber last year. Together, we can accomplish more!
FMWF Chamber of Commerce
202 1st Ave. N, Moorhead