Mike Allmendinger: Winning the workforce with a differentiated downtown

Written by: Mike Allmendinger

Beginning this month, Kilbourne Group General Manager Mike Allmendinger will be providing Fargo INC! readers with not only original content but periodic updates on upcoming and existing Kilbourne Group projects as well. He kicks things off with a look at  why investing in a city’s downtown is beneficial not just for business but for entire communities.

Studies show that more people today are choosing where they want to live prior to actually securing a job in that city. Location first, job second. What is the Fargo Metro’s calling card? Downtown Fargo.

People thrive in interactive, human-scale neighborhoods that are designed for people. According to the Brookings Institution, the geography of innovation is shifting to walkable, bikeable urban places in which people can connect.

Downtown is our metro’s differentiator. A diverse neighborhood bursting with local culture, entertainment, education, and human connection, downtown – by WalkScore’s standards – is a walker and biker’s paradise. Downtown Fargo offers unique experiences you simply can’t have anywhere else.

From hosting ESPN’s College GameDay in front of a striking mixed-use infill project that once was a parking lot, to the images we use to attract visitors, to treating potential employee recruits to an evening on Broadway the beauty, the uniqueness, and the vibrancy of downtown leave people wanting more.

As quoted in Fortune magazine’s December 2015 article Inside Fargo, America’s Most Undervalued Tech Hub: “In economic terms, what’s happening in Fargo is that a magnetic downtown is attracting and retaining talent.”

Downtown is a valuable amenity, not only for serving our efforts in attracting new people, but also for its ability to lower the tax burden on our citizens. Mixed-use, appropriate-density development makes the most efficient use of land and infrastructure investments, and generates the highest levels of property tax per acre.

And think about the potential: Within the borders of Fargo’s oldest neighborhood there lies 115 acres of blank canvas in existing surface parking lots (many once home to historic mixed-use structures).

The many stewards of downtowns and Main Streets across the country are not inventing something new. They are restoring the smart, healthy development patterns of the past that created a center of government, education, healthcare, commerce and retail.

Downtown is yours. Enjoy it, share it, support it, and have confidence in its power and potential.

We’ve come so far in restoring downtown Fargo’s heritage and economic vitality, creating a vibrant, walkable, strong downtown that helps the entire Fargo Metro compete effectively with much larger job markets in attracting and growing a diverse workforce. And we’re just getting started.


Kilbourne Group


210 Broadway Dr. N. Ste. 300, Fargo


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Mike Allmendinger is the General Manager of the Kilbourne Group.