Page 1

December 2012

Plains Software Pioneer

Burgum continues to invest in technology and real estate development

pg. 36


40 Under 40 The region's top business professionals under the age of 40

pg. 26

Making a Difference Engineers Without Borders group improves infrastructure in Guatemala village

pg. 40

|INSIDE| December 2012 VOL 13 ISSUE 12



Snapshots of success 8 Business Advice BY MATTHEW D. MOHR

Timely financial reports indicate health of business 10 Finance BY JIM STAI

Venture capital for rural small businesses 12 Research & Technology BY DWAINE CHAPEL

Collaborative research enables new innovations 14 Economic Development BY HAROLD STANISLAWSKI

26 36

Career readiness certificate helps identify qualified employees

40 UNDER 40

Immense Inspiration

16 Prairie News

Prairie Business magazine's selections for the region's Top 40 business professionals under the age of 40

20 Prairie People 24 Business Development Bakken businesses follow workers


Proving Success on the Plains

40 Red River Valley Making a difference

Software entrepreneur Doug Burgum continues to set the pace for innovation and leadership in the business community

42 South Dakota Former landfill has green future 44 Western North Dakota Gate City Bank gives big to housing fund 46 Energy 50 By the numbers 53 Business to Business

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On the Cover Doug Burgum leads a venture capital fund and real estate development firm. PHOTO: JOHN BROSE

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Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

January's issue of Prairie Business magazine explores the region's diverse energy resources. Feature articles will discuss proposed uses for the growing abundance of natural gas in the Bakken region and the health of the wind industry. We'll also take a look at the region's growth in exports from multiple sectors and the impact exports have on local economies.


Snapshots of success orking on this issue of the magazine has been an inspiring experience. This month we highlight the Top 40 under 40 business professionals in our area. After having read through the applications, it’s clear our region possesses an enormous amount of talented people. I have no doubt we will be hearing a lot more from our selected recipients over the coming years. These recipients offer a snapshot of the varied industries represented in the northern Plains and the fantastic individuals whose accomplishments exemplify the region’s widespread philosophy that with a little hard work and dedication, anyone can become successful in their chosen field. I hope that when you read through the selections you will be as inspired and impressed as we were. This month’s issue also includes a profile of one of the Great Plains’ most well-known entrepreneurs, Doug Burgum. He was in his 20s when he became involved with Great Plains Software in 1983 and surely would have been at the top of our 40 under 40 list had the magazine existed at the time. Alas, we were a little too late. But his continued support of the Great Plains region, whether through investments in downtown redevelopment projects, exciting start-up ventures or philanthropic contributions to enhance youth education, is playing a vital role in shaping the future of the Great Plains business scene. When I asked Burgum to offer advice to this year’s 40 under 40 recipients, he referred back to Great Plains’ Four C’s — courage, caring, commitment and community. He suggested that young business people should retain an element of courage (otherwise known as a willingness to take risk), care about their team members and investors, remain committed to their project/company and keep in mind its potential impact on the greater community. He noted that Great Plains was sometimes mischaracterized as an overnight success after it went public, when in fact the company’s team had spent years overcoming obstacles and skeptics. “Nobody was writing about the long nights and the slogging away and the years that we lost money in the 1980s,” he told me. “If you’re going to be successful, things may be worse before they get better, but companies get defined on how they handle adversity as opposed to how they handle success.” The most successful leaders, Burgum included, often emphasize creativity and curiosity as two desirable qualities that are inherently displayed in youth but are often devalued in the grown-up world. I had a great reminder of this one evening when my 7-year-old son wandered into my office and asked what I was working on. The Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity had recently been announced as the new location for Fargo Public Schools art studio learning trips, so I said the article I was writing was about the person who made the art studio possible. “How did he do that?” “Because he’s smart.” My son considered that for a moment before asking, “Well if he’s so smart, could you ask him how to make gecko feet? Because I really want to climb the walls and I haven’t been able to figure out how to make shoes that are like gecko feet.” I’m sharing this story with you because it’s a great example of the ideas that stem from the raw curiosity and creativity children possess and that the business world could use more of. As we celebrate this year’s top business people under the age of 40, it’s also a good reminder to keep an eye on the future and the nextnext generation of leaders. They are creative and curious and with the right amount of encouragement and commitment on our part, they will serve our region well. In the meantime, Doug, I await your call on the gecko feet thing.




Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

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Timely financial reports indicate health of business BY MATTHEW D. MOHR he speed at which a business produces year-end financial statements is a good indication of the strength of the enterprise and the quality of its financial reporting. Preliminary financial reports should be available within 21 days. Relatively accurate initial reports should take no less than four weeks to produce. Usable, reliable statements should take no longer than six weeks. If reliable financial reports are not available within the time frames mentioned above, it’s a good indication the financial reporting systems are not very good or that the reports may misrepresent the true business results. Fast, accurate financial reports show strength. Slow financial reports are an indication of poor business practices and may be an indication of potential fraud. Two businesses I was involved with in the past were owned and operated by individuals who, in retrospect, clearly misrepresented their business and cheated those who provided funding to the enterprise. After funds were


provided based on what we thought were accurate financial statements, operating statements became quite scarce and hard to get. Both businesses failed after a short time and left little to nothing for their creditors or stockholders. As businesses face trouble, operators often purposely delay accounting results. The area’s Angel Funds deal with many new enterprises and push very hard to get accurate reports. The best run enterprises are the ones which provide the best reports. This year, when the books are closed, if the financial reports take less time than last year or are quick to be completed accurately, the numbers most likely indicate a successful year. Certainly, odd things can happen and delay financial reporting, but in general a well-run enterprise has timely and accurate financial statements. PB Matthew D. Mohr CEO, Dacotah Paper Co.



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Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

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Venture capital for rural small businesses BY JIM STAI

enture capital has stimulated rapid economic growth in many urban regions of the country. At the same time, the lack of access to equity capital is a constraint to the economic growth of most rural areas. According to the Federal Reserve, rural counties hold 19.2 percent of all U.S. business establishments, yet only 1.6 percent of all venture capital investments. Rural areas often do not possess the support networks among local venture capital funds, investment bankers, and other financial and legal experts to stimulate deal flow. There is also an emphasis among potential investors to gravitate toward urban areas where the perceived return-on-investments are higher and operating costs are minimized. Furthermore, there tends to be a lack of understanding among rural-based companies on how equity investment works.


Total Venture Capital Investment in 2011 for the Upper Plains Region



Total Invested Venture Capital $

National Ranking

Per Capita Venture Capital $ by State




North Dakota




South Dakota




Source: State Science and Technology Institute

Each state has its own particular venture capital environment that small businesses should investigate. This milieu includes private, national and state government, foundation, and community development venture capital networks. Many funds work in partnership combining public and private equity investment and


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

operating support. Often, rural firms need to seek these funds out because overt marketing to isolated areas is not necessarily a common practice. If you’re a rural small business owner looking for an investor, here are three tips for finding and attracting the right investors, courtesy of Small Business Administration community moderator Caron Beesley.

Understand Types of Investments The term “venture capital� is often used in conversation to mean money invested by a third-party in high-growth startups. However, there are several types of investors with slightly different approaches. Private equity covers a number of investment types that are usually made by private individuals or privately owned institutions. The money can be used to purchase a company, fund a project, or make a straightout private investment. Venture capital is also a form of private equity, but is managed differently and is usually designed to fund startup companies that have the potential for high growth, such as technology companies. Venture capitalists not only provide money, but also business planning expertise and assistance to help startups succeed in its industry. Angel investors are high-net worth individual investors (usually former entrepreneurs) who seek high returns through private investments in startup companies. They provide similar startup financing as venture capitalists but usually in smaller amounts.

Government Venture Capital Programs Another venture capital option you may wish to consider is the Small Business Investment Company

program, available through the SBA. SBICs are privately owned and managed investment funds, licensed and regulated by SBA, which use their own capital plus funds borrowed with an SBA guarantee to make equity and debt investments in qualifying small businesses. Since October 2011, SBA has helped put more than $400 million in investment capital directly into the hands of high-growth rural businesses through the SBIC program. SBICs in North Dakota and Minnesota can be viewed at Currently, South Dakota does not host a SBIC.

The right products for the job

Finding Potential Investors If you have a good network there’s a strong likelihood you can pinpoint potential investors via this route, so start locally and branch out from there. Potential resources include: • Business community – If you are involved in a local Chamber of Commerce or other small business group, start there. Small business development centers may also be able to introduce you to local investors. • Trade associations – Most industries are represented by a trade association. National and local investing and venture capital groups such as the National Venture Capital Association and the Angel Capital Association could also be a source of opportunity. • State economic development agency – State and local economic development agencies may be able to help refer you to investors in your region. Finding venture capital in rural areas can be challenging, but the resources are out there. Learn what’s available and begin to ask questions — you will find the answers. PB

Jim Stai District Director, North Dakota SBA

Answers you can trust - From people who care




Collaborative research enables new innovations BY DWAINE CHAPEL

ommercialization of innovation is a key economic component for local, regional and national growth. At South Dakota State University, the College of Engineering is strategically developing its role to assist growth within its own parameters and providing cross disciplinary assistance to the research community as a whole. “We are optimistic about the future of research in the College of Engineering,” says Dennis Helder, associate dean for research at the college. “We continue to pursue research that leverages our strengths, cultivates new opportunities, attracts strong students to our graduate programs, and fosters partnerships with the private sector.” The College of Engineering recently dedicated a new and expanded facility on SDSU’s campus focused on physics, electrical engineering and computer science. The building, named Daktronics Engineering Hall, was completed in two phases. Phase I was dedicated in spring 2009. Phase II comprised the west addition of the building and was recently completed. The state Board of Regents approved the name of the building in recognition of more than $5 million in gifts received from Daktronics Inc. and its top officers, Brookings residents Jim Morgan, Al Kurtenbach and Duane Sander. The facility encompasses approximately 80,000 square feet, more than 30,000 square feet of which is dedicated to research. The space is essential to creating growth opportunities that lead to commercialized applied research. There are a number of key areas of research



Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

under way in the new facility. The critical support team provides assistance to the entire research community on campus for mathematical and statistical analyses, computational science, predictive analytics and bioinformatics. The photovoltaics team focuses on developing, delivering and promoting solar energy. The team is proficient in solar cell efficiency and systems integration. Research focuses on nanoscale devices as well as entire renewable energy systems. The convergent computing team is an international consortium with research focusing on early detection of breast cancer. The team is developing a microwave tomography imaging. In addition, the College of Engineering offers a materials evaluation and testing lab (METLAB). The METLAB offers a plethora of services to the private sector utilizing state-of-the-art testing equipment and processes. This is an interactive opportunity for industry, faculty and students to learn and work together, providing a positive path to industry and university collaboration, which can lead to new innovation. These are only a few of the research opportunities currently in progress within the College of Engineering. The overall strategy being implemented by the College of Engineering is essential to the enhancement of new innovative opportunities within the research community. PB Dwaine Chapel Executive director South Dakota State University Innovation Campus 605-696-5600,

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Career readiness certificate helps identify qualified employees BY HAROLD STANISLAWSKI

inding qualified employees can be a challenge, but workforce centers in west-central Minnesota have recently embarked on the process of utilizing a tool called the National Career Readiness Certificate which could help confront that challenge. The problem many employers face is not finding applicants. The problem is finding qualified applicants. The National Career Readiness Certificate, issued by ACT, is a work-skills credential that proves an individual is work-ready and possesses the skills your business needs. Recently, our region of Minnesota implemented the NCRC program as a way to improve success for employers and potential new employees in the hiring process. Participants earn the certificate by completing three of ACT’s world-renowned WorkKeys assessments: Reading for information, applied mathematics and locating information. The reading for information assessment measures the candidate’s ability to read and understand work-related documents such as policies, notices and directions. Applied mathematics measures reasoning, problem solving and critical thinking abilities related to work-related problems. The locating information assessment measures the individual’s ability to analyze and apply information found on common workplace graphics, such as forms, spreadsheets, graphics and maps. Upon completion of the assessment process, participants are awarded one of four levels of cer-



Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

tification based on individual WorkKeys scores. They are: • Bronze – Proven skills needed for 16 percent of jobs. Potential jobs include cashier, file clerk or home health aide. • Silver – Proven skills needed for 67 percent of jobs. Job examples include dental assistant, machinist or truck driver. • Gold – Proven skills needed for 93 percent of jobs. Examples include electrician, paramedic or graphic designer. • Platinum – Proven skills needed for 99 percent of jobs. Examples include engineer, pharmacist or network systems analyst. Our region is already engaged with this program and we are finding it useful because it identifies applicants who will be most successful in the job, reduces the time spent on pre-hiring procedures and reduces the cost of hiring. Employers who have used this program say that it has lead to better results in attendance, reduced turnover, better productivity, and in the end an increased return on investment. More information on the National Career Readiness Certificate can be obtained from your local workforce office’s business services specialist. PB Harold Stanislawski Executive director, Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission


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Prairie News

Industry News & Trends

Wheat straw plant establishes in Devils Lake

Ultra Green Inc. will manufacture eco-friendly products using locally sourced wheat straw at its Devils Lake, N.D., plant. IMAGE: ULTRA GREEN INC.

St. Alexius joins Mayo Clinic Care Network Bismarck, N.D.-based St. Alexius Medical Center has joined the year-old Mayo Clinic Care Network. As part of the network, physicians at St. Alexius can connect with Mayo Clinic specialists on questions of patient care using an electronic consulting technique known as eConsults and will have access to Mayo-vetted information through the AskMayoExpert database. St. Alexius serves residents of central and western North Dakota, northern South Dakota and eastern Montana. Aside from its main campus in Bismarck, the organization owns and operates hospitals and clinics in Garrison and Turtle Lake, a primary care clinic in Mandan, and specialty and primary care clinics in Minot, N.D. It also manages the hospital and clinics owned by Mobridge Regional Hospital in Mobridge, S.D. St. Alexius is the first medical center in western North Dakota to become a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network.

ND e-retailer recognized for rapid growth, an online retailer of truck accessories based in Jamestown and Fargo, N.D., has recently been named to Internet Retailer


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

Ultra Green Inc. has established a wheat straw pulp manufacturing and molding facility in Devils Lake, N.D. The company will source local wheat straw to produce eco-friendly products such as pizza pans, serving ware, plates and bake ware at the facility. “We are extremely excited to bring manufacturing jobs to Devils Lake, and be the first company in the U.S. to manufacture biodegradable, compostable and sustainable bakeable food service products made from wheat straw,” Ultra Green CEO Mack Traynor said in a statement. The company plans to hire more than 100 people during its first year of operation. Devils Lake’s close proximity to abundant wheat straw, adequate water supply and positive economic development environment contributed to Ultra Green’s decision to choose the town for its manufacturing plant, according Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson. The company received an economic development grant to establish its plant in Devils Lake.

Magazine’s Mobile 400 Guide. The research publication ranks the largest and fastest-growing mobile e-commerce sites of U.S. companies. was featured at number 245. received the No.1 ranking. Land’s End was ranked 247. Since launching the dedicated mobile site in 2011, has experienced a 142 percent increase in mobile sales, according to the company. Total projected sales for 2012 are expected to reach $20 million, with mobile sales accounting for $1.2 million.

Bemidji receives branding strategy grant The Northwest Minnesota Foundation recently awarded Greater Bemidji, Minn., a $16,500 grant to complete a competitive advantage assessment and branding strategy. Greater Bemidji serves as the economic development agency for the area. The grant project will address three goals: research and analysis to determine a common theme and establish the unique identity of Bemidji, brand development and marketing and communications. Headwaters Regional Development Commission and Greater Bemidji staff will lead the project.

Minot Area Development Corp. receives excellence award The Minot (N.D.) Area Development Corp. recently received the Silver Excellence in Economic Development award from the International Economic Development Council for its Great Plains Energy Park. The award was presented during the IEDC annual conference in recognition of MADC’s work in creating innovative and successful strategies to promote economic development. The Great Plains Energy Park is an oil center servicing the Bakken region. Between 2008 and 2011, a $3.5 million investment for public infrastructure leveraged more than $300 million in capital investment and created more than 500 jobs. Project partners include the City of Minot, Ward County, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the Port of North Dakota and Souris Basin Planning Council. A second energy park is in early planning stages.

Nor-Son adds Sioux Falls office Nor-Son Inc., an integrated consulting, design and construction services firm specializing in the home, hospitality, healthcare and commer-

|PRAIRIE NEWS| cial sectors, has added an office in Sioux Falls, S.D., making it the firm’s first location in the state. Bob Kogel has joined the firm as project development manager and serves as the main contact for the Sioux Falls office. Nor-Son was founded in 1978 and has offices in Baxter and Minneapolis-St. Paul and Fargo, N.D.

Microsoft receives LEED-Gold certification Microsoft’s most recently constructed building on its Fargo, N.D., campus recently earned a LEED-Gold certification. It is the first building in Fargo to receive the environmentally friendly honor and the fifth building statewide. Additionally, the campus’s cafeteria has been designated a 3 Star Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association, making it the only Certified Green Restaurant in the state. Microsoft announced an aggressive companywide goal earlier this year to become carbon neutral during fiscal year 2013 by introducing an internal carbon fee to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy utilization. In addition to the efficiency improvements already implemented on campus, Fargo’s cafeteria is being used as a global pilot to test additional practices, such as using real china and silverware rather than compostable products.

John Deere Electronic Solutions expands Fargo operations John Deere Electronic Solutions held a grand opening event Oct. 9 for its new 90,000 square foot facility in Fargo, N.D. The $22 million building will provide space for an expanding engineering staff, product design and verification laboratories, according to the company. It will also include space for power electronics manufacturing. John Deere Electronics Solutions currently employs more than 1,000 people in the Fargo area.

Arvig Enterprises acquires All State Communications Arvig Enterprises, a full-service telecommunications provider, has agreed to acquire


|PRAIRIE NEWS| Sauk Rapids, Minn.-based All State Communications. The company will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Arvig Enterprises and will retain all current staff. All State Communications provides services that support voice and data network applications, including design and installation of all types of communications, and brings extensive experience and expertise to Arvig, allowing Arvig Enterprises to become a turnkey telecommunications provider, according to the company.

U of M, Crookston gets grant to promote entrepreneurialism The Bremer Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the University of Minnesota, Crookston to extend entrepreneurial assistance services and programming in northwestern Minnesota. The two-year grant will be used to support CRES services as well as to develop entrepreneurial awareness among high school and U of M, Crookston students. The center’s goals for the next two years include entrepreneurial and small business con-

sulting, community education and outreach to facilitate entrepreneurial networking and the dissemination of rural entrepreneurship research, according to the center.

NetWork Center hosts technology showcase Technology product and services provider NetWork Center Inc. is hosting a technology showcase Dec. 12 at the Holiday Inn in Fargo. The event will offer attendees information on emerging technology innovations from several industry leaders, including Microsoft, IBM and Cisco. Topics covered will include an outlook for technology trends in 2013, the effect of technology on data centers and improving customer service through mobility.

Huddle House restaurant chain expands to the Dakotas Huddle House Inc., a full-service family restaurant chain with more than 400 units across the U.S., has opened its first location in the Dakotas in Fargo, N.D. A company representative said the Fargo location will serve as a hub for

A $1.8 million health center currently under construction in De Smet, S.D., shown here in an artist rendering, will significantly expand the region's health care capabilities when complete in 2013. IMAGE: HORIZON HEALTH CARE INC.

Horizon Health Care breaks ground in De Smet Horizon Health Care Inc. has begun building a $1.8 million, 9,500 square foot community health center and dental clinic in De Smet, S.D. The facility will include six dental operatories, six medical exam rooms, office space and reception and waiting areas. The new facility will replace space currently utilized by Horizon that is needed by the local hospital. The new, much larger facility will also expand Horizon’s ability to serve patients. Funding for the project is being provided primarily by a $1.04 million capital development grant awarded to Horizon earlier this year through the Affordable Care Act. Jans Corp. will serve as the construction manager for the project. RS Architects is the project architect and Associated Consulting Engineering Inc. has been selected as the project engineer. The facility is expected to begin serving patients in May 2013.


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

growth across the state as the company works to add eight additional locations throughout North Dakota. The brand is also seeking expansion opportunities in South Dakota and anticipates opening five to seven units there within the next five years. Huddle House expects to open more than 100 new locations nationwide in the next five years.

Raven Industries supplies balloon for space jump Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Raven Industries Inc., through its Aerostar Division, was responsible for manufacturing the high-altitude research balloon used by Felix Baumgartner during his recent record-setting Red Bull Stratos mission. The helium-filled balloon lifted Baumgartner to an altitude of 128,000 feet on Oct. 14 before he successfully completed a more than 9-minute jump back to Earth, traveling at an estimated speed of 833.9 miles per hour. The Raven balloon used for Baumgarten’s mission measured 425 feet in diameter when fully inflated and weighed 3,708 pounds. It is a zeropressure balloon manufactured from high strength polyethylene.

KLJ engineering firm celebrates 75 years Bismarck-based Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson, an employee owned surveying and engineering services firm, is celebrating its 75th year of business in 2013 and has marked the occasion with the creation of a new website and logo. KLJ, as it has become known, was launched in 1938 by Louie and Mary Ellen Veigel, who offered surveying and engineering services in the Dakotas from their office in the basement of the Stark County Courthouse in North Dakota. Since that time, the firm has grown to its current size of nearly 700 employees spread throughout 15 offices in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming.


Ross Almlie, CEO and co-founder of BreadVault LLC

BreadVault LLC's virtual flow money-management app is designed to help families save and spend money wisely. IMAGE: BREADVAULT LLC

West Fargo company launches money-management app BreadVault LLC, a West Fargo, N.D.-based technology company nationally launched its first money management mobile app on Oct. 3. The app, which shares the company’s name, is a virtual money-flow system meant to encourage families to save and spend wisely and to give back to their communities. In a statement, Ross Almlie, CEO and company co-founder, credited the app’s launch to North Dakota’s strong example of financial responsibility. “We are conservative almost to a fault in North Dakota, but it has served us well in difficult economic times,” he said. “I can’t think of a better state in the union to help reshape how households manage their savings.”


|PRAIRIE PEOPLE| Kraus-Anderson hires project manager

MDU CEO announces retirement

Terry Hildestad

Terry Hildestad, president and CEO of MDU Resources Group Inc., will retire on Jan. 3, 2013, after a 38-year career with the company. He will be succeeded by David Goodin, who will also become a member of the company’s board of directors. Goodin currently serves as president and CEO of MDU Resources’ four utility groups — Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., Great Plains Natural Gas Co., Cascade Natural Gas Corp. and Intermountain Gas Co. Additionally, J. Kent Wells has been selected to serve as vice chairman of MDU Resources’ board of directors in January. Wells is president and CEO of Fidelity Exploration & Production Co., MDU Resources’ oil and natural gas production business.

Patrick Weerts

Kraus-Anderson Construction Co. has named Patrick Weerts as project manager in the company’s Bemidji, Minn., office. Weerts worked most recently as a project manager for Ham Lake, Minn.-based Crossroad Construction. He previously served as an environmental technician at the Institute for Environmental Assessment in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

University of Mary professor receives Fulbright award

Carole Barrett

Carole Barrett, a professor in the school of arts and sciences at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., has been awarded a Nehru-Fulbright Scholar grant to teach at Ravenshaw University in Cuttack, Odisha, India, during the 2012-2013 academic year. Barrett is spending six months teaching the sociological foundations of education, human rights and American literature as a Nehru visiting lecturer. She will also conduct a workshop on writing grants and will work with students in remedial English. Barrett is one of about 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program this academic year. The program is sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and people of other countries.

Neil Jordheim

Laura Grinde


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

Diane Sandven

Heartland Trust Co. promotes 3 Fargo, N.D.-based Heartland Trust Co. recently promoted Neil Jordheim to executive vice president. Jordheim has been employed at Heartland Trust for 18 years and is a graduate of North Dakota State University. Sheryl Bernier has been promoted to vice president and is responsible for operations, compliance/internal audits and human resources. Bernier co-founded Heartland Trust Co. in 1990. Diane Sandven was promoted to trust administrator and handles personal trusts, investment accounts and individual retirement accounts. Sandven worked at a major national bank’s trust department before joining Heartland Trust in 2004.

SK Food adds quality control specialist SK Food International Inc., a Fargo, N.D.based importer/exporter and supplier of organic food products, has hired Laura Grinde to serve in the newly created position of quality control specialist. In this role, Grinde oversees all quality control at the company’s two locations and maintains regulatory documentation. She will also provide sales and market support related to Identity Preserved ingredients. Grinde holds a bachelor of science degree in food science from North Dakota State University and worked most recently in quality assurance.

Sheryl Bernier

Ducks Unlimited director selected for conservation fellowship

Steve Adair

Steve Adair, Ducks Unlimited director of operations for the Great Plains Region, has been chosen to be a fellow at the National Conservation Leadership Institute. Adair is one of 36 professionals from natural resources related nonprofits, government agencies, tribes and industry selected to take part in an intensive, nine-month, world-class leadership development program. DU’s Great Plains Regional Office is located in Bismarck, N.D.


|PRAIRIE PEOPLE| Borofsky named Dakota State University president

BSE names regional business development, enterprise risk managers

Shawn Burgad

Michael Robinson

Shawn Burgad has been selected to serve as northwest regional business development manager for Border States Electric, an employee-owned electrical supplies distributor headquartered in Fargo, N.D. Burgad joined BSE in 1997 as a warehouse associate at the company’s Bismarck, N.D., branch. Since that time he has worked in various positions within the company, most recently as an account manager at the company’s Gillette, Wyo., branch. Prior to BSE, Burgad worked as an electrician in North Dakota. Michael Robinson has accepted the position of enterprise risk manager. He has more than 15 years of experience in financial services, consulting, consumer products and technology industries. He worked previously at KPMG in Kingston, Jamaica, Bank of America in Louisville, Ky., and most recently at American Financial in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

David Borofsky

Renewable Fuels Association elects 2013 leadership

Gate City CEO receives NDSU alumni award

Steve Swiontek

Steve Swiontek, chair, president and CEO of Gate City Bank in Fargo, received the Development Foundation 2012 Service award from North Dakota State University in recognition of his contributions to NDSU, the foundation and the NDSU Alumni Association. Swiontek received a bachelor’s degree in economics and military science from NDSU in 1977 and an honorary doctorate in 2006. He is a member of the foundation’s board of trustees and served as Alumni Association president from 2001 to 2003. He also chaired the NDSU presidential search committee in 2010 and was a member of the 1998 presidential search committee.

Neill McKinstray

Hugh Neumiller


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

The Renewable Fuels Association has elected Neill McKinstray, president of The Andersons Inc. ethanol division, as chairman of the group’s board of directors. He previously served as vice chairman for two terms and will succeed Chuck Woodside, general manager of Nebraska’s KAAPA Ethanol, who served as chairman for two terms. Other elected officers for 2013 include: Randall Doyal, CEO of Al-Corn Clean Fuel in Claremont, Minn., as vice chairman; Walt Wendland, CEO of Golden Grain Energy in Mason City, Iowa, as treasurer; and Mick Henderson, general manager of Commonwealth Agri-Energy in Hopkinsville, Ky., as secretary.

Schneider joins PioneerCare as CFO

Neumiller joins Century Business Products Hugh Neumiller has joined Century Business Products as a solutions analyst in the company’s Pierre, S.D., office. Neumiller managed a financial company prior to joining Century Business Products. Century Business Products is a technology and services provider for businesses throughout the region and is focused on assisting its customers maximize the capabilities of digital office technology, including workflow systems and document management systems.

David Borofsky has been selected by the South Dakota Board of Regents to become the 22nd president of Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. Borofsky, who had been serving as interim president of the university since February, was appointed to the permanent position on Oct. 22. He succeeds Douglas Knowlton, who left the South Dakota public university system earlier in the year for a position in Minnesota. The Board of Regents had initially said it would not consider Borofsky for the permanent position, but recanted after receiving a “groundswell of support from the campus and community,” according to the board. “President Borofsky has been building a positive momentum for Dakota State University, and no one wanted to break that momentum,” Board of Regents President Kathryn Johnson said in a statement.

Deb Schneider

Deb Schneider has joined PioneerCare, a Fergus Falls, Minn.-based retirement living provider, as chief financial officer. In this role, she will oversee all fiscal functions of the organization. Prior to joining PioneerCare, Schneider was administrator for Minnewaska Community Health Services based in Starbuck, Minn., where she was responsible for leadership and oversight of the organization’s multiple facilities.

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Bakken businesses follow workers Companies set up shop in eastern ND to access stable workforce, housing BY KRIS BEVILL

arlier this year, the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. launched an effort to convince businesses working in the Bakken region of western North Dakota to locate their operations on the eastern side of the state instead. It appears that effort is beginning to show results. Two manufacturing companies have recently opened facilities in the Grand Forks, N.D., area and economic development officials anticipate more to come as service and equipment providers seek an alternative to the constant housing and workforce concerns in communities near the Oil Patch. Dickinson, N.D.-based Steffes Corp., a manufacturer of storage tanks and products for use in a number of industries expanded its operations to Grand Forks in April. Approximately 24 of the company’s 225 employees currently work at the Grand Forks facility, but the company expects to double that num-

E Workers at Steffes Corp.’s manufacturing facility in Grand Forks, N.D., weld a cattle guard. The company engineers and fabricates equipment for multiple industries, but recently expanded to Grand Forks to meet growing demand from customers in the oil fields of western North Dakota. PHOTO: KRIS BEVILL, PRAIRIE BUSINESS MAGAZINE


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

ber within the next year in order to meet the demands of its Bakken customers. Rodger Pearson, Grand Forks division manager, says Steffes Corp. elected to site its third manufacturing location outside of the Bakken region after struggling for several years to retain long-term employees in Dickinson. “People come from other states, they work for a few months and then they go home,” he says. “We were constantly in training mode.” Grand Forks offered not only a stable supply of workers, but also an existing building, formerly used by Pribbs Steel, that met the company’s needs, solidifying the decision to expand east. Oil tank manufacturing company Diverse Energy Systems LLC was founded earlier this year following the acquisition of a small fabrication shop in Grafton, N.D., a community of about 4,000 people located 50 miles north of Grand Forks. The company currently employs about 10 people in Berthold, N.D.,

|BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT| close to the Bakken activity, but elected to base its manufacturing operations in Grafton due to workforce shortages and the high cost of living in the Oil Patch. “Simply put, western North Dakota is a great place to do business, but it’s not a great place to find employees,” says Scott Muster, marketing director for Diverse Energy Systems. “It’s just so challenging out there.” Muster notes that housing shortages plague the entire state of North Dakota, not just the Bakken region, which is why his company purchased housing units in Grafton previously used for migrant workers to temporarily house new company recruits. He declined to offer the total project cost, but said it will likely take the company about five years to pay it off. He says the investment in housing provides the company a definite advantage in attracting workers who otherwise might not accept a position due to concerns over immediately available housing. “We have to do this,” Muster says. “What else would we do?” By late October, Diverse Energy Systems had completed work on two of the 10 duplex units located on the property. Muster says a total of 56 people could live on the property, although he’s uncertain whether the company will fill the units to capacity. Employees living on property will be charged a small rent. Muster says the company’s goal is to provide temporary housing, up to six months, while new hires seek permanent homes in the area. Families are a primary target for the company and will be accommodated in the units. The company is actively recruiting and seeks to fill 24 new positions by February, bringing its total number of employees to 115. Klaus Thiessen, president and CEO of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., says Grand Forks has housing and workers available to meet companies’ demands and his office plans to re-group its efforts in western North Dakota to continue attracting companies to the area. The inevitable bust of an oil boom is not a concern for Grand Forks as it seeks to entice service companies, according to Thiessen, because businesses locating in the area service a number of industries. That sentiment was echoed by Steffes Corp.’s Pearson. “We know that oil will go down eventually and we’re preparing for that,” he says. PB Kris Bevill Editor, Prairie Business 701-306-8561,


|40 UNDER 40|

Darin Seeley (37) Senior Manager, Human Resources and Employment Black Hills Corp. Rapid City, S.D.

Immense Inspiration BY KRIS BEVILL

he honorees selected for Prairie Business magazine’s annual top 40 business professionals under the age of 40 represent a cross-section of the immense talent that exists in varied sectors throughout our area, providing inspiration for the entire business community through their determination to exceed expectations and willingness to work hard for success. Among this year's group are entrepreneurs, sales leaders, a patent holder and a Pulitzer prize winner. Some of the honorees have worked in the same field for most of their adult life while others have already made a noticeable impact in new endeavors. Many of the honorees are devoted to contributing to their communities outside of work as well, serving on local school boards, chamber committees and charitable organization committees. We are proud to introduce this year's top 40 members of the region's business community.



Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

Darin, a native of tiny Chester, S.D., left the Ohio auto industry behind to return to his home state in 2009 to work for diversified energy company Black Hills Corp. Since making the switch Darin has embraced his new role at Black Hills Corp. and gained a reputation among his peers as being at the forefront of incorporating technology into human resources activities. Among those technologies is a web tool that allows the company to conduct recorded interviews with potential candidates. Darin says that adopting this method of long-distance interviewing has reduced transportation costs, eliminated scheduling conflicts between interviewees and interviewers and proven to be a time-saver for everyone involved in the hiring process. Darin has also become a vocal advocate for adequately training workers for in-demand professions, a passion which stems from working for an industry with a graying workforce and few prospective replacements. “The energy industry, particularly utilities, is facing an aging workforce — 50 percent will retire in the next five to seven years — which will translate to a large shortage of workers,” he says. He once went so far as to tell a gathering of college presidents and regional legislators “to stop sending everybody to college,” he says, adding good-naturedly, “They didn’t throw anything at me so I guess I will call that a success.” Darin holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from South Dakota State University and an MBA degree from the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio. “I consider myself a business person first, an HR person second,” he says. He says he believes HR professionals in general will need to “learn the language of business” more fluently in the future in order to adapt to the business climate, a concept which gives those professionals with business backgrounds a bit of an advantage over traditionally trained HR majors. He is passionate about his profession and its role in making businesses successful. “I moved into HR because I liked the work in developing people, getting the best out of them, and supporting the business in that way,” he says. Darin lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with his wife and two children.

|40 UNDER 40|

Aaron Lamb (37)

Jennifer Grosz (31)

Michael Karvakko (32)

Founder/President Ergologistics LLC Fargo, N.D.

Lawyer, Shareholder Ebeltoft . Sickler . Lawyers Dickinson, N.D.

President Karvakko Engineering Bemidji, Minn.

Aaron is the founder of FormulaNow, an automated infant formula dispensing system, and Ergologistics LLC, maker of the automated hand truck dubbed Lift’n Buddy, but as is the case for many entrepreneurs, his entrance into the world of entrepreneurialism happened by chance. After majoring in international studies at North Dakota State University, Aaron eventually accepted a temporary position as a sales representative for a coffee and tea distributor. The job ended up lasting for several months because representatives were continually injuring themselves while trying to lift heavy equipment. Seeing the frequency with which company representatives sustained injuries led to the “a-ha” moment that eventually resulted in the Lift’n Buddy, he says. A similar revelation struck one hectic workday morning after his wife verbalized her wish for a machine that could prepare a baby bottle at the push of a button. That thought triggered the notion for an automated machine, and FormulaNow was born. About three years ago, the North Dakota State University Research & Technology Park accepted Aaron and his team into its Technology Incubator and has provided business development expertise in preparation for his company’s full-fledged launch. “In essence, they provide somewhat of a safety net,” he says. “Then the training wheels come off and you go and grow.” For Ergologistics, which has already sold a few hundred units worldwide, that launch will likely happen next year. Aaron also expects to launch FormulaNow in 2013. He recently secured Series A financing and is negotiating with the fifth largest infant formula producer in the world. Aaron says mentors at NDSU urge young businesses to focus on current projects and monetize them before moving on to their next ventures, but he “has the itch to keep on innovating” and hopes to launch more products in the near future. “Watch for us because we do have something around the bend,” he says.

Jen received her law degree from the University of Nebraska School of Law in 2005 and and soon after began her legal career at Mackoff Kellogg Law Firm in Dickinson, N.D. But within just four years, she moved on to launch a new law firm in Dickinson, N.D., and assumed a leadership role within the firm. Now three years into her role as shareholder at Ebeltoft, Sickler, Kolling, Grosz, Bouray PLLC, Jen has become the “go-to” lawyer for large-scale business transactions at the firm, specializing in succession planning and sales of operations for oilfield operators. It is unusual for someone to become such an accomplished lawyer at such a young age, and Jen says she sometimes has to convince her clients that although she’s young, she’s perfectly qualified for the job. “Early in my career, I was fortunate to have very talented attorneys guide me into areas of the law that they felt were the most consistent with my talents,” she says. “Because of their leadership and encouragement, I was able to focus on what has become my area of expertise right from the start.” Jen is also a founding member of the Dickinson Young Professionals Network and mentors new lawyers and law clerks at her firm. In 2010, the Young Professionals Network named the firm the best place in North Dakota to intern. Jen’s main piece of advice to newcomers at the firm is this: Take a deep breath. “I think young lawyers are often overly terrified of making a mistake, thinking that a mistake they make will be fatal to the case on which they’re working,” she says. “Mistakes can be fixed, and my job as a partner is to help our associates and law clerks come up with a plan to fix them.”

Michael is a Michigen native who moved to Bemidji, Minn., with his wife a, Minnesota native, after receiving a civil engineering degree from Michigan Technical University in 2000. In 2006, he founded Karvakko Engineering, a civil engineering company with an emphasis on providing topnotch customer service to its clients. Michael and his small staff worked on a diverse number of projects in northern Minnesota and North Dakota for the first few years of business, most notably the Bemidji airport, which has been under development for 10 years. Since founding Karvakko Engineering, Michael says his company has conducted $35 million in improvements at the airport. But the Bakken’s reach stretches far, and this past year has proven that point at Karvakko Engineering. The firm has more than doubled in size to its current staff of 15 employees, due largely to projects the company is conducting in the oil fields of western North Dakota. Michael has also been able to expand his company’s offerings, recently adding landscape architecture and land surveying to its list of capabilities. Michael credits his “energetic staff ” for seeking out challenges and opportunities that have helped grow the firm’s list of projects and says his staff is what inspires him to build the best business possible. Michael lives with his wife and three children on a hobby farm near Bemidji. He is a member of the Society of Professional Engineers, the Minnesota Council of Airports, the City Engineers Association of Minnesota and the American Society of Civil Engineers.


|40 UNDER 40| Nicole Peske

Ryan Boschee



Education and Training Coordinator North Dakota League of Cities Bismarck, N.D.

Group Bank President Great Western Bank Watertown, S.D.


Nicole has worked for the North Dakota League of Cities for more than a decade. In her current role, she connects civic leaders with training opportunities in emergency response, crisis communications, social media and leadership. She also facilitates the league’s scholarship program and coordinates its annual meeting. Nicole also serves as co-lead of the Bismarck-Mandan Young Professional’s professional development team.

Ryan joined Great Western Bank in 2001 as a management trainee in Watertown and Madison, S.D. Since that time he has served in various positions, leading to a promotion to group president in 2011. In this role, he oversees markets in Watertown, Chamberlain and Madison, S.D. He also currently serves on the boards of the Business Industry School Coalition, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, the Watertown Chamber of Commerce and Karing Kapers.

Jennifer joined Wooden Mallet in 2008 and is responsible for overall growth and development of reseller relationships. Since joining the company, she has renegotiated dealer contracts resulting in a 25 percent cost savings and opened more than 50 new reseller accounts, comprising nearly 30 percent of the current year’s sales. She is also a founding member of Aberdeen’s downtown association and has served as an elected Aberdeen City Councilperson since 2009.

David Lehman

Julie Haugen

Jolene Loetscher




Manufacturing Engineering Extension Specialist North Dakota State University Bismarck, N.D. David joined NDSU in 2009, where he provides outreach, resource materials and preliminary engineering assistance based on the needs of investors, companies and organizations throughout North Dakota. He also serves as an executive board member for the IDEA Center business incubator in Bismarck and is a member of the Economic Development Association of North Dakota. Additionally, he is the proprietor and president of a real estate investment firm with holdings in Bismarck, Mandan and Dickinson.

Impact Institute Director Impact Foundation Fargo, N.D.

Entrepreneur Selfspiration, Mud Mile Communications, DooGooders Sioux Falls, S.D.

Julie became director of the Impact Institute in 2007 and works continuously to bring new programs to nonprofits of the region to expand their leadership, capacity and impact. In 2009, she launched a leadership program to help nonprofit executives improve their impact. She also led in developing the online giving website and building Giving Hearts Day to a successful event. The 2012 Giving Hearts Day garnered $1.6 million in donations to charities in a 24-hour period.

Jolene launched her first business in 2007 – a dog waste removal service which provides a portion of its sales to charities. She has also co-founded Mud Mile Communications, which assists brands in developing social media, online, video and communications strategies and Selfspiration, a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing awareness of sexual abuse, particularly crimes against children, through legislative and social change. In 2012, she worked to pass legislation in South Dakota which would remove the statue of limitations on certain types of rape cases.

Deb Eslinger

Derrick Dinger

Kory Anderson




Executive Director Center for Technology & Business Bismarck, N.D.

Managing Director Northwestern Mutual Aberdeen, S.D.

President Horsch Anderson/ Anderson Industries/ Anderson Bros. Farms Andover, S.D.

Derrick became managing director for Northwestern Mutual in 2009 and has since grown his office from three representatives to 10 and has more than doubled its production. In 2012, he received the Emerging Leader award from the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce. He is an active member of the Wolves Club Board of Trustees and is a committee member for Northern State University Athletics.

After serving as engineering manager for agricultural implement manufacturer Horsch Anderson since 2005, Kory became president of the company in 2010. He launched Anderson Industries in 2006 and has steadily expanded the business, most recently through the acquisition of a Mapleton, N.D., company in 2011. Additionally, he and his brother formed Anderson Bros. Farm in 2011, a South Dakota farming business that raises corn and soybeans.

As the executive director of the Center for Technology & Business (CTB), Deb runs the N.D. Women’s Business Center and develops programming and initiatives to support women in business, leadership and economic development throughout North Dakota. She also serves on the excellence in business committee for the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and provides leadership for the North Dakota Young Professionals through her role at the CTB.


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

Jennifer SlaightHansen Director of Sales and Marketing Wooden Mallet Aberdeen, S.D.

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|40 UNDER 40| Stacy Kusler

Scott Eisenbeisz

Eric Icard




Manager Aurora Clinic Grand Forks, N.D.

Director of Clinic Operations Sanford Health Aberdeen Clinic Aberdeen, S.D.

As manager of Aurora Clinic, Stacy has played an instrumental role in growing the clinic to its current staff of 24 people. She also founded the Red River Runners group of Grand Forks, which has 150 paid members annually, and serves on the Fargo Marathon planning committee. She volunteers as a coach for Special Olympics and serves as the public relations coordinator for the local Special Olympics area management team.

Scott became the clinic director at Sanford Aberdeen in 2010 and oversees a medical staff consisting of more than 40 providers ranging from family medicine to advanced sub-specialty practices for children and adults. He has previously served in a variety of administrative roles within Sanford Health, most recently as director of primary care, a position which entails working within rural health clinics, quality payment programs, the Diabetes Health Coach program and electronic health record projects.

Senior Business Development Officer Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. Grand Forks, N.D. Eric has more than a decade of experience in various levels of economic development and is currently focused on developing the emerging Unmanned Aerial Systems enterprise in the Grand Forks, N.D., region. He is the first chairman of Northland Community & Technical College’s Northland Aerospace Foundation board of directors, a member of the local Air Force Association and represents the Grand Forks Region EDC on the Red River Regional Council.

Justin Mahler

Brad Tollerson

Emily Richardt




Director of Engineering Spectrum Aeromed Fargo, N.D.

Manager, Power Services Otter Tail Power Co. Fergus Falls, Minn.

Justin has held the lead engineer position at Spectrum Aeromed since 2007 and is responsible for the oversight, management and leadership of a fiveperson in-house engineering team and three outside consulting engineers. In recognition of his skills, qualifications, technical knowledge and expertise as a designer, the Federal Aviation Administration appointed Justin as a Designated Engineering Representative. He is one of the youngest DERs in the U.S.

As manager of power services, Brad leads Otter Tail Power Co.’s wholesale energy market operations and staff and is instrumental in leading the company through the dramatically changing energy markets. He is a U.S. Patent holder for his involvement in the development of an Energy Coordination System for facilitating customer choice for electric service. Additionally, Brad is actively involved in regional energy market committees and task forces.

Director of Public Relations, Committees and Programs Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce Aberdeen, S.D. Emily recently joined the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce after having spent 10 years as a journalist. During her time spent as a reporter and editor, she received several prestigious awards, including a Pulitzer Prize in public service, journalism’s highest honor, as part of the staff of the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald for its coverage following Hurricane Katrina. She was also named South Dakota’s young journalist of the year in 2006.

Lee Harstad

Randy Grismer

Todd Medd




Marketing Director Deadwood Chamber of Commerce Visitors Bureau Deadwood, S.D.

General Manager Comfort Inn Aberdeen, S.D.

Project Manager, Fargo Manager JLG Architects Fargo, N.D.

As marketing director for the Deadwood Chamber of Commerce Visitors Bureau, Lee directs one of the largest private-sector advertising and promotion budgets in the region. He also currently serves as vice president of the Black Hills Badlands and Lakes Association and is the public information officer for the Deadwood Volunteer Fire Department. He is also an outdoors columnist for the Rapid City Journal.

In addition to his role as general manager of the Aberdeen Comfort Inn, Randy operates a restaurant/bar and event facility in Aberdeen and has been an active member of the community for more than 15 years. He helped to create the Aberdeen Hotel Alliance which launched a self-taxing authority for the town’s hotels, generating more than $300,000 annually for marketing and reserve funds for event funding. He has also held leadership roles with the local chamber of commerce and convention and visitors bureau.

He joined JLG just two years ago, but Todd’s enthusiasm and management qualities have quickly led him to a management position, including a recent appointment as manager of the firm’s Fargo office. He also leads JLG’s health care division, which under his management has worked with the Fargo Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Sanford Health. Before joining JLG, Todd worked for HKS, one of the nation’s largest architecture firms, where he worked on the Aria Casino and Convention Center project in Las Vegas among other projects.


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012



ns o i t a l u t a r g n Co The Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate our staff members and local business professionals for being named to Prairie Business Magazine's 40 under 40.

40 under 40

on your 40 under 40 award! Nicole Walter Director of Member Services & Events Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce



Director of Clinic Operations Sanford Health Aberdeen Clinic

Emily Richardt

Jennifer Klitzke

Matt Prehn

Director of Public Relations Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce

Administrative Assistant United Way of Northeastern South Dakota Inc.

Principal Business Relationship Manager Wells Fargo Bank

ZACHARY E. PELHAM CHRISTOPHER J. NYHUS RACHEL BRUNER-KAUFMAN CHRISTINA A. SAMBOR Jennifer Slaight-Hansen Director of Sales and Marketing Wooden Mallet


Scott Eisenbeisz

Telephone: (701) 223-2890 Fax: (701) 223-7865 E-mail:

Randy Grismer

Derrick Dinger

General Manager Comfort Inn

Managing Director Northwestern Mutual

We're proud of the work they - and the rest of our area's young professionals do each and every day.

516 S. Main St. (605) 225-2860 fax: (605) 225-2437


|40 UNDER 40| Brett Gurholt

Joshua Riedy

Tyrone Grandstrand




Office Manager Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson Bismarck, N.D.

Chief Information Officer University of North Dakota Grand Forks, N.D.

Financial Representative Northwestern Mutual Grand Forks, N.D

Brett has worked for KLJ for eight years, beginning as a landscape architect in 2004. He currently serves as office manager at the firm’s Bismarck location, which houses more than half of the company’s 600 employees. He is a member of KLJ’s long-term planning committee and project management reinvented team, which seeks to find innovative ways to manage projects and meet clients’ needs. Brett serves on the board of directors for Bismarck’s Downtowner’s Association and as chairperson for the Bismarck Forestry Advisory Board .

Josh joined UND initially as dean of outreach programs and quickly revolutionized the division, resulting in UND becoming a leading university in online education. Based on this success, he was appointed to the additional role of chief information officer for the university. He is also the associate chief information officer for the North Dakota University System and director of system information technology services.

Tyrone displayed strong leadership skills while still a student at the University of North Dakota, where he served a rare two consecutive terms as student body president and led the student body's impressive volunteerism effort during the 2009 Red River Valley flood. In addition to his work at Northwestern Mutual, Tyrone serves as the finance committee chair of the Grand Forks Community Land Trust, a nonprofit group focused on creating permanent affordable home ownership opportunities in the city.

Chris Dumont

Eric Watson

Tiffany Wirth




Project Manager Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson Grand Forks, N.D.

Owner/Executive Chef Mosaic Catering & Events, Mezzaluna Restaurant Fargo, N.D.

Director of Marketing Evolution1 Inc. Fargo, N.D.

A graduate of North Dakota State University, Chris has spent six years developing engineering expertise in airport design and construction projects for general and commercial airports. He serves on the board of directors for the North Dakota Young Professionals Network as well as the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals Network. He is an aircraft owner, a licensed pilot, and is actively involved in the aviation community.

In eight years, Eric has grown his business from a small catering company with just two employees to a catering service and dining establishment with more than 35 employees. He has been a driving force in creating an upscale catering scene in the Red River Valley. In 2011, Mosaic Foods received the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award. Eric also contributes to community events that support local food pantries, the arts scene and school fundraisers.

Tiffany joined Evolution1 (then Lighthouse1) in 2009 and helped it grow and maintain its current title as the largest electronic payment, on-premise and cloud computing health care solution that administers reimbursement accounts in the nation. The company and its partners currently serve more than 8 million consumers. Tiffany’s experience includes five years at Great Plains Software and six years at Microsoft, where she served as senior marketing manager before joining Evolution1.

Matt Prehn

Eric Christensen

Leap Chear




Principal Business Relationship Manager Wells Fargo Bank Aberdeen, S.D.

Chief Financial Officer Trussbilt LLC Huron, S.D.

Architect EAPC Architects Engineering Fargo, N.D.

Matt has spent 12 years at Wells Fargo Bank. As principal business relationship manager, he oversees its business banking team members. Matt has a strong track record in community involvement, serving for nine years as a member of the Aberdeen Sertoma Club and eight years as a member of the Hub Area Habitat for Humanity. He has spent two years on the board of directors at the United Way of Northeastern South Dakota and is a member of the Aberdeen Parks and Recreation board of directors.

As CFO of security products manufacturer Trussbilt LLC, Eric has transformed the company’s finance department by reducing its monthly close to single day. He oversees five other administrative and operational departments with a goal of reducing costs, increasing output and becoming self-sufficient. A resident of Mitchell, S.D., Eric has been a member of the Mitchell school board for the past five years and recently joined the local career learning center and the James River Housing Authority.

Leap’s many office responsibilities at EAPC include project manager, project architect, sustainability coordinator and office recycling program. He is also a member of the company’s project manager group, which is committed to better serving clients through improved office management. He is LEED AP BD+C certified and is an executive board member of the North Dakota chapter of the United States Green Building Council. In 2009, he received the Young Architect of the Year award from the North Dakota American Institute of Architects.


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012


|40 UNDER 40| Becky Walen

Val Wagner

Johnathon Rademacher




Vice President, Relationship Manager U.S. Bank Fargo, N.D.

CEO Wagner Farms Monango, N.D.

Chief Technology Officer Sundog Fargo, N.D.

Becky has spent more than 15 years in financial services and has experience in investment management, trust, custody, securities lending and financial planning. She joined U.S. Bank’s wealth management division in 2005 and currently serves as relationship manager for a select group of clients in the Dakotas and northern Minnesota. Becky is also pursuing a master’s degree in family financial planning at North Dakota State University and is an active participant in several local organizations.

Val, along with her husband, manages her family’s farm and ranch. She is a vocal advocate for rural North Dakota and American agriculture and served previously on the American Farm Bureau Federation’s National Young Farmer and Rancher Committee. She is adamant that the family farm/ranch operation continue for her four young sons and generations to come and works constantly to utilize farming and ranching practices that increase profitability while lowering expenses.

Johnathon joined Sundog in 2004 as a systems architect and was promoted to executive vice president of technology before becoming chief technology officer. In this role, he sets the technical direction for the company as well as guides clients in setting their own technical direction. His specialty is systems integration — involving multiple software systems and leveraging them for specific business goals.

Nicole Walter

Nathan Pinke

Aaron Hill




Director of Member Services & Events Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce Aberdeen, S.D.

Co-Owner Pinke Lumber Co. Wishek, N.D.

Co-Founder, Vice President Fargo Beer Co. Fargo, N.D.

Nicole joined the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce in 2003 as an administrative assistant and has since served as project coordinator and membership director. She obtained an Institute for Organization Management certificate in 2010 through the U.S. Chamber and implemented a membership perks program at the local level in 2011. She is extensively involved in community service activities in the areas of youth, education and community development and has a sincere desire to make a difference in the community.

In 2007, Nathan left a promising career as a pharmaceutical sales representative to run his family’s lumberyard and general contracting business. Since taking on his new profession, Nathan has transitioned the company from paper to electronic records management and expanded the business’s customer base. Gross sales have doubled since 2007 and the business has hired three new employees to meet demand. Nathan has become an active member of the community as well, participating on the Wishek School Board.

Aaron co-founded the Fargo Beer Co. in 2010 and serves as the voice of the company while it grows its presence in the region. The company began selling beer locally in 2011 and is currently working to establish a brewery in Fargo in 2013. Aaron earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Saint John’s University in 2005 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in strategic leadership at the University of Mary. He is a past chair of the FargoMoorhead Young Professionals Network and the North Dakota Young Professionals Network.

Jennifer Klitzke

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Administrative Assistant United Way of Northeastern South Dakota Inc. Aberdeen, S.D.

Associate Pearce & Durick Bismarck, N.D.

Financial Advisor Edward Jones West Fargo, N.D.

Jennifer has worked in the nonprofit community for 12 years but also has a background in accounting. At United Way, she is responsible for transitioning the organization through several donation and accounting software upgrades. In 2010, she received the Emerging Leader award from the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce for demonstrating leadership qualities within her place of business and the community. Her community involvement includes chairing the Kids Voting Aberdeen committee.

Christina joined Pearce & Durick in June and focuses on education law, oil and gas litigation, criminal and family law. Additionally, she is the president-elect for the firm’s young lawyers section. Christina holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Dakota and a law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, Calif. During law school she spent a summer in Thailand as a law clerk with a human rights organization. After graduating, she worked as a fellow for Polaris Project.

Matthew joined Edward Jones in 2008 after teaching marketing, finance, entrepreneurship and business ethics at a number of schools over a period of six years. During his teaching career, Matthew was named the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s National Entrepreneurship Teacher of the Year in for 2005-’06 and the North Dakota Marketing/DECA Teacher of the Year in 2007-’08. Since joining Edward Jones, he has earned a number of company achievement awards.


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012



Proving Success on the Plains Software entrepreneur Doug Burgum continues to set the pace for innovation and leadership in the business community BY KRIS BEVILL et's say you take a chance and help launch an accounting software company, then spend the next 20 years nurturing it and growing it to the point where it is acquired for more than a billion dollars by an international software giant. What do you do next? If you are Doug Burgum, who at age 26 literally “bet the farm” on fledgling startup Great Plains Software and ended up a senior Microsoft executive, you do it again. And you become a philanthropist, a business investor, a real estate developer, an adviser for other technology start-ups and a mentor and role model for entrepreneurs and business people throughout the northern Plains.


Before Microsoft Doug Burgum, former chairman and CEO of Great Plains Software and Microsoft Corp. executive, now invests in technology startups and leads a real estate development firm focused on downtown infill rather than outer edge expansion. PHOTO: JOHN BROSE


Burgum is a native of Arthur, N.D., a small farming community located about 35 miles northwest of Fargo, N.D. His post-high school education was business oriented and included a bachelor’s degree in university studies from North Dakota State University, followed by a master’s degree from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. After graduating from Stanford, he

Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. in Chicago before returning to North Dakota while still in his 20s to become involved with Great Plains Software in 1983. At the time the company was launched, few people had knowledge of the emerging software/computer technology industry, himself included, he says, and Burgum received a fair amount of flak from local business people who doubted the company’s chances of succeeding, specifically because of its location. “There was this view that somehow we were taking too much risk in starting a software company in the Great Plains,” Burgum says. “My response was that we were hiring great grandkids of immigrants who had to have been among the highest risk takers — to leave everything and go to a place that has no infrastructure, no electricity, no health care, no educational systems. [And] when you think about software and technology, when everything that you make and sell comes out of the minds of your team members, the only raw material that you need to be close to is brain power.” Burgum recruited the best brain power he could find, hiring many staff members while they were still

|LEADERSHIP| college students, and set about achieving the lofty goal of developing the best accounting software for mid-markets in the world while emphasizing the continued success of the company’s employees and customers. His vision paid off in a big way in 1997 when Great Plains went public and had one of the most successful initial public offerings in NASDAQ history at the time, offering a listing price of $16 per share, but trading at $32 per share by the end of the first day. “The entire time we were public we never went below our offering price,” Burgum says. “When we were acquired, the acquiring price was about 55 bucks a share. We had a great run as a public company, in part because we just had a great team and a great business model.” A humble North Dakota farm boy at heart, Burgum shies away from taking much credit for Great Plains’ phenomenal success, quickly pointing out that he always held a minority share in the company. He says he is often granted a “disproportionate share of credit for the successes created by so many people” but it’s clear that he has an eye for talent and knew early on that retaining that brain power would be vital to the company’s success. In one instance, he created a position to keep an employee who was graduating from college and planning to leave the company. Other times he would call employees’ parents to convince them their children were not making huge mistakes by working at the small software company instead of pursuing other more seemingly solid careers in accounting or finance. The company even hosted an annual Parents’ Day during its early years to help employees’ parents understand the company and their children’s jobs. Many of the employees he hired as college students worked their way up through the company and continue to serve in executive positions at Microsoft.

‘Power of Software’ Anyone with entrepreneurial tendencies has likely daydreamed of creating a company that ends up being acquired for a huge sum of money by a global firm. But when the time actually comes, the decision may be more difficult than you think. Burgum says he turned down Microsoft three times before reaching a final deal. “You can only say 'no' so many times when someone wants to buy you,” he says. As the head of a public company, Burgum had a responsibility to make the best decision for Great Plains’ shareholders. He believes that duty includes protecting the company’s team, so he made sure that no Great Plains employee would lose their job after Microsoft’s acquisition. “That was important to me in terms of the business we built,” he says. “Some people, when they get sold they get chopped up. We went in as an entity.” As a result, Microsoft’s Fargo campus became the company’s second largest field campus. Burgum served as senior vice president of Microsoft’s Business Solutions Group and contributed to the company’s overall global small and mid-size business for several years before making his exit from the company. His decision to leave was difficult to make because of the great working relationships and friendships he had developed with many members of the company, he says. But the fact that his duties at Microsoft kept him away from his young family in Fargo much of the time tipped the scales in favor of retiring. “We have a great campus in Fargo, but at that executive level even my home games were away games,” he says. Burgum gave Microsoft a two-year

notice, giving ample time for him to once again ensure that Fargo’s campus would remain with all employees following his departure. After Microsoft, Burgum invested in a human resource management software company called SuccessFactors. He took an interest in the company because it was an area that Microsoft hadn’t really focused on, he says. The company struggled mightily during the global recession of 2008, but Burgum remained involved and became chairman of the board, eventually guiding it through an impressive $3.8 billion acquisition by business software provider SAP last spring. Just as he had done with Great Plains, Burgum made sure the acquisition would not mean the loss of any SuccessFactors jobs. “That was another fun one,” he says. “Working on one Great Plains is great. To do a second one is fantastic.” Burgum continues to be a strong believer in the “power of software.” Earlier this year, he invested in and became chairman of the board for a Sydney, Australia-based software development company called Atlassian which he believes has the potential to positively impact many industries. “I’m very excited about this company,” he says. It remains to be seen whether Atlassian will be Burgum’s hat trick in billion-dollar acquisition deals, and he says acquisitions are never the goal from the start. Rather, his focus is to build sustainable companies that impact their industries. “It turns out that if you do that, it becomes valuable to other people,” he says.

Arthur Ventures Closer to home, he is the co-founder and chairman of Arthur Ventures Growth Fund, an investment fund with a preference for companies with strong leadership teams whose products possess disruptive capabilities that offer the opportunity to provide positive economic impacts at the product level, the organization level and the industry level. Software startups are a favorite, not because that’s what he knows but because software is a transformative tool, Burgum says. One industry ripe for transformation through software advancements is health care and the fund has invested in several companies that are developing tools for the health care industry, including Preventice and Intelligent InSites, both of which have offices in Fargo. In the past four years, Arthur Ventures has invested in six companies, but it has received more than 1,000 applications. “People think I have invested in a lot of companies, but I wish it was more and that more people would do what Arthur Ventures is doing,” he says. “There are good ideas out there that need capital and if they don’t get the capital here they go someplace else. Those are businesses that all have the potential to be located in this region.” To do its part, Arthur Ventures will soon begin its second round of fundraising and Burgum hopes the region’s wealth will bear fruit and help retain more of the emerging companies seeking to settle on the northern Plains. “We’d love to raise north of $30 million in this immediate area from individuals and organizations that are interested in wanting to make investments in tech startups in our region,” he says.

Purposeful Real Estate Development Software startups continue to be an exciting venture for Burgum, but he’s also found a passion in restoring and transforming downtown spaces. He is the founder and chairman of the Kilbourne



Group, a Fargo-based real estate development group dedicated to this vision. “It’s not just a Fargo thing, but we’re starting with Fargo because you have to do well at home before you can export any ideas,” he says. “We’re happy to be a role model for others and learn from other cities that are doing great things in terms of re-investing in their downtowns.” A shining example of Kilbourne Group’s philosophy is a 100year-old building in downtown Fargo known as the Loretta Building. The prime piece of real estate housed just a handful of workers when it was acquired by the firm and was in dire need of renovations. In fact, only 9,000 feet of space in the three-story building was up to code. Kilbourne Group renovated the entire building and added a fourth floor, bringing the usable space up to 45,000 feet. “All of a sudden you’ve got 100 to 150 people working in the building,” he says. “From the standpoint of the city, it didn’t have to add a street, any sewer, power lines, policeman or fire stations. The economics of infill are so powerful in terms of making cities more economically viable, and it’s something that few people understand.” It’s true that suburban sprawl is alive and well on the Great Plains and Burgum readily admits he, too, was once drawn to the edge and developed the Great Plains software campus on the outskirts of Fargo. “But now, with a greater understanding of the economics, to me, that edge development makes far less sense than anything related to infill,” he says. “The Kilbourne Group is not just about


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

saving historic buildings. We’re also trying to be a role model for what we think are the very smart economics of density.”

Education and Philanthropy Another passion of Burgum’s is youth education. He recently found a way to incorporate his desire to improve educational opportunities for children with art and historic building preservation through the development of a creative arts studio in downtown Fargo. Named in honor of his late mother, the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity is an example of the values she held — art, education, youth and saving buildings, he says. Software also plays a role even in this project, however, as Burgum points out that art teaches children to be creative and innovative, two strongly desired qualities in the software development world. “It turns out that when you’re starting new businesses, you have to come up with answers that no one else has come up with before,” he says. “So those creative skills are part of what’s needed at software companies. It’s engineering, but it’s also art.” Clearly, those initial Great Plains Software nay-sayers would eat their words today and Burgum takes pride in the fact that the company’s success serves as an example of what can be accomplished on the Plains. “People feel like, if you can do Great Plains here, you can do anything from here,” he says. “For people who know me, it’s more like, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’ I’m a small-town kid from Arthur. I


Doug Burgum founded the Kilbourne Group in 2006 with the goal of revitalizing and redeveloping downtown Fargo through historic building preservation as well as new construction. Projects completed to date include a new condominium building constructed in a former parking lot. PHOTO: JOHN BROSE

didn’t know what I wanted to do in college, and five years after college I’m doing a software startup and I didn’t even know software was a business much less an industry.” He doesn’t classify himself as a risk junkie, but he recognizes that his decision to launch Great Plains was a risk and that all success stories include a moment of risk and fearlessness. He credits a support system of friends and family for encouraging him through the long process of pursuing that first success story and he encourages the Plains community as a whole to continue supporting the next generation of risk takers. “We have to have a culture that welcomes people in startups and crazy ideas and things that haven’t been done before,” he says. “Because they’re going to be the job providers. They’re going to be the ones that create the economic base for our future.”

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Making a difference Engineering students get hands-on experience while improving Guatemalan community

Chris Larson and Dan Elemes, members of the North Dakota State University chapter of Engineers Without Borders dig a trench for a water distribution system in Las Tablitas, Guatemala, under the supervision of group mentor Joel Paulsen. PHOTO: NDSU ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS

BY KRIS BEVILL n early January, engineering students from North Dakota State University will make their second trip to Guatemala to complete civil improvement projects through the university chapter of Engineers Without Borders. In June, six of the group’s approximately 20 members, along with group mentor, Joel Paulsen, a project manager at KLJ in Moorhead, Minn., traveled to the tiny village of Las Tablitas, about 75 miles east of Guatemala City, to build a water distribution system for the community. The group raised approximately $18,000 through donations made by local engineering firms, fundraisers and university contributions to complete the project, which included the installation of two water tanks, approximately 4,700 feet of PVC pipe, a pump and modifications to existing equipment. While they were there, however, the students noticed a pressing need for another item in Las Tablitas — a new school. “The kindergarteners and second graders are in a wooden shack with a mud floor,” says Amanda Weber, group president and senior at NDSU majoring in civil engineering and international studies. “When we were there, the desks were in standing water.” The group decided that its next project would be to build a school for the community, a significant undertaking for the students. They required surprisingly little guidance from their mentor to complete the design, according to Paulsen, and submitted the completed design to



Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

the Engineers Without Borders USA technical advisory board for its approval in October. Approximately $28,000 will be needed for the project, which will be completed in two phases. For the first phase, three students will go to the site to build the foundation and begin work on the walls. Masons hired by the community will continue work on the building from January to March, when students will return to assist with the roof installation. Weber says that aside from travel, the actual building of the project is perhaps one of the greatest benefits of belonging to the group. “As engineers, you design and do inspections, so we watch the project get built, but very seldom do we actually get our hands dirty and do the building as well,” she says. “That’s really a positive.” Aside from traditional fundraising activities, the group will seek continued support from engineering firms and university groups to achieve its goal. Weber says the area’s engineering firms happily contributed to the group’s June project, including Paulsen’s office, which provided a substantial donation. “A lot of the firms just like supporting junior organizations and see that Engineers Without Borders is one that is really making a difference,” she says. “That’s the reason I went into engineering, was I knew that it was a profession that I could really use my skills to make a difference,” she adds. “When I found out about Engineers Without Borders, I knew that it was where I wanted to devote my time.”

Likewise, Paulsen says he jumped at the opportunity to mentor the NDSU group. In the three years since he signed on, Paulsen has also played a role in establishing a professional chapter of the group in Fargo-Moorhead. “We do our own projects but we also try to contribute to the students’ projects both financially and if they have questions,” he says. The professional group currently has 12 active members and is collaborating with local Rotary clubs on a wastewater project in Guatemala. Meanwhile, the student chapter’s membership has more than doubled since last year and has added an additional mentor, Cassie McNames, also a project manager at KLJ in Moorhead. From a professional standpoint, Paulsen says students participating in Engineers Without Borders are gaining valuable experiences that will give them an edge when seeking employment. “What we look for when we recruit is that practical experience,” he says. “After our last trip, each one of [the students] came to me and told me how much they learned on the trip. It’s those types of practical learning trips that you don’t get in college. I know I’ve learned a lot along the way as well, just being able to tag along with them.” PB Kris Bevill Editor, Prairie Business 701-306-8561,

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The Dakota Nature Park in Brookings, S.D., sits atop a former city-owned landfill and includes several fishing ponds. PHOTO: RICK SOLANEN, BANNER ASSOCIATES INC.

Former landfill has green future BY KRIS BEVILL development project led by the city of Brookings, S.D., will provide a second life for the city’s former landfill. The long-closed landfill site is being converted to a 135-acre nature park, named the Dakota Nature Park, and will offer area residents fishing access, bike trails, a dog park and a nature center when complete. Brookings-based Banner Associates Inc. is the engineer of record for the project and is implementing the master plan developed by Big Muddy Workshop Inc., a landscape architecture and interpretive planning firm based in Omaha, Neb. The project is being carried out in eight phases, the first of which was completed earlier this year, and will take several years to complete. The city of Brookings is contributing approximately $1 million for the $3.6 million project. Private donors are providing the majority of the remaining funds for the project, according to Pete Colson, director of the Brookings parks and recreation department. Colson says the development project began about three years ago after a local donor provided seed money to form a citizens’ group to explore the opportunity for enhanced youth fishing at the former landfill. The site was a city-owned space that was used as a landfill for about 30 years beginning in the late 1960s. The landfill was closed in 1992 and already contained several fishing ponds that were dug when the site was closed. Beyond the ponds, however, little work had been done to the area and it had become overgrown with foliage, making it useful for training hunting dogs but not much else. After about a year and half of consideration, Big Muddy was selected to develop the master plan and work was begun to improve fishing areas within the future park. By early October, fishing area improvements had been completed and work began on the second phase of the project, which includes the construction of a $1.2 million nature center. That phase is expected to be complete in August 2013. Rick Solanen, senior vice president at Banner Associates, says that while he has previously worked on a number of recreational-type projects, this is the first project he’s been a part of that includes the redesign of a former landfill. However, the site’s history has yet to present many challenges, he says. “It’s been fun working on it because we’ve been thinking of the long-



Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

arm effect of what we can do here and to educate the public,” he says. The firm is utilizing environmentally friendly materials such as recycled bituminous pavement where possible and efforts are being made to minimize damage as trails are built through the area. Additionally, the site has been cleared of overgrown vegetation and will be replanted in the spring with native prairie species under the guidance of Brookings-based Millborn Seeds, he says. Geothermal sources will be tapped to provide heating and cooling for the nature center, further reducing the environmental impact of the park. Colson says the city was required to conduct pollution tests of the site and of the fish in the ponds prior to developing the area for a public park, but all checks came back clear and no other environmental challenges are anticipated with the project. In fact, he says the biggest challenge thus far has been installing infrastructure to bring city services to the site. Some community members initially opposed the development of the landfill, not because of its history but because they enjoyed using the abandoned area for activities, such as dog training, that will no longer be allowed, Colson says. “But now that we’ve been doing some work on it, people have been seeing where we’re going with it and it’s become one of the most popular projects in Brookings ever,” he says. This is the second landfill reclamation project to be conducted in Brookings. A city park known as Larson Park, located in the center part of the town, was also once a landfill. According to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, landfill reclamation projects are not common in the state. A department spokesman says it is aware of only one similar project in the state that has occurred within the last five years. That project included the development of nature trails and fishing ponds on a privately owned former landfill near Sioux Falls. Solanen says design work for the project is more than halfway complete. After the nature center phase is completed, the next phase will include paving bike trails. That work is expected to begin sometime next year. PB Kris Bevill Editor, Prairie Business 701-306-8561,

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Gate City Bank gives big to housing fund Contribution enables affordable housing development in Williston, ND BY KRIS BEVILL n October, Gate City Bank contributed $1.25 million to the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund, the largest donation made by a financial institution to date. The fund, established by the 2011 state legislature, was created to develop affordable, multifamily housing units in areas in need of housing, oftentimes in communities in the Bakken region. Contributors receive dollar for dollar tax credits for money given to the fund, which is administered by the North Dakota Housing Financing Agency. Steve Swiontek, president, chairman and CEO of Gate City Bank in Fargo, says the bank contributed to the fund because it represents one of the 90-year-old financial institution’s most important goals. “Our primary focus has been to provide affordable housing within this area (North Dakota and western Minnesota) and this is a great opportunity that the state of North Dakota has provided,” he says. “Instead of giving taxes to the state you can allocate your taxes for housing incentive programs that provide good, affordable housing. There’s such demand for affordable housing that we thought this was a unique concept to go with.” Approximately $700,000 of Gate City’s donation is being used to build a 74-unit housing project in Williston, N.D., which will provide housing for employees of the city of Williston, a local church and various state agencies, including the highway patrol and department of transportation. Any remaining units will be made available to the Williston School District and Mercy Hospital. Remaining funds from Gate City's contribution will support a family-friendly development in Williston, an apartment complex for individuals with disabilities in Bowman and senior-friendly housing in Devils Lake according to the NDHFA.


Gate City Bank Executive Vice President Blaise Johnson, left, presents a $1.25 million Housing Incentive Fund contribution to North Dakota Housing Finance Agency Executive Director Michael Anderson, center, and Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley. PHOTO: GATE CITY BANK


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

HIF is authorized to provide $15 million in credits this year. As of Oct. 16 the fund had received $10.6 million in contributions, according Jolene Kline, director of NDHFA’s planning and housing development division, leaving a $4.4 million gap in pledged funds versus monies received. The list of contributors is long, however and includes 23 various businesses representing $4.4 million, 15 financial institutions, including Gate City Bank, which have provided $3.5 million and hundreds of private contributors. Many of the contributing businesses are oil companies that are operating in areas in need of housing. Marathon Oil Co. has provided the single largest donation, contributing $2.5 million to the fund earlier this year. “We’re getting sizeable contributions, but I don’t want to downplay the role of individuals that have contributed,” Kline says. “We’ve had 320 individuals who have contributed $2.6 million.” In mid-October, Kline said the fund’s full $15 million in authority had been committed to 26 projects scattered throughout the state, but 10 of the projects could not be completed until the remaining $4.4 million in contributions was raised, and the Dec. 31 contribution deadline was looming close. “There is a real sense of urgency,” she says, adding that she’s optimistic the remaining funds will be raised in time because businesses are most likely to make contributions in December. “People think ‘taxes’ in December,” she says. “It’s not too difficult to write a check in December if you’re going to be writing one in January, February or March anyway.” PB Kris Bevill Editor, Prairie Business 701-306-8561,

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Another big dig? State, feds consider uranium mining project in South Dakota BY KRIS BEVILL owertech USA Inc., a subsidiary of Canadabased Powertech Uranium Corp. has for several years been developing plans to mine a known uranium deposit near Edgemont, S.D., a town of less than 1,000 people located approximately 80 miles southwest of Rapid City on the southwest edge of the Black Hills. If approved by state and federal regulators, the proposed in situ uranium mine, known as the Dewey-Burdock Project, would mark uranium mining’s re-entry into the state after a more than 30-year hiatus. According to Mike Cepak, engineer manager for the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources minerals and mining program, the Edgemont area was first mined for uranium in the 1950s. This activity lasted through the late 1960s until demand waned from uranium’s only buyer — the U.S. government. A second uranium boom spurred by the energy crisis of the early 1970s sparked new interest in the area, but mining activities were brought to a halt after the Three Mile Island nuclear plant disaster in 1979 led to a drop in uranium prices. Aside from exploration activities in the early 1980s, the area has been void of uranium


In situ uranium mining is less invasive than open pit mining, as demonstrated in this 2008 photo of an exploration drilling rig at the proposed South Dakota mining site. The process still requires massive amounts of water, however, and poses potential groundwater contamination risks. PHOTO: SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

mine projects since that time. Powertech President and CEO Richard Clement says his company took notice of the area during what he calls the Nuclear Renaissance of 2005-’06, as China and India announced plans to ramp up nuclear plant projects. Since that time, the company has secured leases and contracts for an area covering more than 10,000 acres and has been navigating through the federal and state permitting process. South Dakota’s DENR expects the appropriate state regulatory boards to consider several Powertech permit applications beginning no earlier than April 2013. Before it can commence activities, Powertech must also acquire federal permits from the U.S. EPA and a license from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. If successful, Clement says he expects mining could begin in 2014. Powertech estimates it could produce 1 million pounds of uranium oxide annually for 20 years, according to the DENR. A preliminary economic analysis posted on Powertech Uranium’s website anticipates a mine life of nine years, and expects initial capital costs of $54.3 million.

|ENERGY| In situ recovery is a process in which groundwater from uranium containing-formations is pumped to the surface and oxidized, thus converting the uranium to a soluble form so that it can be extracted from the solution, according to Eric Gronlund, an engineer with the South Dakota DENR’s water rights program. Most of the groundwater is re-circulated back through the ore zone during the process, but because the net result is a withdrawal of water from groundwater aquifers, the state must determine whether water is available and if that water will be put to a beneficial use. Cepak says in situ mining avoids the open pits and spoil piles of conventional mining. The main environmental impact associated with this type of mining, therefore, is the potential contamination of ground water outside the mining zone, as well as the disposal of waste water, he says. Powertech has submitted a ground water discharge plan to the DENR for its review. This is Powertech USA’s first project, although Clement stresses that all company members have previous experience with uranium mining and some have additional experience with in situ mining. He estimates that between 65 and 100 people could be employed at the mine, depending on the stage of operations and says the economic impact on the area would be “in the millions” [of dollars] due largely to an energy minerals severance tax imposed by the state. PB Kris Bevill Editor, Prairie Business 701-306-8561,

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Tripling in 20 Energy demands in western North Dakota could triple in 20 years, requiring major utility expansions BY KRIS BEVILL recent study conducted by engineering firm KLJ confirmed what many companies and residents of the Williston Basin expected to hear — electricity demands from the oil and natural gas industry in the region are growing dramatically and will continue to rise for the next 20 years, nearly tripling the current electricity load of 971 megawatts (MW) to more than 3,000 MW in 2032. The study was conducted at the request of the North Dakota Transmission Authority and the region’s wholesale electricity providers, MontanaDakota Utilities Co. and Basin Electric Power Cooperative, with the intent of providing thirdparty input as to the future of electrical load demands in the region. “Throughout the years, we’ve been seeing a steady growth in demand throughout our entire membership [134 members in nine states], but a lot of that is coming from the demand for electricity in northwestern North Dakota,” says Daryl Hill, media relations supervisor for Basin Electric. “We had


Basin Electric Power Cooperative plans to install a nearly 200-mile-long high-voltage transmission line in western North Dakota to help meet anticipated load growth from the oil and gas industry. PHOTO: BASIN ELECTRIC POWER COOPERATIVE


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

some pretty good numbers of what we were anticipating to happen in terms of growth, but that was Basin Electric-specific perspective. That’s why studies like this are so important. We know it’s coming at us and now we know what we need to do in order to meet that load.” Basin Electric is currently constructing two 45 MW natural gas-fired generating units in the region, one near Williston and another near Watford City, that are scheduled to be complete in mid-2013. The company also recently submitted a letter of intent with the North Dakota Public Service Commission to install two additional 45 MW units at the Lonesome Creek Station near Watford City, bringing that station’s generating capacity up to 135 MW when fully complete in 2015. A 200-mile high-capacity transmission line is also planned to deliver electricity from Basin Electric’s large coal-powered Antelope Valley Station located north of Beulah, N.D., to a substation east of Tioga, N.D. Pending regulatory approval, construction of the line is expected to

|ENERGY| begin in 2014 and will be complete in 2016. Mike Wamboldt, KLJ’s energy director and project manager for the study, says the purpose of the study was to present specific data related to potential increases in electric load demand. To determine future potential industry development and related population and housing projections, KLJ gathered input from oil and gas industry representatives and employed the assistance of the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University. The result was not a surprise, but Wamboldt says the information was needed to verify individual company expectations. “To meet these needs, it’s going to be a significant investment and significant amount of infrastructure buildout, so they’d like to get as much information and knowledge to justify the expenditure and work,” he says. Basin Electric’s current projects alone will require hundreds of millions of dollars to complete. Each 45 MW turbine costs $64.5 million, according to Hill. Total costs for the high-voltage transmission line project are anticipated to reach nearly $350 million. Hill says he does not expect Basin Electric to request financial support from the state for its expansion projects at this time, noting that it is the cooperative’s responsibility to have the electricity capacity online and available when needed by its members. “The goal is to make sure the lights stay on, that the grid is solid and the work gets done,” he says. The KLJ study provides low-, mid- and high-growth scenarios but does not consider a potential oil industry bust because Wamboldt says there is no indication that production in the region will end in the next 20 years. “We anticipate that this is going to be long term,” he says. Hill says Basin Electric’s current list of projects should provide the additional capacity needed to meet future demand, but the situation is constantly under evaluation in order to prevent shortages. “You just don’t know until you see how the loads start coming in,” he says. Kris Bevill Editor, Prairie Business 701-306-8561,



Employment EMPLOYMENT Aug-12 Aug-11

3.00% 3.2 2.6 3.9 2.7 1.7 0.8 3.1 3.7

3.60% 3.8 3.1 5 3.4 1.9 1 3.4 4.3

375,677 118,031 62,075 50,392 33,300 19,580 36,602 10,244 10,867

369,481 117,917 62,040 51,659 34,202 18,166 26,319 11,120 11,748

South Dakota Sioux Falls MSA Rapid City MSA Aberdeen MiSA Brookings MiSA Watertown MiSA Spearfish MiSA Mitchell MiSA Pierre MiSA Yankton MiSA Huron MiSA Vermillion MiSA Minnesota Minneapolis-St. Paul MSA Brainerd MiSA Winona MiSA Fergus Falls MiSA Red Wing MiSA Willmar MiSA Bemidji MiSA Alexandria MiSA Hutchinson MiSA Marshall MiSA Worthington MiSA Fairmont MiSA

4.50% 3.9 4.2 3.5 4 3.5 4.2 3.3 3.3 3.9 3.1 4.4 5.90% 5.7 6.6 5.5 4.8 5.2 4.9 7.1 4.5 6.4 4.5 4.5 5.2

4.60% 4.2 4.3 3.6 4.6 4 4.1 3.6 3.3 4.4 3.3 4.6 6.50% 6.2 7 5.9 5.3 5.8 5.1 7.8 4.9 6.8 5 4.9 5.9

422416 124,915 67,303 22,261 17,230 18,777 12,452 13,106 11,915 11,307 9,720 6,543 2793684 1,763,955 46,278 28,253 30,505 25,201 23,383 20,756 20,703 19,315 14,690 11,144 10,825

424905 125,933 66,616 22,307 17,300 18,570 12,975 13,024 12,152 11,344 9,769 6,475 2785281 1,749,544 47,016 28,653 30,672 25,093 24,661 20,937 21,077 19,889 14,608 11,391 11,351

1.5 Canadian dollars per U.S. dollar

North Dakota Fargo MSA Bismarck MSA Grand Forks MSA Minot MiSA Dickinson MiSA Williston MiSA Jamestown MiSA Wahpeton MiSA


1.4 1.3 1.2 1.1 1 0.9 Jan 2000

Jan 2002

Jan 2004

Jan 2006

Jan 2008

Jan 2010

Jan 2012

Jan 2014

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Interest Rates 7

Federal Funds Rate 10 yr Treasury, Constant Maturity

6 5 4 Percent (%)


3 2 1 0

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Jan 2000

Jan 2002

Jan 2004

Jan 2006

Jan 2008

Jan 2010

Jan 2012

Jan 2014

Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System



Average salary of worker turning 40 in 2011

90,000 Mean Household Income (2011 Dollars), by householder age











15 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44























Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Prairie Business Magazine December 2012

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Prairie Business Magazine December 2012


Peeking out the top of the cold and unfriendly storage shelving where you get your business mail is the colorful logo of a magazine that inspires. Thumbing quickly past the graduate school flyers and latest booklet of promotional trinkets, your hands rest on the glossy pages of a local magazine dedicated to telling your story. People just like you make an investment by spending more uninterrupted and devoted time reading magazines than newspapers, TV or the Internet.* Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something special about the community and energy you receive from a magazine that understands the thoughts, questions and aspirations surrounding your daily life. Just like vast oceans can be intimidating, the opportunities in business need your confidence and determination. *GfK MRI Media Day 2010

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