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february 2020

Find out what tools Fargo’s tech companies are using

Coding Camp Selling Premium CBD in ND Funding Female Founders

// FEBRUARY 2020



26 Sponsored Content: JDP Automation 54 Cracking The Code 56 Faces Of Fargo Business: Kurtis Karn 60 CBD with Kota Organics 64 What Are You Look For In A Job? 66 A Look Into The Future 68 Funding Female Founders 72 What do Companies that Develop Formulas, Devices, etc. Have in Common? 76 Academic Insight


Tech On Tech:

It is important for your business to stay as efficient as possible in order to keep up with the fast-paced business world we live in. The best way to do this is usually through the implementation of the right technology. However, with so many options these days, it can be difficult to sift through the duds and find the right pieces of technology for your company. That’s where we come in, we interviewed some of the most forward-thinking technology companies in the Fargo Moorhead area to find out what pieces of tech they’re using to make their operations run smoothly.

Follow Fargo Inc! on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter



80 Ladyboss Of The Month: Theresa Garrett, Kirsten Henagin & April Stevenson 82 Emerging Prairie Announces Move to Downtown Fargo’s Historic Black Building on Broadway 84 Olson’s Outlook 87 Business Events Calendar 95 Gracious Givers: Gate City Bank and Angel’s Keen Angels

E d i t o r ’s n o t e


Beginnings M

y name is Brady Drake and I’m the editor of Fargo INC!. I was born and raised in Fargo and have a deep connection with the hometown that I love. I went to school just across the river at Concordia College where I studied multimedia journalism and business. I have worked in many areas of the media industry since my junior year of college and will bring every bit of that diversity to this magazine. This is my first editorial since Fargo INC!’s previous editor, Andrew Jason, left his role. While I’m extremely excited for the opportunity, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all of the work he and everyone else put in to build this magazine into what it

Brady Drake, Fargo INC! Editor 10


is today. To Andrew and anyone else who has worked on the magazine in any capacity prior to my writing of this, thank you for building a platform that highlights all of the great things going on in our business community. I’m ecstatic that I have the chance to be a part of the storytelling going forward. I believe in journalistic integrity and will maintain that while working to bring our readers the most useful B2B information in our state with the help of our amazing editorial board. During my short time working with Spotlight, I’ve encountered a wonderfully warm and helpful business community that I’m very much looking forward to working with on a monthly basis. I want to keep


the line of communication between myself and this community as open as possible so please, if you have story ideas or any comments, email me at fargoinc@spotlightmediafargo.com.

Brady Drake Brady Drake Fargo INC! Editor

As a bootstrapped entrepreneur of 11 years (and a power-user of: Mac, Gsuite, Adobe), I take great pride in being very resourceful when growing my business. Different software tools have helped me in so many ways and especially in finding alternative ways to solve problems, save money, track activity and more. I love issues like this because technology is becoming more and more available for small companies like mine and everything isn’t only enterprise anymore. Below I put together a list of some tools I have used in different areas of my business, most of which I find at Producthunt.com. Hopefully, you can try some for yourself.

Top tools I like and use: Screencastify: Google Chrome add-on to take video screencasts - super easy and saves videos and gifs to my google drive. Airtable: It’s like google sheets on steroids and much more user-friendly. It’s a great software if you want to visualize your spreadsheets. Pocket: Google Chrome add-on to save websites that I would like to reference later. Lucid Chart: I love creating flowcharts and visual maps of things like our company’s structure, workflows, accountability charts and more. Very easy mind mapping tool. Grammarly: Can’t live without this Chrome add-on. It’s a spell checker on steroids. Lastpass: Once you get more and more into using software you will really appreciate this password manager. Hubspot: I use Hubspot for sales and marketing. It’s a great tool with tons of features especially when sales prospecting. It has email tracking, sequencing, workflows, pipelines, CRM and more. Google’s “My Tasks”: When I need to save a quick task or remember something for later, Google tasks in my go-to and I see everything right in my email view. Basecamp: We have been Basecamp power-users for eight years. We project manage everything out of here. And, your jaw will drop when you see how affordable this powerful software is.

M ike Dragosavich Mike Dragosavich Publisher/Founder

EDITORIAL BOARD Necessity drives creativity. As our community looks to the beginning of a new year and decade, employers need to think differently about partnerships to get a competitive edge in attracting and retaining their workforce.



United Way of Cass-Clay

Greater FM Economic Development Corporation


In 2019, millennials surpassed baby boomers as the country’s largest adult generation. Accounting for approximately 35 percent of the workforce, millennials have driven a digital transformation across multiple industries - including nonprofits. As a result, nonprofits are prioritizing mobile optimization and digital fundraising strategies in order to inform, engage and inspire change in their communities.

Chief Innovation Officer

With this issue, there is something to be said about businesses connecting to talk shop & learn from each other on best practices. I see it all the time with entrepreneurs picking each other’s brains and is something the NDSU RTP Incubator tenants appreciate about being there together. And I appreciate Fargo Inc using this magazine as a platform to share good local practical knowledge.


Communications and Marketing Officer

FM Area Foundation

The FM Area Foundation is excited to now be accepting grant applications from nonprofits in the areas of arts and culture; basic human needs; community building; education; and women in leadership. Our community grant rounds look to promote collaborative efforts and to address needs throughout the Cass-Clay region.


Communications Manager

Moore Engineering, Inc.

A college student asked me recently how we used to work without computers. It took me a second to remember. After email and desktop software, the cloud and 24/7 connectivity were probably the next revolutionary leaps in productivity. Now, it’s artificial intelligence coupled with big data. Vision and adaptability are valuable career currencies.




Ozbun Executive Director of Entrepreneurship

NDSU College of Business

Clay Shirky has said the technology doesn’t become interesting until it’s technologically boring. Today technology is not its own industry. It’s in every industry. As this issue shows, our region is working to use technology in new ways that one day soon will be commonplace. The future is not ‘what can we build’ but increasingly ‘how do we cross-pollinate new ideas with existing problems?’ I for one look forward to these boring, and community-changing developments.


Dakota Business Lending

Technology is here to stay. Where the challenge lies, however, is in moderating its usage and ensuring that it does not distract us from our home, our work, and the world around us. May we all find a healthy balance so technology can complement our lives rather than consume it.



FMWF Chamber of Commerce

Emerging Prairie

VP of Finance and Operations

What an exciting topic this month! As you read more on tech innovations and local use in this magazine, we at The Chamber want to invite you to an upcoming event to dive even deeper. Our Economic Outlook Forum on February 20 at the Delta by Marriott is featuring Forbes publisher and futurist Rich Karlgaard. He will present on “Tech, Trade, Turbulence and the 2020 Elections,” and answer when the next recession could hit, how to deal with AI, the Cloud, IoT, and digital disruption, and how business leaders can stay competitive. Please join us! Registrations are open at fmwfchamber.com now.

Director of Ecosystem

Ed Melroe and the Keller brothers invented what would become Bobcat Company. Out of Bobcat came Steiger Tractor. Out of Steiger came Concord. Amity Technology came out of Concord. On and on. The story of technological innovations in Fargo has been strong. As the community grows, this is sure to continue. That’s why excites me. Success begets success. Now is the time to capitalize on the success.



























Learn more about us at SpotlightMediaFargo.com





February 2020 Volume 5 Issue 2

Fargo INC! is published 12 times a year and is available at area businesses and online at FargoInc.com.

Publisher EDITORIAL Editorial Director Editor Graphic Designer Director of Photography Photographer Contributors INTERACTIVE Business Development Manager

Mike Dragosavich Drago@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Alexandra Martin Brady Drake fargoinc@spotlightmediafargo.com Kim Cowles Hillary Ehlen Photography@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Kayleigh Omang Steve Dusek, Shontarius Aikens, Katie Beedy, Adrienne Olson Nick Schommer nickschommer@spotlightmediafargo.com

Digital Marketing Strategist

Tommy Uhlir

Inbound Marketing Strategist

Kirsten Lund

Videographer Executive Sales Assistant Graphic Designer ADVERTISING Associate Sales Director

Patrick Thompson, Laura Alexander Kellen Feeney Ben Buchanan Neil Keltgen Neil@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Senior Sales Executive

Paul Hoefer Paul@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Sales Executives

Zach Olson Zach@SpotlightMediaFargo.com Matt Becker Matt@SpotlightMediaFargo.com

Client Relations Client Relations Manager Marketing Designer ADMINISTRATION VP of Human Resources Controller Account Strategist DISTRIBUTION Delivery

clientrelations@spotlightmediafargo.com Jenny Johnson Christy German Colleen Dreyer Jay Borland Cassie Wiste Bruce Crummy, John Stuber, Craig Sheets

Fargo INC! is published by Spotlight LLC, Copyright 2020 Fargo INC! & FargoInc.com. All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced or distributed without written permission of Fargo INC!, and Spotlight LLC, is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to or reliance on such information. Spotlight LLC, accepts no liability for the accuracy of statements made by the advertisers.

Spotlight LLC 15 Broadway N, Suite 500 Fargo, ND 58102 Info@SpotlightMediaFargo.com ADVERTISING: 701-478-SPOT (7768)


Every home has a story. Some are custom builds with every detail planned out and others are a renovated work-in-progress. This month, we explored some homes with special stories to tell. From rebuilding after a devastating fire to designing and building a very first home, we are excited to share these homeownership stories with you!

With Valentine’s Day on February 14, the whole month of February turns into a celebration of amore. Whether you have been married for years, are fresh into a relationship, are pining after a crush or celebrating Valentine’s Day, February is a time to embrace those around you whom you love. And what better way to celebrate love than to get out of the house and go on a special date? We’ve compiled a variety of date night (or day, or weekend!) events to be sure to take your special person to.

Coming Soon!

2019 was a season of questions for North Dakota State football. Was this program in rebuilding mode? With a new coach, a new quarterback and a host of new faces on both sides of the ball, the rest of the FCS was salivating at the thought of knocking the Bison from their perch. But what ensued in 2019? The Bison only won 16 games. That new quarterback? He was named the Walter Payton Award winner...as a redshirt freshman. Perhaps most importantly, the FCS programs that were hungry to knock the Bison out were left licking their wounds as the Bison devoured opponents en route to their eighth title in nine seasons. Not bad for a rebuild, huh?

Photos via The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce 24




Sponsored Content


Ken Olexa, General Manager, JDP Automation

By Brady Drake Photos by Hillary Ehlen

Sponsored Content


epeatability is the key to consistently making a quality product. And the key to repeatability in your business is automation.

That’s where JDP Automation comes in. You don’t have to go outside of the Fargo-Moorhead area for quality systems integration, JDP can provide your business with the tools it needs to streamline its processes and achieve both higher quality and higher profitability.

from a widget to a printed out report. It’s that flexibility and commitment to their partners for the long term that sets JDP Automation apart from its competitors. “Our commitment to our partners is beyond none,” said Ken Olexa, JDP’s General Manager. “We are there when they need something and we are there to be an advocate for what the right solution is. We don’t just go in and do a job, we partner with our customers for the long term because their processes continually evolve.”

JDP uses everything from UR-10E robots to Rockwell Automation PLCs to help produce products that can vary

what the customers say! Brad Odegard FlexTM Inc., Owner and President

“We’ve seen about a 30 percent reduction in our time that it takes to finish our process. It’s not that the robot is doing it any faster than a person would be doing it, it’s just that the robot is always doing it… We were able to tell JDP where we wanted to get to and they were able to come back with their knowledge and expertise to provide input on what we need.”

Todd Mondry Red River Commodities, Vice President of Engineering and Operations “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with JDP. They have delivered facility/process automation to every division of our company. This has helped our organization to be progressive in control systems and simplify our processes. We look for JDP to keep us on the cutting edge of our customized applications. JDP’s strong customer service is driven by direct contact to the engineering staff as well as remote programming and troubleshooting access.” 803 28th Street South Suite A Fargo, ND USA 701-478-6520 jdp.us.com

It is important for your business to stay as efficient as possible in order to keep up with the fast-paced business world we live in. The best way to do this is usually through the implementation of the right technology. However, with so many options these days, it can be difficult to sift through the duds and find the right pieces of technology for your company. That’s where we come in, we interviewed some of the most forward-thinking technology companies in the Fargo Moorhead area to find out what pieces of tech they’re using to make their operations run smoothly. 28


By Brady Drake | Photos by Hillary Ehlen



Mike Berreth, Director of Engineering, Product



Jenkins is a continuous integration (CI) tool utilized by multiple development teams at Bushel. It provides us with a way to automate compilation, test running, and in some cases deployment of our software. Jenkins alone saves us thousands of developer hours every year.

Harvest is the time tracking app we use at Bushel. It serves many purposes such as illustrating employee effort, billing the client, and tracking cost vs estimates for projects.

Jira is a proprietary issue tracking product developed by Atlassian. It provides bug tracking, issue tracking, and project management functions. Jira serves as a progress tracking platform for the company, making sure that each project has a clear definition of what has been accomplished, what is remaining to be accomplished, and the status of each of the items that are currently in progress.



Slack is the messaging platform we use in order to communicate amongst team members and other members of the company. Slack enables us to be more efficient in our communication than trying to do so through email..

Docker and Kubernetes, our development and operations teams, package web applications into Docker containers to ensure consistent deployments across environments and provide an additional layer of isolation. We use Kubernetes to orchestrate the deployment of the containers, providing high-availability, self-healing, and automated traffic routing.

Bushel’s development team utilizes a variety of IDEs and tools for their software development. Among these are IntelliJ IDEA, PhpStorm, Xcode, Android Studio, and Visual Studio. We utilize a wide variety of languages and frameworks as well, including PHP with Laravel, Java/Kotlin with Spring/ Spring Boot or Karaf, Javascript/Typescript with React, C# with ASP.NET, among others. As should be clear, our development team is using a lot of different tools/resources to make sure that our software solutions are effective and efficient.



Officevibe is a web-based employee engagement platform to conduct employee surveys and receive feedback to measure employee satisfaction and generate business inputs. The platform anonymously collects employee feedback and shares automated notifications of the feedback generated with managers. The reports feature of the software provides realtime analysis of the surveys and feedback based on geography, team, and department. The platform also assists human resource teams to conduct onboarding surveys.

Figma is a cloud-based design tool used by our design and development teams that shows real-time work within design projects. Teammates collaborate on the same file at the same time. This helps our teams maintain transparency of what is to be built, efficiency in communication, and changes in real-time.

HubSpot is a platform of marketing, sales, customer service, and CRM software. We use Hubspot to consolidate our tools to create team efficiency and total unification of data across multiple teams.



Nathan Ellerling, Head of Marketing



WordPress is our content management system for our popular blog that attracts half a million visitors each month. As a marketing team, this helps us publish content efficiently for many purposes such as attracting new email subscribers, nurturing leads, and educating existing customers. It’s easy to use and helps us scale.

Salesforce: This customer resource management system helps us personalize experiences for each of our email subscribers, leads, and customers. We use this to communicate with leads, keep track of their progress, and ultimately keep our customers happy and successful with our product.

Autopilot: This marketing automation system helps us share relevant messages with the right person at the right time. This is primarily our email marketing system, which uses the information from Salesforce to personalize the content we share with our email subscribers, sales leads, and customers. It helps us organize how we communicate with nearly 1 million unique individuals at scale.

Zendesk: This customer success software helps us communicate with prospective customers and support existing users of our own platform. Zendesk helps us track trends so we can communicate users’ needs with our product development team to ultimately improve their experience with our product.



GitHub: We use GitHub to log snags we (or our users) encounter when using our software so that our product development team can collect and prioritize enhancements very quickly and efficiently.

Aha!: Aha serves as a backlog “wish list� of functionality we could add into our platform, making sure no good ideas are lost, while helping our team vote on upcoming functionality to add to our product roadmap.

Zoom: We use Zoom to video call sales leads and customers. We even use it to record our popular podcast, which ranked as a top 10 marketing podcast in Forbes.

HighFive is our internal video call system, which keeps us connected between our Fargo and Bismarck offices.



Slack: It may come as a surprise, but we don’t use email for internal communication at all at CoSchedule. Slack helps us instant message each other to collaborate quickly and efficiently.

15Five: We use 15Five for a performance management tool. It allows us to have weekly pulse checks, structured bi-weekly/month one-onone’s as well as formalized quarterly reviews with all of our employees to ensure they’re growing personally and professionally.

Google Products: From the business side, we write content with Google Docs, use Google Sheets to interpret data, present to prospects and customers with Google Slides, and even maintain internal team websites with Google Sites.

CoSchedule: As a marketing team, we use the tool our product team creates to organize all of our marketing in one place. As a technology company, this helps us understand the market needs, strengths our product offers to solve problems, and presents opportunities for us to help the company improve the platform we offer.



Taylor Theisen, Marketing Coordinator



Monday.com: Here at Korber Medipak Systems, a couple of our different departments such as Sales and IT use Monday.com, daily, to communicate who is assigned to which project, how high of a priority the project is, when it is due, if is it currently being worked on, or if the project is completed. Monday.com is helpful because it keeps management up to date on what employees are currently working on and the exact status of that project, as well as keeps an up-to-date, organized list of tasks that have to be done. It’s the perfect tool for managing projects and tasks.

SAP Concur: Korber Medipak Systems has employees that are required to travel often. We have found SAP Concur to be a reliable and easy-to-use reimbursement website. SAP Concur is a travel and expense management tool for businesses. While it is capable of helping plan and manage trips, we mostly use Concur for employee’s expense reports. It allows employees to easily enter the reimbursement information needed as well as attach an image of proof of purchase. There is also the option to attach a credit card to automatically import the charges and match them to receipts. On top of it being easy to navigate, Concur is able to convert any currency to US Dollars at the correct exchange rate based on the date of purchase, which is just another perk of the website. It’s a great tool for us because of how often our employees are traveling.

Microsoft Team: Here at Korber Medipak Systems we use Microsoft Teams to stay connected with our employees. Microsoft Teams allows users to create their own teams where each individual of that team has access to chat groups. Microsoft teams is especially helpful because conversations can stay organized when communicating with multiple people in your team. There are also options such as voice and video chat. In addition, Microsoft teams is tied to Microsoft Office features such as Word, Planner, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, SharePoint, etc. allowing files to all be kept in one place where all members of the team have access. Members all have access to edit the documents and they are updated in real-time making it easy to collaborate with colleagues even if they are in another division.

Jira: Korber Medipak Systems uses Jira, a customer and employee ticketing system that provides a portal to allow customers to interact with and receive support from experts worldwide. Customers are able to track the progress of support requests and share information via messaging and file sharing to reduce cost of onsite support. There is also a searchable Knowledge Base to allow customers to find helpful information on their own without the need to request support. Jira provides value to Korber by allowing different divisions of the company to interact with the customer and have the same information to work with. It serves as a database so that information that was provided to solve a problem can later be found to solve similar problems at other sites. Because Korber is a global company, Jira allows customers to access to experts day and night. The common user interface makes it simple for customers to get support from all of the Korber companies in a similar manner thereby eliminating the need for customers to learn different systems for their different types of equipment.



GoToMeeting: Korber often uses GoToMeeting for voice calls and meetings with customers, clients, and colleagues. GoToMeeting is a teleconferencing tool that allows computer users to audio and/or video conference with others around the globe through the internet in real-time. It also allows those involved in the conference call to share their desktop screen with colleagues or customers as they are using it. GoToMeeting is perfect for us because we have employees and customers all over the world, so with GoToMeeting we can conveniently and cost-effectively have those important meetings without the time and cost of constantly flying to different locations.

YouTube: Korber Medipak Systems uses YouTube, a video-sharing platform that allows users to watch videos that are posted by other users. YouTube is used for entertainment by individuals as well as by many businesses to promote their products. At Korber we use it more as a communication tool to our customers. We don’t make many of our videos public in order to keep the intricacy of how our machines are built and how they function private to our company. We often privately send customers the video links so that we can explain how specific machines or parts of a machine work without showing the whole world. YouTube is really convenient to use for this purpose because this way all of our videos are stored in one place that all employees can access and all you have to do to share the video is email a link to whomever you would like to share it with.

LinkedIn: We use LinkedIn at Korber Medipak Systems to advertise open job positions, tradeshow invitations, and company updates and accomplishments. We also like to use LinkedIn as a way to educate potential customers or employees. LinkedIn is a social media platform more tailored toward professional uses. LinkedIn allows you or your company to network with people or companies that you may not connect with otherwise.



Andy Henderson, CMO

BNG is a data-driven company that utilizes KPIs, scorecards, and dashboards to ensure each division is on track towards its goals. BrightGauge is integrated into our core data sources to provide easily digestible charts, tables and graphs to our employees in real-time. These include sales numbers, support statistics, client satisfaction and financial tracking. -Nick Olerud

Jason Gibb, CPO

ConnectWise is our internal professional services automation (PSA) software utilized by every department of our company. It allows BNG to sell, service, and support our clients in one streamline and effective solution. This software is heavily used to track and document the entire lifecycle of our clients, from lead to closed deal. -Nick Olerud

Nick Olerud, COO



Physical security and access is crucial to BNG. When selecting a door security system, we needed something that was easy to manage and maintain. With the PDK system, we ensure each employee has the appropriate access to different locations within our facility. The system provides us with great notifications when Secure Access areas are properly accessed, with detailed event information, allowing us to audit access to these areas. It also provides us with email notifications when users are trying to access areas they have not been granted. With the ability to control the system from a browser or phone, it provides a very powerful solution, that is extremely easy to use.

We were able to partner with a great local company, High Point Networks, to find an amazing solution for our business needs. They provide us with a Firewall-as-a-Service solution that grows with our business, without having to reinvest into new hardware frequently. Along with providing us the solution, they also bring their experienced and knowledageble team with it, offering us a vast amount of assistance in configuring and troubleshooting issues. -Nick Olerud

-Nick Olerud

At BNG, Trello is our Swiss Army Knife. This general purpose list management tool is used in so many different aspects of running our company, from managing our traction level 10 meetings, quarterly reviews, and one-on-ones, to Kanban-style project management, to tracking new team member recruiting and onboarding activities. Our team also uses it for personal boards to track individual tasks and goals and communicate priorities and status to their team and managers. Trello is highly customizable and includes dozens of “power-ups” to add integrations and automation that makes it fit into almost any existing workflow. We couldn’t operate our business without it! -Jason Gibb



Jira is one of the most popular tools for software development teams to manage their work. The software team at BNG uses an agile Scrum process with two-week sprints. All developer activities, such as user-stories or bugs, are stored in Jira in the backlog for tracking purposes. The team prioritizes and moves them into the sprint during their sprint planning sessions. Throughout the sprint, the team moves cards along a Kanban workflow. At the end of each sprint, Jira provides a burndown summary and metrics to help us measure team productivity. -Jason Gibb

The conference communication tool of choice at BNG is Zoom. Zoom isn’t the oldest tech in this space, but its reliability, price and feature set make it our favorite method to interface with clients and remote team members across the country (and the globe!). We use it for internal communications, customer meetings and also recording webinars. It’s very easy to spin up a meeting, it integrates with Google calendars and is simple to send a link to add users quickly. Think of Slack as a team communication tool on steroids that can replace unnecessary emails, texts, and calls. It offers real-time chat, audio, and video calling for individuals and groups. Anyone can create open or private channels and invite people to collaborative discussions. One of the strengths of Slack is the open platform, which allows hundreds of enhancements and integrations. At BNG we use it extensively to share information, collaborate on projects, schedule lunches, celebrate wins, and keep each other entertained and motivated. In addition to dozens of off-the-shelf Slack apps we’ve installed, we’ve also built integrations with many of our internal systems such as real-time notification of system health, PTO requests, and access to secure documents.

-Andy Henderson

-Jason Gibb A massively important tool used by our Accounting department is ConnectBooster*. Fully integrated with our accounting and CRM platforms, this tool automated the entire invoicing and collections process. The average time to receive payment for BNG was reduced from 40+ days to 1.5. It also eliminates hundreds of administrative hours per year, and virtually all clerical errors. Handling both fixed and variable amount invoices, this is a must-have for servicebased businesses. * Disclaimer: ConnectBooster is a platform created by BNG, marketed, and sold to service businesses. -Andy Henderson



Sometimes fiction inspires technology. At BNG, we have a ‘holodeck’ conference room that breaks traditional convention. With state-of-the-art LED screens lining the floor and ceiling, the design is intended to create an immersive experience for meetings. While overkill to simply support a meeting, the core purpose is to reflect our fun, boundary-pushing culture. -Andy Henderson

Over the years, we’ve evaluated many social media publishing platforms to save time posting and improve consistency in our content. All tools have their merits, and currently, we’re trialing OneUp. We love its ability to directly publish to both Instagram and Google My Business (among others). The analytics reporting features leaves a bit to be desired, but for the price it’s very attractive. -Andy Henderson



Erick Roder, Business Development



At Codelation we use Slack, a messaging software, for a lot of different communication between team members. We use it for instant messaging between team members and for communication with some of our customers. Why we like it: Most software engineers are pretty introverted and prefer to communicate with gifs instead of conversation. Plus, it really helps save on the emails back and forth because you can organize projects by conversations. Open workspaces can be too noisy to be productive. This keeps the office volume at a workable level. One of the nicer aspects of it in our field is that it allows us to screen share to show each other what we’re working on without having to get up and stand over the other person’s shoulder.

Our customers aren’t always local. Zoom allows us to conference in customers as well by just sending them a web link. It works with office phones, cell phones and computers. Zoom also sends automated meeting links to everyone’s calendars. Why we like it: It helps us talk to potential customers, and we’ve found that sometimes a 15-minute phone call can save three hours of emails.

There are many different Customer Relationship Manager softwares, or CRMs, out there. The CRM we use at Codelation Is the Gmail-based Copper. Our sales team uses it to track contacts, leads and sales. Why we like it: It helps with automated meeting settings. We can send customers a link to a synced calendar and they pick a time they want to meet.



After a solid morning of coding, sometimes you need a break. One of the hardest questions coworkers deal with is where should we go to lunch? For this we use Push Save. Push Save was developed out of Fargo, and this app offers a variety of coupons to various restaurants that the purchaser gets to pick from. When it’s time to go to lunch users can just look for one of the deals from a restaurant they picked when signing up. Why we like it: Not only is it a locally-founded software, but a portion of the proceeds from each coupon package purchased goes to a local organization the buyer gets to choose as well. It’s a great way to save money, give back to organizations and lift up our development community.

This is a subscription-based creative software we use for basically all of our marketing material creation. All graphic and video work is made in one of the programs in the Adobe Creative Suite. We also partner with on-demand creative partners of Many Pixels, Penji and Fiverr. Why we like it: The Adobe suite helps us with graphic art, audio and video production, as well as a variety of different services if we have too much on our plate.

Sometimes you just keep it simple. We use Garage Band to edit sound together for our podcasts. Why we like it: It’s pretty easy to use, and was on the desktop of my Mac when we started recording our podcast last summer. It has worked well for what we are using it for. There are a lot more uses for it in music production.



Apple TV is a little extension box that plugs into any screen with HDMI outputs, then it wirelessly displays laptop screens to basically any TV. This has a lot of different applications as well. Why we like it: We like to sync my computer to our “trade show only� display TV. Once a month, we will have a team-building pizza party where we watch funny Youtube videos we all collect and save in a Google spreadsheet. This screen sharing is nice for actual trade shows, as well as client presentations in different locations and meeting rooms.



Cracking The Code E M E R G I N G P R A I R I E ’ S E M E R G I N G D I G I TA L A C A D E M Y I S B R I N G I N G A W H O L E N E W WAY O F I N S T R U C T I N G T O F A R G O ’ S C O D I N G C O M M U N I T Y. By Brady Drake Photo By Hillary Ehlen


merging Prairie is offering individuals a chance to take place in their new 20 week coding bootcamp, Emerging Digital Academy, this coming April. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to code, this training program may be for you. According to the program’s director, almost half of software developers come from a non-traditional educational background. Because of this, there is no previous experience required to apply. “There is a nearly 100 percent employment rate in the area for software developers,” said Booher. They are still accepting applications and here is what you need to know: Where did the idea to start the academy come from? Emerging Digital Academy is a non-profit coding bootcamp that teaches students the technical and soft skills needed to begin a career as a software developer. The concept of an immersive software development program is not a new idea. There are several dozen high performing programs of this nature that operate in major cities around the U.S.. However, there have been no such programs in North Dakota. As part of the Grand Farm initiative, the Emerging Prairie team started thinking about what it would look like to help address the technical labor gap in North Dakota. Technology companies need software developers, and so Emerging Digital Academy was formed to help train folks from all backgrounds in the skills needed to start a career in software development.

context. Students start by learning the foundational concepts of web development using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. We quickly move into more advanced training with frontend development (utilizing React and Redux), backend development (Node.js and Express), authentication and API development, and database design. The final third of the program is focused exclusively on student projects. The first challenge is a solo project where students demonstrate the ability to design, build, and deploy a full-stack web application on their own. The final capstone project is a group project, where students practice modern software engineering processes and team workflow to design, implement and present their project to a real community client via a public demo. Along the way, students will have participated in a Career Day, where they meet with local employers who are hiring. Our employer network is crucial to the success of this program because we are only as successful as our ability to help place students in industry upon graduation. The tuition of the 20-week program is $15,500. There are financing and scholarship opportunities available. It is free to apply and there is no commitment or obligation. In other words, we encourage students to apply even if they do not have financing figured out. Once accepted, we work directly with the student to ensure that they are informed on all of their options. As a non-profit, we seek to connect all of our students with as many state and local resources as possible. In addition, we are working with the Bank of North Dakota to create a pilot for student financing, which would make us the only coding bootcamp in the country with this type of program. See EmergingAcademy.org or contact hello@emergingacademy.org for more details.

What exactly does the academy entail/what does it offer? Emerging Digital Academy runs a single program called Full Stack Engineering. This full-time, immersive program is 20 weeks long and focuses exclusively on tools, skills, and programming concepts related to modern web application development taught in a professional FARGOINC.COM


KURTIS KARN Manager of Talent Acquisition for WEX and Discovery Benefits Kurtis Karn has been drawn to people ever since a young age. In seventh grade, he told his mom, “I think I’m just going to focus on getting to know my classmates instead of focusing on actual school.” That should've been a sign that he was destined for a life in Human Resources. He jokes that if he could have majored in "talking to people”, he would have. During his 10 years in the human resources field, his passion for company culture and employee engagement has driven him to want to help companies make their people better humans. He is an avid runner, musician and is consistently told by his sevenyear-old son that he is the funniest one in the family. He has his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Communications from the University of Jamestown and has a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Mary. He has been certified with his SHRM-CP and his PHR designations in the Human resources field. When he is not trying to help people be better humans, he loves going to concerts with his wife, singing and dancing to 80’s songs with his son and daughter, playing fetch with his wiener dog and is constantly planning his next tattoo. He is also the co-creator of a new company, Sunshine & 79 Speaking and Consulting.



Faces of

Fargo Business

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received? “Because that is how we have always done it.” I think we hear this a lot in our jobs and it shows that you are not evolving either as a person or as an organization. You CANNOT stay complacent in your professional development or in growing a business. You always need to be looking to make things better and continue to evolve. I think this is the scariest thing that I can hear when asking questions or when looking for direction from other leaders. What would you give a TED Talk on? The positive effects of humor in the workplace. Work DOES NOT have to be a terrible place that you just got to for a paycheck. I feel like having the ability to laugh at work allows people to be more engaged in their environment and improves retention and drops turnover. How does the reality of your job differ from people’s perception of it? I love this question! People think I just walk around and talk with people all day. When you are in hiring it is the “fun” part of human resources. People always say, “your team is so fun!” I think that is less about what we do, and more about how we do it. Our team has to represent the companies we are hiring for and show all the great things that we love about our job. So yeah, it is fun when you are passionate about your role and your companies and you want other people to work there. When you have to hire 200-300 people a year, there is a lot of strategy and moving parts that you need to take care of in the process. Yes, we do need to be out talking with people and doing interviews, but you also have to make sure that you are talking to the right people and putting them in the right place within a company to be successful. 3 media recommendations: The book Powerful by Patty McCord. She was the CoCreator of the Netflix Cultural Deck and did a lot to help Netflix grow so quickly. Also, if you haven’t, take a look at the Netflix Culture Deck online! The Netflix show Explained. These are short 25 minutes episodes that break down random topics from coding and cryptocurrency to music to why diets fail. The episodes are detailed but easily digestible for your mind. They can’t make these fast enough for me to binge! Talent Acquisition Podcasts - Hire Power Radio, The Recruiting Future and HR Happy Hour. This industry moves so fast and there are numerous new ways to engage with your applicant population by using new and different technologies. It’s fun to see what is out there! What’s one way you foster creativity within your organization? By allowing employees to drive a lot of the cultural events within our company. Human Resources can help to facilitate, but employees need to foster that culture, allowing them to drive the events and fun activities increases their engagement. Employees are really creative, let them run with it!





CBD A LOOK AT FARGO’S FIRST RETAIL STORE SPECIALIZING IN PREMIUM CBD PRODUCTS: KOTA ORGANICS. By Brady Drake Photos by Hillary Ehlen The Cannabidiol or CBD market in the United States is exploding, with 14% of Americans are using CBD products according to gallup.com. Though the market for CBD clearly exists in our country, our community has been slow to catch up. However, one local entrepreneur, Weiwei “Vivian” Fellman, is looking to change that by founding Kota Organics, North Dakota’s first retail store specializing in selling premium organic CBD products. Fellman, a current user of CBD herself, says that she started using it in an attempt to alleviate anxiety a few years ago. After having success, Fellman began to develop a passion for CBD. Her passion eventually blossomed to the point where she decided to move on from her job at Discovery Benefits, where she had worked for the past three years, and start Kota Organics. With Kota Organics, Fellman now helps customers who walk through her doors looking to alleviate things like anxiety, sleep issues or sore joints and muscles. Customers can buy everything from CBD tinctures, capsules, pain cream, chocolates, and skincare products like lotions and beauty serums. They even sell CBD products that are safe for dogs and cats to consume!




Although the CBD has no psychoactive effects, people often still associate it with marijuana and its psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), due to misunderstanding. Although there is a small amount of THC in some of the full-spectrum CBD products that Fellman offers, the amount falls under the federally mandated limit of 0.3%, meaning that the THC in the product will have no psychoactive effect on the user. However, Fellman also sells broad spectrum CBD products and CBD isolate products that are THC free for customers concerned about staying completely clean for a drug test. The selling of the products became officially legal in the area with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill which allows the cultivation of Hemp with THC levels lower than 0.3%.



Kota Organics opened its doors On December 8, 2019.


Vivian Fellman moved from Beijing to Fargo in 2009.

However, Fellman wants to be clear that her store isn’t just a typical CBD retail store, it’s a CBD lifestyle shop where they help their clients achieve mental and physical wellness, starting with the use of quality CBD products. Their clients will have access to the industry leading brands while they live in the Fargo Moorhead area. They will also have privileges to attend wellness events that they will be organizing such as meditation workshops. Their mission is to create an organic wellness culture and help the community to improve the quality of life.

Vivian says that the change from a city of 21 million to one of 120 thousand was huge but she now embraces her new home with her husband, two sons and their golden retriever “Chunk”.

Taking A Leap Of Faith

“There was definitely a risk to starting this,” said Fellman. “I think it’s worth giving a try though. I feel like if I never gave it a try, I would never know. This way I won’t regret it. My husband, my kids and my family and friends have been extremely supportive.”

Like most entrepreneurs, Fellman took on a huge risk by starting her own business. However, starting a business is far from the first leap of faith Fellman has taken in her life. Born and raised in China, Fellman met her husband, Jeff Fellman, a Fargo native, in Beijing while he studied mandarin and worked there for Daimler Chrysler in 2004. Jeff moved back to Fargo in 2007, the couple got engaged in 2008 and Vivian left her marketing job with Mercedes-Benz China in 2009 to move in with her husband here in Fargo. 62


“Fargo is my home now,” said Fellman. “I feel really blessed to be here in this great community.” With already having the experience of making such a drastic change, Vivian has embraced another leap of faith in starting her new business.

To learn more visit kotaorganics.com

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A JOB Percentage of Respondents Listed These In Their Most Important Benefits

Would you rather have a 5% raise or 40 extra hours of PTO?

Retirement contributions- 50% PTO- 50% Health Insurance- 33%

A 5% raise- 66.7% 40 Extra Hours of PTO- 33.3%

On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) how important is paid time off? 2- 8.3% 3- 8.3% 4- 41.7% 5- 41.7%

On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) how important is health insurance? 3- 16.7% 4- 33.3% 5- 50%

On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the lowest) how important is a matching 401k plan?

Would you rather receive a gift from your employer of an Ipad or unlimited free lattes? Ipad- 50% Unlimited free lattes50%

3- 16.7% 4- 41.7% 5- 41.7%

With the demographic’s of the labor market constantly changing across generations, we at Fargo INC! wanted to take the pulse of what some of the younger professionals in our community value when searching for employment. To do this, we sent out a survey to The Chamber’s Young Professionals Network.

Things respondents look for most in a job Professional growth Work/life balance Happiness The culture Fit Salary

How important on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) is work/life balance? 3- 8.3% 4- 25% 5- 66.7%

On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) how important is a benefits package?

Are you satisfied with your current benefits package

3- 8.3% 4- 25% 5- 66.7%

Yes- 75% No- 25%

Are you willing to work over 40 hours a week? Yes- 88.3% No- 16.7%

How important on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest) is the ability to advance in a company? 3- 16.7% 4- 33.3% 5- 50%



A Look Into the Future How TrinSPIN is pushing technology forward.

As a small business lending partner, we have had the privilege of working with hundreds of innovative and inspiring entrepreneurs throughout the state from a multitude of industries. Where our honor lies, however, is in the faces and places of these small businesses and the success stories they have to share. Among these is the story of TrinSPIN – a local technology contractor and subcontractor with a unique story to tell. Their story is one of humble beginnings, big transitions, and over thirty years of hard work. For this issue, we’ll take a deeper look into the future of technology through the eyes of TrinSPIN.


rom rewiring houses on lunch breaks to owning and operating his own technology company, Trinity Schaff’s story starts out like many others. It was when he was working for another technology vendor that the idea for TrinSPIN came to him. As he saw and gained experience working, he began to refine his own vision for his career. What Trinity wanted was a company that emphasized customer service, putting the client first, and making their lives easier. So, in 2011, Trinity followed his passion and started TrinSPIN right out of his Fargo home. The rest is history. “I wanted to work somewhere where I didn’t have to answer to anybody…to be able to have my own company and grow it… to focus on what is best for the customer, as opposed to pushing what’s in stock and rushing to get the job done. All in all, I wanted to work someplace that really made me happy.” Over the course of the next nine years, through dedication, drive, and commitment, TrinSPIN would transform from a oneman startup to a team of leading experts in complete audio, visual, and automation solutions. Because they have been at the frontlines of technology trends, Trinity has a lot to say about what the future looks like for the technology climate in North Dakota, which can be summarized in two words: rising entrepreneurs. “Probably the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of young entrepreneurs coming out with new innovative designs,” Trinity explained. “We



[North Dakotans] are a smaller group of people but, when we work together, ideas fly, and everybody seems to be able to make things happen.” All in all, the vibrance he has seen throughout ND amazes and inspires him to continue innovative work in the industry. But what can we expect to see in North Dakota’s technology world in the coming years? Trinity narrowed it down to three key things: integration, simplicity, and fun. “I think we’re going to continue to see the integration aspect grow more and more,” Trinity predicted. “It’s all about simplifying our lives and making things easier. Whether it be home, business, or industrial, technology is working to simply series of events with the push of a button.” This type of “smart integration” technologies allow users to set a standard for a variety of tasks, such as “returning home from vacation”, that prompts your house to start up the water heater, turn on the heated floors, adjust the thermostat, or anything else you may need adapted. Does this type of talk scare or overwhelm you? You’re not alone. Trinity stated that the number one setback in the technology industry is fear, especially in regard to integration. “We get a lot of ‘deer in the headlights’ looks when we tell people they can do all these different things,” Trinity shared. “The reality is that if, when we’re done installing everything, it’s still too difficult or complicated for the client to manage, we didn’t do our job. The technology industry – and us especially

– are all about “simplifying technology”, so that’s what we should be doing.” For Trinity, he doesn’t see the need to create or introduce any kind of new system. Instead, he believes it all boils down to selecting a company that listens to what their clients’ needs are, learns what the client is used to technology-wise, and develops a system based on that. Most importantly, however, technology is meant to be fun. The “push of a button” lifestyle is meant to bring joy and ease into the lives of all who use it and, if it brings anything but that, it is not being used for the right purposes. “Technology is not anything to be feared or intimated by anymore,” Trinity encouraged. “It’s meant to enhance your life, not complicate it. It’s not there for any other reason than to make your life easier.” As you can see, the technology industry is constantly changing and evolving, so staying on top of current trends – and finding what can fit your needs and lifestyle - can be a difficult task. But, if you’re like Trinity, you can work with the hundreds of rising entrepreneurs throughout the state who have become a leading expert in their fields and help simplify, enhance, and bring joy your lives as well as those around you. Congratulations TrinSPIN on your journey to success! To learn more about TrinSPIN and their services, read their success story at www.dakotabusinesslending.com/ trinspin.

Funding Female Founders How Annie Capital is working to help women-owned businesses in the Dakotas


ven though there are more than 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners, female founders are still finding it more difficult to receive funding than their male counterparts. In fact, allraise.org reports that only 15% of venture capital funding is allocated to female founders. That’s where Annie Capital, an investment firm working mostly in the Dakotas, is stepping in to make sure women in our area are getting the help they need to make big things happen.

BY Brady Drake Photos via Annie Capital



Kodee Furst, cofounder and managing partner, started Annie Capital in July of 2018 with founding partners Seth Murphy and Chantel Murphy to invest in the power of women in our region. They’ve accomplished this by partnering with women-owned businesses not only from a funding standpoint but from an education and community development standpoint as well. Furst says that they educate female founders by providing coaching and an outside perspective that allows them to think about the biggest challenges facing their businesses. “Whether it’s connecting the entrepreneur to someone in our network that can provide technical assistance, helping prioritize opportunities or simply being a listening partner, our coaching model is based on the entrepreneur’s needs,” said Furst. The programming is designed to demystify

A panel of leaders share insights at the Growth Summit for Female Founders, part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week, in Fargo .

the process of building a company and strengthen the hard skills needed for growth. “When you think about venture capital or an investment company, you often talk about the size of your portfolio, but what we know to be true is that there’s a lot of impact to be made outside of cutting a check or deploying capital,” said Furst. Part of their goal through education and funding is to help build companies that can be an example for women and to elevate the voices of female founders. “We often hear that it’s hard to be what you can’t see,” said Furst. This goal has taken Furst to a larger stage multiple times with the forward-thinking female founder helping to head the 2019 Women’s Entrepreneurship Week in Fargo. She also spoke in a Senate Roundtable discussion

about the issues, challenges, and barriers that confront women entrepreneurs in the United States in 2019. Both events highlighted a larger need for support as well as problems facing women that Furst says are present in nearly every state for female entrepreneurs. In order to address the nationwide issues, Annie Capital is starting at home. Annie Capital focuses on funding womenowned businesses in our region where Furst believes there is a lot of activity and excitement about entrepreneurship.

Kodee Furst Cofounder and managing partner of Annie Capital.

We’re committed to rural because we all have North Dakota roots and we feel that this should be a place where anyone and everyone can start a company,” said Furst. “We’re very lucky to live somewhere where people are willing to collaborate. We’re all working towards the same goal and that is to positively impact the communities that we serve.”

If you would like to learn more about Annie Capital, visit goannie.com or email Annie Capital at hello@goannie.com.




What do

COMPANIES THAT DEVELOP FORMULAS, DEVICES, ETC. HAVE IN COMMON Hint: The need to protect their trade secrets. By Todd Zimmerman and Abigale Griffin Photos via Fredrikson and Byron

In business, the ability of a company to protect its confidential information can be the difference between success and failure. This confidential information is commonly referred to as trade secrets. Broadly defined a “trade secret” is information not generally known to others that the company uses in order to gain a competitive advantage. 72


Trade secrets are often accessible to employees. In an effort to protect their trade secrets, many employers draft non-compete provisions into their employment contracts in an attempt to prevent employees from leaving the company and competing with the employer. North Dakota, however, is one of a handful of states to have strict laws barring most non-compete provisions in employment contracts. So, what is a North Dakota employer to do when an employee walks out the door, trade secrets in hand? North Dakota has adopted the federal Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which defines a trade secret as (1) Information that (2) derives independent economic value from not being generally known and (3) is the subject to reasonable efforts to be kept a secret. What information is considered a valid trade secret? Information is one component necessary to make a valid trade secret. A trade secret can come in a variety of forms, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process. Contract information, pricing information, business strategies, and customer repair and purchase

histories are not usually trade secrets. Customer lists are typically not trade secrets; but, if a customer list that contains important, non-obvious and specific attributes of the customers may be a trade secret. A trade secret has independent economic value from not being generally known Next, the information must derive independent economic value from not being generally known or readily ascertainable. The independent economic value of a trade secret can be actual or potential. In determining whether information derives independent economic value, courts look at the value the information has to the company and its competitors, and how much effort and money the company expended developing the information. Information is readily ascertainable if it can be accessed by others in the relevant industry through proper means, including a public source or through the product itself. While it is acceptable to have individual elements of a trade secret be in the public domain, the total configuration must be novel and unique.

Subject to reasonable efforts to be kept a secret Lastly, the information must also be subject to reasonable efforts to be kept a secret. Unlike patents and trademarks, trade secrets are not registered with the government. Instead, a trade secret is entitled to protection as long as the information is not available in the public. The efforts to maintain secrecy need only be reasonable under the circumstances and need not be extreme. Tips for protecting your company’s trade secrets Most companies have trade secrets but may not know how to protect them. Here are some tips for protecting your company’s trade secrets: 1.

Identify and mark your company’s trade secrets In order to protect your company’s trade secrets, an employer first must identify what information can qualify as a trade secret. Questions an employer should consider include: • Is the information known outside the company? • Do all employees have access to the information?

Todd Zimmerman Shareholder at Fredrikson & Byron in Fargo; he is a litigator who represents a wide range of businesses and individuals. He can be reached at tzimmerman@ fredlaw.com.

• Are there measures in place to keep the information a secret? • What value does the information have to the company? • What is the potential value of the information for a competitor? • How much effort and/ or money was expended in developing the information? • How difficult would it be for others to acquire or duplicate the information? Any documents containing trade secret information should be labeled as “confidential.” 2.

Abigale Griffin Third-year law student at the University of North Dakota and is currently a law clerk at Fredrikson & Byron.

Have written policies and procedures in place Employers should also have written policies and procedures in place as a method of safeguarding the company’s trade secrets. Employers ought to have all employees sign confidentiality agreements, as well as agree to a company policy that sets out which job positions are authorized to have access to trade secret information. Further, it is recommended that employers require the employees with access to trade secrets to attend training on how to properly

handle the information. Such employees should also acknowledge in writing that they have access to trade secrets and will protect the identity of those trade secrets. 3. Control access to the information Lastly, it is important for employers to control access to the trade secret information. This includes an employer both controlling which people in the company have access to the information and keeping anyone outside the company from accessing the information. Additionally, to diminish the risk of a trade secret being misappropriated, an employer should store the information in a separate location under lock and key.

remedies are available in that situation. Employers may be able to obtain injunctive relief to regain control of the trade secrets and prevent further dissemination. Damages caused by the misappropriation can be recovered, and attorneys’ fees may be assessed against the offending party. Careful and well-thought out actions should be taken with the advice of legal counsel to both limit the risk of misappropriation and quickly address any actual or threatened misappropriation. A company doesn’t have to own a mega-brand to be concerned about protecting its trade secrets. Countless Fargo and North Dakota companies have valuable trade secrets worth protecting.

In summary, before a problem arises, careful consideration should be given to defining and protecting trade secrets. Clear policies and contracts should be drafted, signed, and acknowledged. Even with that, companies often find themselves in the situation where trade secrets have been misappropriated. Several strong and unique FARGOINC.COM



ver the years, I am finding myself relying more and more on different types of technology to enhance and improve both my personal and professional life. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to adopting new technology, I am a slow mover. A very slow mover. If you want further evidence, ask my students! Recently, I shared with my students my two latest technological triumphs, or what I would call technological triumphs, after years of resistance and fighting: 1) My upgrading from a basic cell phone to a smartphone (iPhone) and 2) me switching from cable to streaming. Definitely funny stories indeed, but I’ll save them for another day!

BY Shontarius D. Aikens, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Management at Offutt School of Business at Concordia College 76


As I was thinking about this month’s technology theme for the Fargo INC magazine and as I started preparing to write my article, I began to think about technology and the role it plays in my field of management. During my research, I came across a comment made by Derek Gillette stating that technology in its simplest form helps us to close three gaps: 1) The distance gap (i.e. communication) 2) The knowledge gap (i.e. education) 3) The outcome gap (i.e. performance measures and standards). Within each of these areas, there is point A (current status) and point B (desired status). Technology is a vehicle to get from one point to the other. While the field of management

has evolved over time, the core underlying principle of managing is essentially the same: to accomplish results through other people. The increasing use of technology adds another layer of complexity for managers. This is especially true for some managers who might be resistant to change and the ever increasing role and need for technological integration into work processes. Considering the gap analogies provided earlier, specifically when it comes to the outcome gap, the bottom line is that technology is essential in helping organizations achieve a competitive advantage in the market. Having said that, I think it is equally important to stress the need for being intentional about the purpose or implementation of technology in the workplace, specifically when it comes to daily tasks and work in organizations. While the word technology has broad meaning and implications, I’m referring to


Academic Insight

To see all of Aikens’ sources and references, read the article at fargoinc.com.

technology as an object, a tool, or a set of means to accomplish a task. Below are some insights I’d like to contribute to this conversation for managers to consider: #1: Awareness of technological advances. From a management perspective, a manager should be aware of the general environment or context within which they operate. The general environment consists of various dimensions, one of which includes the technological dimension consisting of “scientific and technological advancements in a specific industry, as well as in society at large.” One way that managers can stay alert is to utilize the younger generation of workers entering the workplace—the millennial generation. Research and statistics are clear that the millennial generation is the most tech savvy and knowledgeable generation and the most comfortable with technology. #2: Effectiveness first, then Efficiency. From a management perspective when considering performance outcomes, the two key things to focus on are effectiveness (achieving a stated goal) and efficiency (the amount of resources used in the process to achieve a stated goal). The issue is to determine if application of technology will help or hurt the situation. In my opinion, Bill Gates has the best comments on the use of technology in this regard: “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.

The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Careful consideration would be on examining and fixing work processes first (effectiveness) before the application of a technological tool (efficiency). #3: Assessing technological training needs beforehand. So, your organization has decided to adopt a new technology. Are existing employees capable of utilizing it right away? What about new employees? Often times, what can be underestimated is the training needs and costs that will be involved with getting existing employees up to speed as well as on-boarding for new employees.

Second, through education and communicationwhich involves showing and illustrating how the new technology will make an employee more productive and make their life easier. Third, using a co-creation approach- which involves including employees on selecting the new technology that will be utilized. Research suggests that any time managers can include employees in the change process, they are more likely to support the change rather than resist it.

#4: Overcoming Resistance. Whenever introducing a new technology in the workplace, there will be resistance. Sources of that resistance come from uncertainty, fear of the unknown, established routines and a lack of understanding and trust. I’ve seen situations where organizations will invest significant time and money on new technology or systems only for it to not be utilized as intended or to not be utilized at all. In order to be intentional and purposeful when it comes to technology integration, three approaches can be considered ahead of time to deal with these resistance factors. •

First, an incremental innovation approach- This simply means introducing changes in small steps or phases over time rather than all at once.

To submit questions you would like answered in future editions of “Academic Insight”.

Email Dr. Aikens at: saikens@cord.edu FARGOINC.COM



Theresa Garrett, Kirsten Henagin & April Stevenson heresa Garrett, Kirsten Henagin, and April Stevenson joined forces in 2019 to form Arise! Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to making the tech industry a more diverse and equitable place. By creating judgment-free, inclusive learning environments, the ladies behind Arise! are helping marginalized groups explore technology in new and meaningful ways.

In a brief summary, what do you do? KH: We believe in a truly inclusive and equitable technology industry, and that belief fundamentally goes back to how we provide education services. It comes back to providing education that’s truly accessible. So we offer a variety of in-person classes targeted to women, people of color, and other marginalized communities to learn new technical skills and build on the ones they already have. What issues do you see in the tech industry today? KH: One of my biggest struggles is when it comes to retaining talent. Our industry is built for white, straight men. And, so even when you have different people that don’t fit that description, companies still try to put everyone into the same box. I don’t think the tech industry has evolved past that. It’s not one-size-fits-all. AS: One thing I frequently hear is people talking about how, “Oh, we’re always hiring for developers. We’re having such a hard time finding developers.” But, they are not even tapping into a resource that is right in front of them. So we are trying to create




(Left to Right) Kirsten Hengagin (Co-Founder, Director of Internal Operations), Theresa Garrett (Co-Founder, Director of Strategic Partnerships) and April Stevenson (CoFounder, Director of Programming)

awareness, to show that there are options out there, there are people to employ who can actually create a really nice product. I feel like once that resource is tapped, it’s better for everybody. It creates a more cohesive team. TG: Companies that hesitate or simply do not address internal issues like lack of allyship, unfair treatment, microaggressions, and unconscious bias that diverse employees experience while working at the company. The tech industry is very comfortable, and when you’re comfortable, you don’t want to get uncomfortable, to tackle hard things. How are you making tech education more accessible in our community? AS: Some of the courses we offer include HTML and CSS, Python, UX/UI, JavaScript, and Cybersecurity. We’re building our 2020 course calendar right now, and the classes will evolve as the need requires. But the first iteration is going to focus on fundamentals, and those classes are going to be short— four to ten hours, it could be every other week for two hours or it could be a Saturday workshop. We like to change it up based on people’s schedules. In the future, we would also like to build tracks so people can build on those skills as they go further along. TG: We’ve noticed a rise in the bootcamp experience, which is great. Those are still really valid experiences and we want people to participate in them, and we’re providing different educational experiences for different types of learners. KH: And the cost associated with our classes comes down to the hours that the

instructor is in front of students. Our HTML and CSS class, which is about eight hours, is $55 for the whole class. And 40 percent of that fee goes straight to the instructor. What is your favorite part of what you do? AS: I am constantly challenged in ways I did not expect and I love it. For a more selfish reason, I wanted to take this on because I really wanted to learn more and challenge myself and explore different aspects of tech. TG: Telling our story to people and partners in the community. What are your dreams for Arise! Communities? KH: I really like our in-person classroom experience, but I want to find a creative solution for us to bring this beyond the Fargo-Moorhead area, whether it’s a webcast or some other sort of digital component. That’s something that’s on our wishlist right now, but we want to really iron out our in-person classes first because those are our bread and butter. TG: For Arise! to be a safe space and pillar in the Fargo-Moorhead community. AS: I want to create a legacy so that, if something were to ever happen to one or all three of us, this would continue to grow and sustain itself.

good use, whether that’s for a scholarship or buying hardware or helping somebody take the classes beyond the classroom. But if you are a person in tech and you care about diversity, inclusion, and equity and you want to see that in your workplace, come volunteer with us. Come teach a class, come help us build a curriculum around something that you think is relevant in the tech industry. Sometimes hardware is an issue—for our classes we want you to bring your own laptop so you can continue working on it at home, but some people may not have one. So if your company has devices that they are not using, we’ll take them. What is the best career advice you have ever received? Or, what’s the best advice you have to offer? AS: Ask yourself, “Why not me? Why can’t I be president? Why can’t I be CEO?” l hear stories from so many successful people who never really planned to be where they are today, so why not? Why can’t I do that? KH: Talk to yourself how you would pump up your best friend. You would never say the crap to your best friend that you say to yourself. TG: Take the first step. You never know what’s going to happen unless you take the first step. Fear is good and being uncomfortable is even better because that means that real growth is happening.

How can the community support you? KH: Of course, one way is financially. If you give us money, we’re going to put it to FARGOINC.COM


BY Adrienne Olson, Kilbourne Group PHOTOS COURTESY OF Kilbourne Group

Emerging Prairie Announces Move to Downtown Fargo’s Historic Black Building on Broadway Rendering of new Emerging Prairie office.


merging Prairie, a non-profit focused on connecting and celebrating the entrepreneurial ecosystem, is growing its roots a little deeper in the tech-hub of downtown Fargo. It is the most recent addition to the new lineup of businesses making their home in the Black Building on Broadway. “The list of those who have arranged for office space in The Black Building reads like a roster of Fargo’s Business and Professional “400.” These are the firms who can’t be kept down, nor believe in hiding their light under a bushel. To them, The Black Building means more than an office in the northwest’s dominant structure. It means the looked-for opportunity for ‘centralizing’ with other firms of high standing for increased profit and prestige.” This November 1930 advertisement in The



Forum captured the excitement of a growing central business district in downtown Fargo and high hopes for the future. The Black Building has served as a tower of commerce in Fargo for 90 years, and today is being overhauled for the next phase of downtown’s growth.

the growth of new projects like Grand Farm and Emerging Digital Academy, and because the Prairie Den is more popular than ever,” said Brian Carroll, Director of Operations for Emerging Prairie. “This move is an indicator that entrepreneurs, startups and downtown Fargo are all flourishing.”

After many businesses relocated to allow for renovation, the Black Building is beginning to fill again. Bobcat is settled into The Studio, their new digital innovation center which occupies a floor and a half, and the flexible office suites on the fifth floor are filling in.

Emerging Prairie has been a significant draw for that talent, through entrepreneurfocused programming like 1 Million Cups on Wednesday mornings, TEDxFargo, and many other events.

This summer, the Black Building will become the new home of Emerging Prairie’s growing headquarters, along with its new Emerging Digital Academy and Fargo’s only coworking space, the Prairie Den. “We’re excited because this move is only necessary due to the success of our events,

Emerging Prairie’s thought leadership and entrepreneurial spirit will be right at home at the Black Building, which is at the center of this regional technology hub. Built in 1930, the Black Building is an eight-story art deco structure born of the merchant George M. Black’s belief in the future of Fargo. T.F. Powers & Co., the construction company called the Black Building its masterpiece. Over

In 2015, Emerging Prairie was featured in a Fortune article titled Inside Fargo, America’s Most Undervalued Tech-Hub, which declared, “In economic terms, what’s happening in Fargo is that a magnetic downtown is attracting and retaining talent.” Emerging Prairie in downtown Fargo.

1930 Black Building advertisement.

the years, it’s been described as a center of activity flooded with merchandise, the pride of Fargoans and a veritable cathedral of business activity.

Emerging Prairie’s desire to be based out of the Black Building is a logical step in its reincarnation as a significant landmark in the heart of Fargo’s central business district. The Black Building is the perfect spot for design and technology companies.

• •

Located in the epicenter of downtown Fargo, the Black Building is adjacent to the new Block 9 plaza (coming late 2020). The building faces Broadway, the most active pedestrian stretch in the state of North Dakota. Team members in the building enjoy access to a rooftop patio, and working within walking distance of 70 retailers, 70 restaurants and bars, multiple art galleries and a wide variety of coffee shops and cafes.

The historically maintained exterior, original exposed structure, and terrazzo floor finish are elements unique to downtown and enhance the modern Class A office atmosphere. The building has a new security system with electronic access at the exterior entrances and elevators, as well as floor-specific access. The building also features an extensive network of surveillance cameras. There are several telecom companies in the building and the new infrastructure makes connecting to a preferred provider convenient and cost efficient. There is conduit for telecommunications to every office suite. The office suites on the fifth floor are fitted up with furniture, internet, WiFi, motion and light sensored lighting, and individual heat pumps for temperature control. The transition to officing out of the Black Building is simple and immediate.

The work of Emerging Prairie is helping Fargo continue to compete at a global level. At just over 8,000 square feet, its new home in the Black Building will showcase the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem of our region. “Fargo is a community filled with incredible folks, and the world is watching,” said Greg Tehven, Executive Director of Emerging Prairie. “Downtown is a competitive advantage for companies that want their teammates to love where they work. There’s an energy. There’s a vibe. There’s an edge. Being in downtown provides an opportunity for people to build relationships and friendships and to have the spirit of possibility.”



“Sales” is not a Dirty Word By Zach Olson | Photo by Hillary Ehlen Zach Olson, a Sales Executive with Spotlight, graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a Business Administration degree and is certified by 360 Ad Sales Training.

Everyone sells, whether you realize it or not. A lawyer has to sell a judge and jury on the merits of a case, and a charity needs to sell its cause to potential donors or it won’t have anything to give. Yet, “sales” is often seen as a dirty word because of a stigma that a salesperson’s only goal is to make money at the expense of the customer. However, sales is not a dirty word, it is a study of problem-solving and providing solutions to customers’ needs. As a young sales executive I have a unique view on how the sales landscape is changing, and how businesses can embrace the change and thrive. In my role, I work with hundreds of local and national businesses to help them uncover the best way of sharing their message. To do this I use a number of tools. Here are my five favorites:


LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Everyone knows what LinkedIn is, but not everyone uses it to its full potential. In a world where you are one connection away from your next opportunity (or sale), it is great to have a network like the one you can develop on LinkedIn. This tech allows you to be a few clicks away from a potential lead. In one space you can learn about a business, find the decision-makers and reach out with potential solutions. HubSpot Sales: If you are going to have tools you need a tool chest. I view HubSpot as my tool chest. I use this tech for Customer Relationship Management. It is a space where I can keep information on my customers and learn the best way to work with them. I can have contacts, leave notes, set follow-ups and more! Salesgenie: If you want leads and you want leads based on certain demographics, this might be the best piece of tech for you. Salesgenie has information for more than 25 million businesses with new names added weekly. This tool allows you to find groups or niches that you can present your leads to. Hunter io: This tech allows you to find the email address behind any website. This will save you time and allow you to get the information to the right person without having to struggle to connect. Hunter io also verifies any email address. Gmass: Gmass is our favorite tool for sending and tracking smart emails. Gmass has changed the way I email. This software allows users to personalize and schedule emails while tracking opens, clicks, and unique clicks. Gmass also allows users to create email lists based on search results and set automatic follow-ups! This tool helps to reach large audiences while keeping each email unique using the “Tokens” tool that allows each name to be pulled from your email so every email is personalized.




Fargo & Moorhead Events

FEBRUARY 18 Chamber 101: Connect. Engage. Maximize. Tuesday, February 18 from 4 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

If you’re not familiar with The Chamber, are a new member, new contact, new hire, or just want to re-engage with them, this session is for you! Chamber 101 is a laid-back discussion designed to share some of the great benefits of Chamber membership and what opportunities exist that you need to know. No need to dress in business attire; you are welcome you to come as you are! fmwfchamber.com The Chamber Office 202 First Ave. N., Moorhead

FEBRUARY 12 How To Adapt During Organizational Change

Wednesday, February 12 from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Join the Chamber at this annual event that brings our community together to ask questions of our local city’s leaders and talk about our region’s growth, goals and priorities. Where are we headed? What challenges do we face and what successes can we celebrate? We will have our local mayors representing their cities to provide updates, including Mayor Bernie Dardis in West Fargo, Mayor Johnathan Judd in Moorhead, Mayor Tim Mahoney in Fargo and Dilworth Mayor Chad Olson. Don’t miss out on this community-wide conversation. fmwfchamber.com Delta by Marriott

Lunch & Learn: The Perfect Pitch Wednesday, February 12 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

At this Lunch & Learn, you’ll hear from professionals who have mastered the art of pitching. You’ll learn what information potential funders are looking for and how to be concise and persuasive. emergingprairie.com Prairie Den 122 1/2 N. Broadway, Fargo

FEBRUARY 19 Lunch and Learn: Leading Wellness

Wednesday, February 19 from 11:30 a.m. 1 p.m.

Learn how leaders can create a strong wellness culture in their places of employment, and take back to your workplace tangible ways to encourage wellness in your organization. thevillagefamily.org 2701 12th Ave. S., Fargo

1635 42nd St. SW., Fargo FARGOINC.COM




Fargo & Moorhead Events

FEBRUARY 27 Women’s Role in Leadership: What Men and Women Need to Pay Attention to Thursday, February 27 from 3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.

In this #MeToo era, it can be difficult to understand how to navigate for female and male leaders. What is acceptable? What is unacceptable? How do you foster an open environment without crossing a line? And why does it matter? fmwfchamber.com Delta by Marriott 1635 42nd St. S, Fargo

FEBRUARY 20 Chamber 101: Connect. Engage. Maximize.

Thursday, February 20 from 9 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

If you’re not familiar with The Chamber, are a new member, new contact, new hire, or just want to re-engage with them, this session is for you! Chamber 101 is a laid-back discussion designed to share some of the great benefits of Chamber membership and what opportunities exist that you need to know. No need to dress in business attire; you are welcome to come as you are! fmwfchamber.com The Chamber Office 202 First Ave. N., Moorhead

Economic Outlook Forum

Thursday, February 20 from 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Join The Chamber for the 2020 Economic Outlook Forum, where they examine global, national and local economic trends and how they relate to the business community. Last year’s popular keynote speaker, Rich Karlgaard, Publisher and Futurist, Forbes Media, returns for a talk on “Tech, Trade, Turbulence and the 2020 Elections.” fmwfchamber.com Delta by Marriott 1635 42nd St. S., Fargo

MARCH 11 The Normalization of Deviance: How Workplaces Can Avoid Deceit Wednesday, March 11 from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Have our actions over time actually increased the risk of fraud? This session takes a look at workplace fraud from a different perspective. Brett Johnson will lead a theory-based presentation with an overview of the small behaviors we accept, ignore and allow in the workplace that can lead to larger issues, including various forms of fraud. Attendees will be able to reflect on their own workplaces and explore any gray areas that are unintentionally creating an environment that increases the risk of deviant behavior. fmwfchamber.com DoubleTree by Hilton 825 E. Beaton Dr., West Fargo





Grand Forks FEBRUARY 13

Planting The Seed

Giving Hearts Day YMCA

The Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC’s Agricultural Committee is excited to collaborate with Capitol Credit Union in hosting their informative luncheon, Planting the Seed: The Financial Impact of Agriculture. business.bismarckmandan.com/events Capitol Credit Union

Your contribution helps youth, adults and families in your community participate in programs and services at the Y through our Partner of Youth financial scholarship assistance program, including swim lessons, youth sports, child care, memberships and more. With your contribution of $10 or more, matching funds from the Dakota Medical Foundation will multiply the impact of your giving. gochamber.org Altru Family YMCA

Tuesday, February 18 from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

204 W. Thayer Ave., Bismarck

FEBRUARY 20 Membership Mixer: EMC Insurance Companies

Thursday, February 20 from 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Join fellow Chamber EDC members for refreshments, hors d’oeuvres, and some business after hours. Mixers are FREE for Chamber EDC members to attend. Please consider attending and bringing colleagues from your workplace. business.bismarckmandan.com/events EMC Insurance Companies 1838 Interstate Ave., Bismarck

MARCH 4 Leading Ladies Luncheon

Wednesday, March 4 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

The North Dakota Women’s Business Center is celebrating Women’s History Month with a panel that features five of North Dakota’s leading ladies. Join them to learn from, connect with, and be inspired by this network of visionary women. ndwbc.com Ramkota 800 S. 3rd St., Bismarck

Thursday, February 13

215 N. 7th St., Grand Forks

Networking Social Supporting MyAlly Health

Thursday, February 13 from 4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Join the Greater Grand Forks Women’s Leadership Cooperative for their February networking social. Their bi-monthly social will feature information about a nonprofit organization. Members are invited to bring an item of need, as requested in advance by the nonprofit, to the social. All items will be donated to the nonprofit at the conclusion of the evening. ggfwlc.com Ramada by Wyndham 1205 N. 43rd St., Grand Forks

Hands On Cooking Classes for All Skill Levels

Offering private & public cooking classes

Accommodating groups from 6 to 25

February Classes 2/15 Lobster Dinner with Your Valentine 2/20 Enchiladas 2/25 Cheese 101

for Perfect am or te parties g! buildin

FEBRUARY 19 Uncovering Leadership Blind Spots

Wednesday, February 19 from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

The Global Business Brief Will Help you • Identify which leadership trends from our research may be impacting your organization • Learn how your leaders can drive retention and satisfaction • Uncover common leadership blind spots that may be undermining your corporate culture’ • Start to identify your organization’s leadership performance gaps gochamber.org The Chamber Board Room 202 North 3rd Street, Grand Forks


squareonekitchens.com 1407 1st Ave. N, Fargo FARGOINC.COM


ARE YOUR COMPANY’S CREDENTIALS FOR SALE ON THE DARK WEB? The Dark Web is made up of digital communities that sit on top of the Internet. A cyber breach can happen when employees are using their work credentials on third party sites.

What can you do to protect your business? Give us a call, we can monitor your organization and find cyber breaches right away to protect your information and clients’ information.


MinnDak Computer Services 1854 NDSU Research Circle N | Fargo, ND FargoIT.com | darkweb@fargoit.com



of hacking-related breaches leverage either stolen and/or weak passwords



of SMBs will go out of business within 6 months of a cyber incident



of cyber attacks are on SMBs


CALENDAR Minot & Wahpeton Events FEBRUARY 19 Coffee with the President

Wednesday, February 19 from 1:30 p.m. - 3:57 p.m.

Stop and visit with Chamber President, John MacMartin, on topics interesting to you. minotchamber.org Chamber Office 1020 20th Ave. SW., Minot

FEBRUARY 19 Business After Hours Wednesday, February 19 5 p.m.

Come to February Business After Hours as BeMobile hosts. Enjoy delicious food, great networking with other Chamber members and a chance to win some prizes. minotchamber.org BeMobile 305 20th Ave. SW. #2, Minot




Helping Our City How Gate City Bank is helping out the Fargo Moorhead community on Giving Hearts Day. By Brady Drake Photo by Hilary Ehlen

Amanda Torok, Senior Vice President of Culture What do you do to give back on Giving Hearts Day? Gate City Bank has been partnering with Giving Hearts Day for six years and this year we’re giving away over $250,000! Our vision throughout our partnership has been to create a fun and engaging contest where our customers and community members get to choose which charities the Bank donates to on Giving Hearts Day. This year, we plan to keep our tradition going with our annual nomination contest where anyone can nominate their favorite Giving Hearts Day charities as often as they want for a chance to win a $2,500 donation. Thirty lucky charities each win $2,500 on Giving Hearts Day.

Why is Giving Hearts Day important to Gate City Bank? Giving Hearts Day provides a great opportunity for our customers, communities

and team members to come together to support the charities that make our communities great. It’s easy to find a charity to love with so many Giving Hearts Day participants to choose from, and they make it fun to give back. Gate City Bank enjoys making an impact in our communities every day throughout the year, but we especially enjoy celebrating the region’s biggest day of giving each year. Everyone joins together across our region for the same goal, to make a difference for the charities that make an impact in our community and it’s a great feeling.

How are employees at Gate City Bank encouraged to get involved in the community? Making a difference in our communities is a standard we live by at Gate City Bank. Supporting our team members and the charities they are passionate about has

Gate City Bank has been a Fargo mainstay since 1923 and they continue to make an impact in our community every Giving Hearts Day. We sat down with Senior Vice President of Culture, Amanda Torok, to learn more about how Gate City Bank makes a big impact on our community on Giving Hearts Day.

always been important to us. Throughout the year, our team members are encouraged to volunteer and are able to volunteer an unlimited amount on company time. Gate City Bank also matches their volunteer hours and monetary gifts with a donation. We also offer the opportunity for team members to embark on a longer leave for mission work or disaster outreach and help pay for their expenses and provide paid time away. By offering a variety of ways for team members to give back, each person can live out their passion to help make a difference. Since 2003, our team members have volunteered over 222,000 hours.

volunteer time leading up to Giving Hearts Day with a donation. And on Giving Hearts Day, we automatically match their online donations. The fun doesn’t stop there, we’ve been known to surprise charities on Giving Hearts Day with our Gate City Bank boost donations which have ranged from $5,000 to $15,000 in the past. You’ll have to wait and see what fun surprises we come up with this year!

What does Gate City Bank have planned for this year’s Giving Hearts Day? Our excitement for Giving Hearts Day and engaging our community and team members continues to grow each year. Not only do we host our nomination contest each year, but we also match our team members’




Angel’s Work How Giving Hearts Day ambassador Angel Evenson is working to make an impact in our community. By Brady Drake Photo by Hilary Ehlen

Angel Evenson, Giving Heart’s Day Ambassador. How did you originally get involved with Giving Hearts Day?

How is your business involved?

Amber Dekrey and I met at a mutual friend’s home - our incredible Fargo Public Schools Superintendent, Rupak Gandhi. We got to chatting about what we do and her passion for giving back to the community through the Dakota Medical Foundation and we connected immediately. We reconnected at Fargo Rotary and I immediately jumped on board as an ambassador.

Angel’s Keen Angels revolves around supporting for-profit and nonprofit businesses and Giving Hearts Day was an exciting no brainer for me. After serving on the board of a few non-profits in town and still supporting them financially, I saw this as an opportunity for my business to have a positive impact in a community that has done so much for me.

What does it mean to be a Giving Hearts Day ambassador?

Can you tell me about the classroom sponsorship?

Becoming a Giving Hearts Day ambassador was an honor and a way for me to do what I can to help organizations that serve our community. Typically these organizations don’t always want or receive the recognition they deserve and this is an opportunity for me to support them. If I can somehow create a positive ripple effect, I want to!



My husband, Eric Evenson, a former administrator, current teacher and candidate for the Fargo Public School board this summer and I love positively impacting and educating youth as much as we can. Classroom sponsorship for Giving Hearts Day was an exciting opportunity for us to partner together where he can create a fun environment within his classes where his students get to compete for gift cards and then the winners

We sat down with Angel Evenson, owner of Angel’s Keen Angels and Giving Hearts Day Ambassador, to learn more about why she is sponsoring a classroom and setting up an event to raise money for a nonprofit on Giving Hearts Day.

donate them to the organization of their choice. Angel’s Keen Angels is honored to sponsor his classroom and I’m so excited for his students to have an opportunity to research and invest in a non-profit that is close to their hearts.

What does Giving Hearts Day mean to you? It is hard to sum up what giving hearts day means to me. I was exposed to the non-profit world as a child through a family that financially invested in them. It wasn’t until I was an adult and serving on the board of a local non-profit, Legacy Children’s Foundation, that I saw the unbelievable commitment it takes to start, build and grow something of such impact. Nonprofits, like any business, develop out of identifying a need and wanting to fill it. The people that run them, work in them and push their mission forward are unlike any people I have ever met and it is an absolute honor to support them in any way I can.

How do you see Giving Hearts Day making an impact in the community? It is a day of love, support and mission! For one whole day, we as a community get to focus on all the good that is happening in our community. We get to hear stories of the organizations creating change and have the opportunity to financially support that continued change.

Profile for Spotlight

Fargo INC! February 2020  

It is important for your business to stay as efficient as possible in order to keep up with the fast-paced business world we live in. The be...

Fargo INC! February 2020  

It is important for your business to stay as efficient as possible in order to keep up with the fast-paced business world we live in. The be...