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February 2012

as get Rural are p hooked u pg.24

What to do ab ou traditional med t ia pg.26 Update on 6-month-old fe financial initia deral tive pg. 28

Connecting to the global network

2 Prairie Business

February 2012


Volume 12 No. 2


From the Editor’s Desk


Professional Spotlight


Matthew Mohr


Prairie News


Prairie People


Company Spotlight Martinson Insurance Agency


Sales and Marketing Developing, maintaining relationships at heart of marketing UND Unmanned Aircraft Systems


Workforce - Region has challenges in finding workforce


Red River Valley - ‘Dedicated mobile website’ assists Fargo-Moorhead visitors

24 26 28 30

Cover Story: Connecting a region to the global network Cover Story: Marketing - Traditional marketing still has its place Cover Story: Financial - Banking industry not sure about Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Economic Development - ‘Remarkable’ economic activities occurring


Energy - Ethanol blender pumps growing in numbers Blender pumps offering consumers a variety of

36 38

ethanol-blend fuels are growing in numbers across the Dakotas and Minnesota.

Community Spotlight - Working together to build two communities Technology - New mobile devices doing more with little


Leadership and Management Open door and open books opens up opportunities


South Dakota - Accelerator program assists entrepreneurs


Western North Dakota - MRISAR Institute The perfect blend of science and art




By the Numbers

4 Prairie Business

February 2012


Empower North Dakota developing cohesive energy program Empower North Dakota has taken a diverse group of energy players and developed a cohesive energy program to develop all of North Dakota’s energy resources.

Next Month In March, with the assistance of research from Praxis Strategy Group, Prairie Business will focus on how companies are finding workforce to fill the tough jobs in our region. Our Higher Education piece will address the public universities' infrastructure needs in North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota. In addition, Prairie Business will look at transportation needs in certain areas and the impact they have on our economy.

On the air Join Prairie Business magazine Editor Alan Van Ormer and host Merrill Piepkorn on Tuesday, February 14, at 3 p.m. on any Prairie Public radio station to hear more about the February cover stories. To listen to Prairie Public, visit


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From the editor’s desk

For daily business news visit

An SBA Award Winning Publication

Economy continuing to move forward in our region In general, heading into 2012, it seems the economy is remaining the same.

Mike Jacobs, Publisher Alan Van Ormer, Editor Zach Ahrens, General Manager Tina Fetsch, Production Manager Beth Bohlman, Circulation Manager Jen Braaten, Marketing Manager Joe Greenwood, Multi-Media Consultant Kris Wolff, Layout Design, Ad Design


Zach Ahrens



ost of the rest of the nation is still working its way out of a recession. Right here, in our own backyard, the economy is taking off and everything is pretty

Brad Boyd

800.641.0683 western ND/western SD

positive. As you will read in one of the February cover stories that talks about rural broadband projects, millions of dollars are being spent to upgrade the region’s broadband backbone system, which allows companies to start businesses from every corner of North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota. Broadband allows users to access information via the Internet using one of several high-speed transmission technologies. In December, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis released its economic report for 2012. The Ninth District, which is made up of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, is expected to grow moderately in 2012, according to the Minneapolis Fed’s forecasting models and outlook surveys. The district is “enjoying strong agriculture, mining and oil industries, healthy manufacturing exports and moderate consumer spending growth with subdued price increases.” In addition, in our special story dealing with the workforce, businesses are continuing to hire as is evident by the numbers of employees that are needed in the three-state region. For example, South Dakota has almost 10,000 jobs openings. Many of those job openings are for skilled or professional positions, like welders, engineers and accountants, but fewer than 200 welders, engineers, and accountants are receiving unemployment benefits in South Dakota today. Also, Praxis Strategy Group, headquartered in Grand Forks, N.D., developed an analyst report for Prairie Business to use as part of its workforce story. Part of the report shows the jobs that the region is seeing as tough to fill. These include truck drivers, sales representatives, physicians and surgeons, dentists, engineering jobs – industrial, civil, mechanical – just to name few, and welders and machinists. So needless to say, while the economy is still moving forward in the three-state region, business leaders will be looking for ways to find the employees to sustain that growth in 2012.

John Fetsch

701.212.1026 eastern ND/MN/eastern SD


EDITOR: Alan Van Ormer Editorial Advisors:

Dwaine Chapel, Executive Director, Lake Area Improvement Corporation; Bruce Gjovig, Director, Center for Innovation; Lisa Gulland-Nelson, Communications Coordinator, Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC; Tonya Jo (T. J.) Hansen, Assistant Professor of Economics, Minnesota State University Moorhead; Dusty Johnson, Chief of Staff for South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office; Brekka Kramer, General Manager of Odney; Matthew Mohr, President/CEO, Dacotah Paper Company; Nancy Straw, President, West Central Initiative Prairie Business magazine is published monthly by the Grand Forks Herald and Forum Communications Company with offices at 375 2nd Avenue North, Grand Forks, ND 58203. Qualifying subscriptions are available free of charge. Back issue quantities are limited and subject to availability ($2/copy prepaid). The opinions of writers featured in Prairie Business are their own. Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, artwork are encouraged but will not be returned without a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Subscription requests: Free subscriptions are available online to qualified requestors at

Address corrections: Prairie Business magazine PO Box 6008 Grand Forks, ND 58206-6008 Beth Bohlman:

Online: 6 Prairie Business

February 2012


Even in this digital world your business success still depends on your ability to create strong relationships.

DALE CARNEGIE TRAINING Celebrating 100 years of success worldwide and right here in North Dakota, Western Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska. For information regarding opportunities in your area: NORTH DAKOTA call 866-900-DALE or visit our website__________________ at SOUTH DAKOTA and NEBRASKA call 800-888-1425 or visit our website at


A passion for architecture

Professional Spotlight: Gloria Larsgaard:

Being named the ‘Young Architect of the Year’ in North Dakota in 2011 was quite a surprise for Gloria Larsgaard, an architect for EAPC Architects Engineers in Minot, N. D.

his has been a year full of exciting changes with the move to our Minot office, but with the excitement there has been a lot of hard work and it is very gratifying that it is noted and celebrated,” she says. Larsgaard earned her Doctorate in Architecture from the University Federico II of Naples, Italy in December 1996. She did a Thesis in Architecture at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N. D. in 2001. She has been with EAPC since 1998 working as a project architect and project manager, specializing in higher education and health care. She also mentors interns through their architectural licensing processes. EAPC is a multi-discipline architecture and engineering firm with locations in Grand Forks, Fargo, Bismarck, Minot, Williston, N. D., Bemidji, Minn., Norwich, Vt., and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In almost 14 years of working at EAPC, Larsgaard has seen technology have a dramatic impact in architecture. “Computer programs are available to the architects and the clients to create realistic 3D virtual models that can allow you to tour a building in the design phase, long before any construction has started,” she


GLORIA LARSGAARD Architect, EAPC Architects Engineers

says. “The internet has also become another valuable resource. What took hours of research now is available at the click of a button and allows the architect more time to assemble the data acquired in a creative way.” She often says that she has the best job in the world because as an architect she learns new things and meets new people. “Every project is a new challenge and it is very different from the one before,” she notes. “I came out of school with a passion for architecture and have been able to create a career that I find extremely rewarding and gratifying thanks to the people I work with and the clients I get to meet every day.” As for advice for younger women heading on a career path, Larsgaard states the architecture profession is predominantly employed by men, therefore a woman can feel she is scrutinized more from time to time. “However, people are most concerned with obtaining quality than a difference in gender,” she explains. “So my advice would be: “Pick your passion, study hard, pursue competence and quality and don't stop until you achieve your goal.” PB

Business Advice



It has been said “You can not do good business with bad partners”, and for the most part this is found to be true. icking good partners in business is very important. So many people make promises which they fail to fulfill and by making big promises, they destroy their reputation and ability to attract new good business partners. One of my most frustrating experiences occurred when I presented a business purchase opportunity to a group of local business men which was to be discussed


8 Prairie Business

February 2012

in confidence. The seller provided information to a broker to be used only in confidence to qualified buyers. Fortunately, I explained to the broker that a group would look at the opportunity for a partnership deal. Unfortunately, one of the group of people called the potential seller to inquire about buying the business himself, which totally killed the opportunity. The potential seller was furious, as was the broker. I faced uncalled for embarrassment and the broker will hardly talk to me about deals any longer. A simple little breach of trust made by what one would think is a good partner, dramatically affected me, my reputation, and all my business partners. The lack of sale turned out as a great benefit for the potential seller, who weathered a few lean years, but is now enjoying record volume. The potential “bad partner” is also doing great with his current business. A lot of people will promise you big opportunities to become a partner with them, but far too often, once they get what they want from you, your support of them is forgotten. Pick your partners carefully in an attempt to choose good solid partners for long-term successful relationships. PB

MATTHEW D. MOHR CEO, Dacotah Paper Company

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Prairie News

Press releases and photos about business news and events in North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota can be e-mailed to for consideration

SPECTRUM AEROMED COMPLETES AIR AMBULANCE EQUIPPED PILATUS PC-12 INTERIOR FOR VALLEY MED FLIGHT Spectrum Aeromed, in Fargo, N. D., has completed customizing a Pilatus PC-12 with a single system medical interior for Grand Forks, N. D.-based Valley Med Flight. The PC-12 will be stationed in Williston, N. D. The Air Ambulance equipped PC-12 has all the vital life-saving equipment needed to help transport critical patients to hospitals for treatment. The PC-12 also will be able to serve a large footprint in the western part of North Dakota. Valley Med Flight has three aircraft in their fleet and has been in operation for more than a year. They have transported more than 200 patients.

JLG ARCHITECTS, DAVISON LARSON ASSOCIATES MERGE Davison Larson Associates (DLA), the oldest firm in Minot, N. D., has merged with JLG Architects (JLG). JLG is the largest and most awarded architecture firm in the state, with almost 60 employees, six offices, and more than 70 design awards. DLAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s present partners, Donald Davison, AIA and Douglas Larson, AIA, will join JLG as firm partners. JLG also has offices in Grand Forks, Fargo, and Bismarck, N. D., and Alexandria and Minneapolis,.

MASABA EXPANSION EVIDENCE OF MANUFACTURING BOOM IN VERMILLION After only five years in business, Masaba Mining Equipment of Vermillion, S.D., is undergoing its third expansion. The bulk-handling equipment manufacturer is adding a 50,000-square-foot building adjacent to its current facility. The new building will house a sandblasting and painting chamber to put the finishing touches on equipment the company produces. The painting facility is slated for completion in the spring of 2012. Masaba Mining Equipment is helping to shape a larger trend of manufacturing success in Vermillion. The aggregate payroll in the manufacturing industry rose from $5.2 million in 2008 to more than $6.9 million in 2010. Part of the reason for the increase in payroll is the creation of new jobs in Vermillion. Masaba alone added 50 additional positions in 2011. Projections show Masaba will need to add 70 additional jobs in the next one to three years.

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February 2012

KRAUS-ANDERSON COMPLETES ESSENTIA HEALTH FACILITY IN MINNESOTA Kraus-Anderson® Construction Company (KA), one of the nation’s premier commercial general contractors and construction managers, has completed a 17-month, multi-phase project of the Essentia Health facility in Fosston, Minn. This is the second project that KA has completed on the Essentia Health Fosston campus. The project integrates the existing clinic with the hospital and features a new main building entry, new surgery suite addition and renovation, lab relocation and expansion, and medical records relocation. It also includes a new registration and waiting area for the combined clinic and hospital.

PLAINS ART MUSEUM MEETS BURGUM FAMILY CHALLENGE MATCH GOAL Plains Art Museum, in Fargo, N. D., has reached—and surpassed—a $200,000 challenge grant fundraising goal set by the Burgum family of Fargo. The funds will be used toward construction of the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity at Plains Art Museum. The challenge grant was announced on Dec. 15, the same day that a $300,000 donation from the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Trust was announced for the Center for Creativity project. A total of 78 donors contributed $250,000, exceeding the goal set by the challenge grant. The Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Center for Creativity will open in fall 2012. Its programs will replace the current Creative Arts Studio at Clara Barton Elementary and will provide services for 6,000 Fargo Public School students and 8,000 total participants in its first year of operation.

STATE BANK & TRUST AGREES TO PURCHASE HAWLEY BANK State Bankshares, the holding company that owns State Bank & Trust in Fargo, has entered into an agreement to purchase First National Bank, with locations in Hawley and Dilworth, Minn. Completion of the purchase is subject to regulatory approval. There are about 20 employees at the Hawley and Dilworth locations. First National Bank was chartered in Hawley in 1905. Owner Curt Neumann joined the bank in 1984; his son, Jon, joined the staff in 1994. After the purchase by State Bank & Trust, the Neumanns will no longer be involved in the bank’s operation. With assets of more than $2 billion, State Bank & Trust is the largest independently owned bank in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. State Bank & Trust operates 14 bank locations in Fargo, West Fargo and Wahpeton, N. D., and Moorhead, Audubon, Detroit Lakes, Pelican Rapids, Fergus Falls and Alexandria, Minn., as well as trust offices in Fargo and Bismarck.


Prairie News

Press releases and photos about business news and events in North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota can be e-mailed to for consideration



Valley City State University’s online master of education program earned national rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s first-ever edition of Top Online Education Programs. Appearing in the category “Graduate Programs – Education,” VCSU’s is the only program offered by a North Dakota college or university to be ranked in this category. In this first year of publication, U.S. News surveyed all 1,053 regionally accredited institutions it determined offered at least one master’s level program in education in 2010. It only considered programs with at least 80 percent of their course content available online and which could supply a full academic year’s worth of data (161 institutions). The ranking indicators applied some of the standards used for traditional schools and new measures specific to online programs. The indicators in which VCSU’s program received a national ranking include: Student Services & Technology (ranked 51st); Faculty Credentials & Training (ranked 57th); Student Engagement & Accreditation (ranked 53rd.) More information on the rankings is available at

The first-ever edition of Top Online Education Program rankings by U.S. News & World Report finds the University of Minnesota, Crookston ranked nationally among the top 40 colleges and universities in two separate categories for its online bachelor’s degree programs. The U of M, Crookston earned the 32nd spot out of 173 colleges and universities nationally in the Teaching Practices and Student Engagement category and 40th out of 179 schools nationally in the category Student Services and Technology. U.S. News & World Report created these rankings in response to today’s high demand for education provided in a flexible manner. Online education has become increasingly popular due to this flexibility. The U of M, Crookston currently offers 10 degree programs entirely online (these degrees are also offered more traditionally on-campus as well). They include Accounting (B.S.), Applied Health (B.A.H.), Applied Studies (B.S.), Business (B.S.), Communication (B.S.), Health Management (B.S.), Information Technology Management (B.S.), Manufacturing Management (B.M.M.), Marketing (B.S.), and Quality Management (B.M.M.). These online programs are administered through the Center for Adult Learning.

ODNEY’S NEW CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM SIMPLIFIES WEBSITE Odney, headquartered in Bismarck, N. D., a regional leader in providing web and interactive services, recently launched its new web content management system, SmartAdmin. The system’s simple, powerful tools and functions give users more options and flexibility in managing their sites, ultimately making website management easier and more efficient. SmartAdmin can add, edit or delete text, photos, links and other content to a website, all through a simple browser interface. The new toolbar makes it easy to format text in bold, italic or underline; create bulleted lists; create tables; add links and images; tag content and more.

NORTH DAKOTA RECEIVING MORE THAN $275 MILLION IN EMERGENCY HIGHWAY FUNDING More than $275 million in federal highway funding has been authorized to shore up roadways throughout North Dakota that were damaged by floodwaters last year. This is part of more than $316 million North Dakota will receive in federal Emergency Relief (ER) funding, a record for the state, and nearly 25 percent of all federal emergency relief funding to be distributed nationwide. The total dollar figure includes more than $89 million for threatened roadways throughout the Devils Lake region, more than $50 million for the West James River Basin, more than $39 million for the South Mouse River Basin and more than $9 million in the Sheyenne/James River Basin. The delegation secured an additional $88 million total to deliver additional support for each of these regions under the appropriation for 2011. This funding was awarded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program through funds appropriated by Congress.

EIDE BAILLY AND WIPFLI ANNOUNCE PLANS TO MERGE Eide Bailly LLP and Wipfli LLP, two prominent accounting and consulting firms that rank among the largest in the country, have announced plans to merge their professional practices. Pending regulatory approval, the two firms will officially combine on June 1. EB Wipfli LLP will rank among the nation’s top 15 accounting firms, with annual revenue of more than $314 million. Combined, the new firm will serve more than 70,000 clients from 41 offices across the west-central United States and two offices in India. EB Wipfli will provide a comprehensive range of audit, tax, accounting, consulting and professional advisory services to public and private companies.

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BROOKINGS FIRM RANKED AMONG BEST IN THE WORLD The editors of Construction Digital magazine have selected Brookings, S. D.-based Civil Design Inc. as one of the world’s top engineering firms. Of the 10 international companies selected by the magazine, CDI was ranked in the top five. Here is Construction Digital’s complete Top 10 list, published in a recent issue:

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J2 Engineering Florida, USA KBR Texas, USA Worleyparsons, Ltd. North Sydney, Australia SNC-Lavalin, Inc. Montreal, Quebec China Communications Construction Group – Beijing, China Civil Design, Inc. South Dakota, USA Enterprise Electric Tennessee, USA Black & Veatch Kansas, USA ARUP Group Ltd. London, England Qualis Corporation Alabama, USA

This isn’t the first time CDI has earned a distinguished honor. In 2008, Civil Design Inc. was ranked first by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 50 fastest growing, privately held independent engineering firms in the nation. CDI also earned the number 585 spot on the same magazine's "Top 5,000" list of the country's fastest growing, privately held, independent companies.


Prairie People

Please e-mail photos and press release announcements of hirings, promotions, awards and distinctions received by business leaders in North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota to for consideration.

CHRIS NELSON ELECTED AS NEW PUC CHAIRMAN Chris Nelson is the new chairman of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. Nelson is beginning his second year on the commission. He was appointed in January 2011 by Gov. Dennis Daugaard to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Dusty Johnson. Nelson moved into the chairman’s position after serving as vice chairman since June 2011. He is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners and is on that group’s Committee on Telecommunications. Prior to joining the PUC, Nelson was the South Dakota Secretary of State for eight years.




NORTH DAKOTA GUARANTY AND TITLE COMPANY SELECTS NEW PRESIDENT Tim Pearson has been named the president of North Dakota Guaranty and Title Company in Bismarck, N. D. The company’s board of directors appointed Pearson president effective Jan. 1 Pearson previously served as a senior vicepresident of the company and has 32 years of experience in the title industry in Southern California and North Dakota. He currently serves on the Stewart Title Guaranty National Advisory Board and is active in the American Land Title Association.




14 Prairie Business





Representatives of the construction, banking and utilities industries have been added to the South Dakota Rural Enterprise Board of Directors. Representing a wide range of business endeavors in all corners of the state, the new directors each bring to the organization a wealth of experience and dedication to economic development. Joining the board are: Scott Parsley, assistant general manager for Member Services at East River Electric Power Cooperative, based in Madison. Parsley has worked for East River for 25 years and in his current position since 1990. David Rozenboom, president of First PREMIER Bank in Sioux Falls. The immediate past chair of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, Rozenboom was previously an executive at US Bank, with four years in Aberdeen and 22 in Sioux Falls. James L. Scull, Jr., president of Scull Construction Service and Site Work Specialists of Rapid City. A civil engineering graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Scull has extensive experience in the construction industry, including work on commercial construction, utilities construction and installations, site work and demolition.

February 2012

Stacey Ackerman has been promoted to regional fiduciary manager for North Dakota and outstate South Dakota for Wells Fargo Private Bank in Fargo, N. D. In her new role, Ackerman will have responsibility for the trust business in the state of North Dakota and the communities of Aberdeen, Watertown and Rapid City in South Dakota. Ackerman joined Wells Fargo in 1994 as a professional banker trainee. She joined the trust department in 1998 as an Investment Representative and was named senior trust team manager in 2009.



Award-winning M2M business solutions provider Pedigree Technologies, Fargo, N. D., has appointed three executives to provide continued leadership as the company grows in response to market trends and the increasing adoption of connected devices to track, monitor, and manage fixed and mobile equipment and assets. The executive leadership team includes Brian Gramer, chief operations and revenue officer, and Jim Spielman, chief financial officer. Vice President of Marketing and Product Development Ian McPherson has been promoted to chief strategy officer. Gramer is an entrepreneur who recognized and delivered the business value of Software as a Service when the technology was first introduced to market. In his role as chief operations and revenue officer, Gramer will oversee business development, sales operations, solution delivery, and account management. Spielman will be responsible for leading the company’s financial strategies and execution, including analyzing various growth opportunities, raising capital, and managing investor relations. Prior to joining Pedigree Technologies, Spielman was the CFO of Intelligent InSites, a healthcare enterprise visibility software company. With more than 20 years of experience as an analyst, entrepreneur, and marketing and product management executive, McPherson is responsible for driving OneView solution strategy, product development, and marketing. McPherson was co-founder and vice president of Marketing and Solution Architecture at Apprion.

Make the switch. Mike did.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Your online magazine is stellar.â&#x20AC;? - Mike Hammerberg, retired Cooperstown, N.D., educator.

Business Prairie

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Company Spotlight: Martinson Insurance Agency

Growing with the Alexandria, Minn., community When Marvin Martinson started Martinson Insurance Agency with his wife, Delois, in 1962, they sold nothing but life insurance.

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February 2012

oday, Martinson Insurance Agency provides various insurance needs for more than 2,500 clients. Martinson Insurance Agency is licensed in Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Arizona. An estimated 95 percent of the clients are within a 50-mile radius. The insurance agency provides various insurance needs such as auto, home, life, health, business and farm. Owner and Agent Marvin Martinson says the key to the company’s success has been its personal service. “We treat clients like we would like to be treated ourselves,” he states. “Retention is very high. Clients become our friends.” Throughout 2012 Prairie Business is featuring 50-year-old companies that continue to thrive and grow throughout the three-state region. Martinson actually started in the banking industry and had a notion to go back into the industry at times during his insurance career. But he chose to stay with a career in insurance and in October 1962 Martinson Insurance


Agency was started. A year later, Martinson added health insurance products and then in 1964, automobile and homeowners insurance became part of the package. The insurance agency started in the Martinson’s home four blocks from its current site near downtown. Then in 1974, Martinson Insurance Agency moved to the Garden Center Bowling building and then two years later, Martinson purchased a 5,000 square foot building where the insurance agency has operated ever since. In 2000, there was a major remodeling project completed at its current location. The building was completely redone from both the inside and outside. The Alexandria Area Chamber of Commerce honored Martinson Insurance Agency with the first Business Beautification Award. The major change in the 50 years in the insurance business has been technology. “We sold life insurance with a yellow pad and a rate book,” Martinson notes. “Today, it is a lot more complicated with federal regulations.” Martinson Insurance Agency has been able

to roll with the changes over the years; in particular, the automation and technology of doing business. “It is not cheap. It is costly to upgrade technology,” Martinson says, adding that he could spend $30,000-$40,000 on technology upgrades and then three-to-four years later, it can become obsolete. Martinson also says throughout the years his company has worked through what he has said are ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ markets. A hard market is when the company’s rates increase, while a soft market entails lower rates. Currently, Martinson says the insurance industry is in a soft market. “However, within the next year I believe it will become a hard market,” he says. “We could see a rate increase in any line of our business. Part of the reason is the economy. Part of the reason is interest rates. Part of the reason is claims.” Another challenge is the right growth opportunities. “Every company wants to grow,” Martinson says. “However, in the insurance industry, we reach points where it is difficult to grow.” Government involvement in health insurance is also a challenge for the insurance industry, Martinson states. “It is a challenge to keep up with the federal regulations,” he adds. Martinson feels he made the right decision staying in the insurance business. “Alexandria has been very good to us,” says Martinson, who now has eight employees working in the insurance business. “We have been part of seeing Alexandria grow.” When he came to Alexandria in 1962, the community had 5,000 people. Today, the population is estimated to be more than 12,000 people. “Alexandria was the right place. We moved at the right time,” Martinson says. “We’re optimistic we will be here and serving people for years to come. We will roll with the changes. “It might be old fashioned to provide personal service, but it is still the right way to do business,” he explains. PB Alan Van Ormer -

Martinson Insurance Agency Alexandria, Minn. Startup Year: 1962 Headquarters:

8 What they do: Employees:

Provide all lines of insurance such as auto, home, life, health, business and farm, and annuities and Medicare supplements


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Developing, maintaining relationships at heart of marketing UND Unmanned Aircraft Systems

There have been specialized advertisements, videos, media campaigns and presentations to governmental bodies and private businesses.

18 Prairie Business

February 2012

ut at its essence, marketing the University of North Dakota’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) enterprise is about creating and maintaining relationships and partnerships. Every successful program has at least one hard-working champion, and UND’s UAS champion of champions is Al Palmer, director of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence and a retired brigadier general of the North Dakota Air National Guard. His passion, insight, knowledge, administrative skill, high energy and ability to develop relationships – to connect with any and everybody and help them understand UND’s vision for the future of UAS — have put Palmer at the heart of the skyrocketing success of UND’s UAS mission. Palmer will be embarrassed by that paragraph. He would be the first to say – to insist – that the success of UND’s UAS mission comes from many people and organizations. People like his boss, Bruce Smith, dean of UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, UND Vice President for Research and Economic Development Phyllis Johnson, and UND President Robert Kelley, who cites the UAS mission as an example of the “Exceptional UND.” And Palmer would be absolutely correct. A description of the program’s successful marketing is really a


Community & Technical College. Orbiting the campus nucleus is a host of star partners. These include the Grand Forks Air Force Base, which in 2011 provided the unique opportunity for UND and a private company, L-3 Communications, to create the on-Base L-3/UND UAS Training Center. Other stars are North Dakota’s Congressional Delegation, the Office of the Governor, the Grand Forks Economic Development Corporation, the North Dakota Department of Commerce Economic Development & Northrop Grumman, one of 15 UAS Finance, The Chamber of Grand Forks and companies operating in the Grand Forks region, donated a full-scale model of a Block East Grand Forks, the City of Grand Forks, 10 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system the Base Realignment Impact Committee, to NCTC as part of the 2011 UAS Action Summit. Grand Forks will host the 2012 which have been champions for the UAS Summit May 22-23. Photo courtesy of mission. The Red River Valley Research Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority. Corridor promotes UAS development through a series of action summits. The marketing success of UND’s UAS program is the result of the North Dakota Spirit: the willingness to collaborate for the common good, the litany of partners, of individuals and organizations that have expended understanding that together — the North Dakota University System; enormous time, talent and treasure to help position UND’s UAS federal, state and local government; the private sector — we can build program as the best in the world. Only the University of North Dakota, new enterprises and programs that will benefit all of North Dakota. for example, has developed a degree program in Unmanned Aircraft PB Systems and already has graduates from that program. Think of the growing UAS program as an expanding galaxy of stars. At the galaxy’s center is the campus itself and the many University units that contribute to the success of the program. The literal center is the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence, funded through the state’s Centers of Excellence program and enhanced with a mix of federal and private enterprise dollars. Joining this John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences program as part of the campus hub are the School of Engineering and Mines, critical to the development of UAS systems such as developing sense and avoid technologies (how else does a UAS vehicle avoid a flock of Canada geese?) and payload packages; UND’s College of Business and Public Administration and Center for Innovation; UND’s College of Nursing and Department of Psychology, which are helping to understand the human factors involved in operating UAS vehicles; and more. Other higher education partners include North Dakota State University and Northland

Peter B. Johnson is the executive associate vice president for University Relations/media relations coordinator at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N. D. He can be reached at


Region has challenges in finding workforce Each state in this region has its own set of challenges when it comes to retaining and attracting workforce. In a nutshell, employers in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota all need employees of some kind. or example, the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation lists nearly 10,000 job openings in its employment system. Many of those job openings are for skills or professional positions, like welders, engineers and accountants, but fewer than 200 welders, engineers, and accountants are receiving unemployment benefits in South Dakota today. “This is the single largest barrier keeping our employers from investing more into South Dakota. We have incredible professionals and technicians, but we need more of them,” states Dustin ‘Dusty’ Johnson, Chief of Staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “South Dakota is better positioned than almost any state in the union to come out of these soft economic times, but that will not happen unless we address the workforce challenges facing our state.” In South Dakota, over the last year, Gov. Daugaard has talked with countless employers about what challenges they face. He’s taken those face-to-face conversations to heart as he’s developed his workforce plan. “Established Labor Market Information projection methodologies are being used to determine future workforce needs. The South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation (DLR) also monitors job opening numbers and types,” states Pam Roberts, secretary for the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. “Additionally, the Governor and GOED staff have recently travelled across the state and visited with employers both large and small to discuss their immediate workforce needs. One workforce summit has been held at the regional level for the James River Valley, which brought together business owners, HR staff, state and local government representatives, and education and economic development representatives. We are listening to employers.” In North Dakota, the state’s economy has been expanding across most sectors and is being led by energy and agriculture, which results in a large increase in job openings posted on the state’s Online Job Opening Report.


South Dakota Job Openings December December December December

27, 27, 27, 27,

2011 ...... 2010 ...... 2009 ...... 2008........

9,694 5,813 5,747 9,030

Those associated with oil and gas activities include construction and extraction, as well as transportation and metal moving. Then there are the transitional jobs that include food preparation, personal care and sales related jobs. “With such a strong economy companies are making special accommodations to attract and retain groups that are generally not as attached to the labor market (student aged persons, retirement age persons, persons who may have chosen to be stay at home caregivers, disabled persons,)” states Michael Ziesch, research analyst for Job Service North Dakota. “The contribution of out-of-state job seekers has been important, with interest often times spurred by national media pieces.” Each of the states have tools that they use to understand what types of jobs are available and where the jobs are going to be.

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February 2012

North Dakota’s latest Jobs Report shows that preliminary estimates indicate North Dakota employment expanded on a year-over-year basis in November. Employers reported an estimated 17,400 more jobs when compared to November 2010, a 4.5 percent gain. The private-industry leaders include Mining & Logging (+4,900), Construction (+3,800), and Professional & Business Services (+2,600). Three of the remaining 10 industries also reported gains of 1,000 or more jobs. Government reported the largest over-the-year decrease in jobs (-1,000). The Jobs Report is updated monthly using data extracted from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program. The report is a snapshot of the state's current labor market and summarizes payroll or non-farm employment estimates for North Dakota and its three metro areas (Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks).

North Dakota Employment Estimates Year-Over-Year Percent Change November 2010 - November 2011 6% 5% 4% 3% 2% 1% 0%














In Minnesota, employers are looking for quick access to skilled workers, sometimes for short times, due to uncertain short- and longterm business prospects. WorkForce Centers provide a tremendous amount of useful information for jobseekers – ranging from job counseling to Job Search classes to labor market information to the MinnesotaWorks.Net job bank, and much more. In the southwest region, the WorkForce Council also created a regional careers website ( to inform jobseekers of occupations in demand from employers in the region; and all WorkForce Center staff have been trained on how to use the different labor market information resources. “We also work with students and at-risk youth to help them plan for their education and careers and understand labor market information,” says Cameron Macht, southwest Minnesota regional analyst for the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). “In southwest Minnesota, more than 1,800 high school sophomores attend the annual Southwest Minnesota Career Expo to learn about careers in demand in the region.” Nate Dorr, northwest Minnesota regional analyst for DEED, says that the agriculture industry drives the Red River Valley economy. Fargo-Moorhead is the regional center, with health care and education services, but also with IT and other professional services and goods producing. “We believe the skilled labor supply in Minnesota is critical to the Red River Valley and Fargo’s economic vitality,” Dorr says. “Of course with lakes in Minnesota, people will commute a longer distance to live on a lake in Minnesota, while working a high pay job in Fargo (if they can find one).” WHAT WILL THE WORKFORCE LOOK LIKE IN THE FUTURE? Johnson states that Gov. Daugaard wants a workforce that is better prepared for the challenges of a modern economy. “The STEM fields and skilled trade positions will play an incredibly important part in the future,” he explains. “States that aren’t paving the way today for that future are going to be left behind.”

Roberts adds, as with nationally, South Dakota’s workforce will continue to age largely due to the vast number of baby boomers. Those 65 and older made up approximately 15 percent of South Dakota’s population in 2010, and are projected to constitute about 19 percent by 2020, and over 23 percent by 2030.

challenge. “We must effectively use our labor supply to fill high-demand occupations in South Dakota, determine what skills employers are seeking, provide appropriate training, and connect with under-employed workers to retool their skills to match those in demand,” she says. In southwest Minnesota, the workforce will likely grow older and become more diverse. “The number of white people is declining in the region, while people of other races and origins are increasing,” Macht adds. “Likewise, the number of young adults has been declining, while the number of older adults has been increasing.” There are also key changes in northwest Minnesota including an increased demand for specialized training beyond high school, increasing diversification among the labor force, more women graduating college than men, aging labor force and work for retirees, and continued need for entrepreneurs to maintain and grow local economies. Small towns continue to lose people to larger regional economic centers (“brain drain” still occurs), and eventually lose services,” Dorr states. “Global pressures force the local labor force to survive on quality and innovation, not commodities or quantity.” PB

HOW DOES COLLABORATION IMPACT WORKFORCE? “Although state population projections by ethnic groups are not available, national projections indicate minorities and immigrants will constitute a larger share of the population,” she says. “The same trends can be expected in South Dakota.” South Dakota’s school age population (those ages 5-17) was estimated at 139,534 in 2010 and is projected to be 144,085 in 2020. That age group is expected to number about 143,284 in 2025, and 141,609 by 2030. Proportionately, those of school age will hold fairly steady over the next 20 years, at 17.7 percent of the population in 2010, 18 percent in 2020, 17.9 percent in 2025, and 17.7 percent of the population by 2030. In North Dakota, Ziesch believes workers will need some level of post-high school training; STEM skills and soft skillscommunication, leadership, independent work, and critical thinking skills will be necessary. “We are experiencing the influence of outof-state jobs seekers and immigrants. So, it will likely be more heterogeneous,” he says. “All age cohorts of the workforce have been increasing (4th qtr 2009 vs. same period 2010.)” The key challenge in workforce is attracting and retaining workers in a competitive environment. “High demand for oilfield workers is frequently in discussion these days. Individuals of all skill levels are needed,” Ziesch says. “Workers with basic mechanical abilities, a valid driver’s license and a clean record may start at the entry level, but can work their way into more skilled jobs fairly quickly.” Johnson says one of the key challenges is making sure South Dakota companies can grow and continue to invest in the state. “A trained workforce is the largest barrier to that growth and investment,” he notes. Roberts states that working to fulfill South Dakota employers’ workforce needs is a key

To be continued... To read this story in its entirety visit

Tuesday, February 28 8 to 10 a.m., Holiday Inn of Fargo Register at or 218.233.1100

Featuring Stephen Moore, lead economist for the Wall Street Journal, and a panel of local business and industry leaders. Presented by:


‘Dedicated mobile website’ assists Fargo-Moorhead visitors Staying sophisticated in technology is one big reason the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau has launched a new ‘dedicated mobile website’ that allows visitors to get information and offers on what to do, where to eat or where to stay.

e had to stay sophisticated because browsers are more sophisticated,” states Cole Carley, president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead CVB. The new ‘dedicated mobile website,’, was launched in December providing access to community information with any smart phone, plus the location aware guide allows visitors to use the ‘nearest me’ feature to list and sort options, making exploring the community quicker. In addition to the ‘nearest me’ function for finding lodging and restaurants, the ‘what to do’ segment allows users to sort by type of activity or event. Local businesses and organizations are able to upload calendar information to the Fargo-Moorhead CVB website, and the content will appear on both platforms. Deals or discounts can be submitted to to be placed on both the website and the mobile site. “It’s all about meeting increased consumer expectations,” Carley states in a discussion about the mobile website launch. “Smart devices are rapidly


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22 RRV Prairie Business

February 2012

It’s all about the Red River Valley

moving to the top as the go-to-tool for information, whether to find a great coffee or a local hotspot. We want to make each visitor’s experience here enjoyable and making our visitors guide mobile helps accomplish that.” Research shows that by 2013, mobile sites will be outselling computers by almost double. In addition, 24 percent of all mobile users are using Smartphones. The research also shows that 93 percent of Smartphone users are at home and another 87 percent use the devices while on the go. Jennifer Strickler, vice president of User Experience for Flint Interactive, based in Fargo, N. D., led the team that designed the ‘dedicated mobile website.’ “Our goal was to design a clean, simple tool to help visitors navigate the wealth of options available in the Fargo-Moorhead area,” she says. Flint Interactive used the CVB’s brand elements and made it touch-friendly. It also included adding photographs and videos that showcase the energy of Fargo-Moorhead. Other things considered when doing the website were quick load time, easy navigation, and simple, helpful content. “Companies are starting to realize the importance of a mobilededicated version of their websites,” Strickler says. “As an extension of the brand, it’s important to give customers a positive user experience in mobile/tablet platform.” RRVPB Alan Van Ormer -


t Economic Developmen

g n i t c e n n o C ork a region to the global netw

cts are connecting je ro p nd a b d a ro b nt re Cur and underserved the region’s unserved twork. areas to the global ne “

nvestments in broadband technology create jobs and expand economic opportunities in rural America,” explains Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development State Director in North Dakota. “Broadband provides the capability for improved educational services, health care, public safety and spurs economic development.” Broadband allows users to access information via the Internet using one of several high-speed transmission technologies. Schneider notes that high-speed Internet is 21st century infrastructure and literally opens up the world to rural citizens; while decreasing the digital divide between urban and rural America. “Broadband successfully pairs hope with opportunity; it opens up avenues for rural


entrepreneurs; it provides access to a worldwide marketplace; it improves the quality of life and allows people to communicate with family, friends and business contacts,” he says. “There is no doubt that broadband makes living in rural America more attractive, people can enjoy the benefits of living in a rural community while having access to people and information from around the world.” In Fiscal Year 2011, USDA provided funding for the following North Dakota projects: *BEK Communications Cooperative — $26,746,000 in loan funds will be used to expand a Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) broadband system. Upon completion of this RUS-funded project, 100 percent of BEK’s subscribers will be served by fiber. *SRT Communications, Inc.—$24,832,000 in

Rendering of the new s DCN Network Operation Center and Collocation facility in Bismarck, N. D. (Rendering courtesy of DCN)

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February 2012

Midcontinent Communications Sioux Falls Dish. (Photo courtesy of Midcontinent Communications)

SDN Communications worker is pulling out conduit. (Photo courtesy of SDN Communications)

loan funds will be used to install 2,143 miles of buried fiber optic cable and related equipment throughout the proposed Fiber-To-the-Premise (FTTP) system. The FTTP system will be constructed in areas outside of towns in 12 of the borrower’s 26 exchanges. The service areas in the towns will continue to be offered DSL at speeds of at least 55 Mbps with its relatively new copper plant. *Polar Communications Mutual Aid Corporation—$32,939,000 in loan funds will be used to expand the Borrower’s FTTP broadband system throughout the borrower’s 18 exchanges. The upgraded system will help meet current and future requirements for delivery of voice, video and high speed data to subscribers. Upon completion of this RUS-funded project, 100 percent of Polar’s subscribers will be served with broadband via various technologies. *Reservation Telephone Cooperative —$2,293,000 be used to expand a (FTTP) broadband system. Dakota Carrier Network (DCN), headquartered in Bismarck, N. D., is also placing more fiber in the ground. DCN is using stimulus grant funding to place another 169 miles of fiber, which provides access to more than 175 anchor institutions that includes education, medical and government agencies. The project is slated to be completed in July 2013. DCN General Manager Evan Hass believes this project is good for North Dakota because it allows greater bandwidth in the state. “Businesses are increasing their bandwidth requirements,” he states. “We are keeping up with the increased demand in bandwidth.” Hass adds that businesses are trying to connect to multiple locations. “A stimulus project is different than other projects because it allows you to put more fiber in the ground in places that are not economically feasible,” Hass explains. Along with the stimulus project in 2012, DCN will be increasing its Ethernet backbone across North Dakota because it is running out of capacity and doesn’t have all the features and functions of a new backbone. The $3.5 million project will be completed this year and allows DCN to grow its Ethernet backbone up to 100 gigabytes, as well as accommodate the heavy growth in western North Dakota. In early 2012 DCN will complete construction of a new Network Operations Center and Collocation facility in Bismarck that is designed for survivability, including withstanding 200 mph winds. In South Dakota, SDN Communications, headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., is also using stimulus funds to expand its broadband network. SDN’s new fiber will provide connectivity to more than 300 anchor institutions – schools, rural hospitals and clinics, government office buildings, and local, county, state and federal office buildings – across the state. The communications company is approximately three-quarters complete and has built 250-350 miles of fiber and touched more than 200 anchor institutes. The remainder of the $25.7 million project is expected to be completed by the end of the year. “Our backbone will be primed and ready for the next decade of broadband growth,” says Mark Shlanta, who has been the CEO of SDN Communications since 2000. “Companies will have the fastest network experience on our network.” It will also assist those who have been connectivity challenged. “Because of the new fiber, new doors will be opened for communities for economic development,” he mentions. In 2011, Midcontinent acquired the Minnesota and Wisconsin assets of US Cable, adding more than 100 communities to its footprint. It also extended Midcontinent’s network across central and southern Minnesota. In 2012, Midcontinent will continue to work on upgrades of new properties in Minnesota, and work with customers to give them access to Midcontinent’s NPNet. Each year for the past several years, Midcontinent, also headquartered in Sioux Falls, has invested 10’s of millions of dollars to expand and upgrade its network. “In the past year we digitized our network to provide increased capacity to accommodate Internet speeds up to 100 Mbps and allowing access to over 100 High Definition T V channels,” says Tom Simmons, Senior Vice President of Public Policy, adding the upgrades mean that South Dakota business customers in communities served by Midcontinent and others will have access to the same or better quality communications infrastructure as any other in the country if not the world. “What remains is how those businesses choose to use the connectivity. The assumption that all rural communities are isolated by a digital divide is simply not true and our business customers are free to compete with those located in the major metro areas if they choose to do so.” In a nutshell, Simmons feels it is important to provide broadband to the region for three reasons: our customers need and demand robust reliable broadband services, broadband is a base requirement for any level of economic development and broadband is an educational requirement to prepare our young people to compete in a world economy. PB Alan Van Ormer - For more information about local broadband companies visit



Traditional marketing still has its place ing in the social media With all that is happen pes of marketing still network, traditional ty keting community. have a place in the mar raditional mediums deliver you a story and brings you something you didn’t expect,” states Jon Thorp, creative and public relations director for The Promersberger Company in Fargo, N. D. “Traditional mediums also bring ideas to you. It brings


26 Prairie Business

February 2012

you something of value.” Traditional marketing is the company’s primary focus and has been for close to 40 years. It started with consumer advertising, but in the last 20 years has moved more toward niche industries like construction and landscaping. However, The Promersberger Company is doing more with electronic and social mediums. “That niche is very traditional,” Thorp explains, however, adding that non-traditional mediums are becoming more important to our industry. Roger Reierson, CEO and chairman of Flint Group, also headquartered in Fargo, a network of agencies that provides full-service marketing and communications, says as digital and online marketing have become part of the new mix of media you can use to reach customers and prospects, it’s changed the way we need to look at traditional marketing. “The advent of the Internet has started people thinking differently,” Reierson states. “It is important that traditional media is in the mix and they all have to work together. As we learn more about the digital world, we learn it’s created more of a conversation in marketing. We realize the existing and prospective customers want interaction to learn more about products and services. Learning how to use online and digital mediums in tandem will only strengthen traditional marketing.” Thorp and Reierson consider traditional mediums an assortment of marketing outside of digital and online mediums and could include newspapers, periodicals, magazines, traditional broadcast mediums and direct mail. “In my mindset, traditional marketing isn’t dead. It’s transforming,” Thorp notes. “Companies understand that people are looking online. Traditional marketing is a way to direct them to the right base.” Thorp provides this example that traditional marketing is changing. “Direct leads are not the goal anymore,” he states. “Traditional marketing works best to move a person from point A to point B – but with point B being a visit to a website, microsite or other information source.” Reierson says that since budgets are not increasing at the rate of different media entering the market place, the media mix is being spread thinner and there are more choices for the dollar. Educating yourself on how to take an integrated approach in your advertising mix is more important than ever, he notes. “We have to look at how we can get the maximum value out of all the advertising through an integrated approach,” he says. “It is more of a science than it is has ever been.” Reierson notes that since marketing, in general, has become more complicated, his agency and others have added specialists to understand the impact of the new elements that go into a marketing plan. “The amount of new tools and information coming our way keeps accelerating but we need to stay on top of it,” he states. “It’s not something you can just jump into because it’s there.” In order for traditional marketing to continue to be competitive, changes have to occur, according to Thorp.

ve and rp, creati Jon Tho tions director la public re romersberger P for The pany in Com . D. Fargo, N

✘ Roger Reierson, CEO and chairm an of Flint Group

✘ Expectations have to change. Traditional marketing should cast a wide net to get prospects to the next level of communication. ✘ Traditional marketing should offer a response device to help provide metrics to determine the message’s effectiveness. ✘ Understanding the value of traditional marketing. It is not as effective of a direct response mechanism anymore. ✘ Focus on grabbing attention to look further. ✘ More strategic. There must be a defined reason for everything you do – traditional or non-traditional. ✘ Hone down the message. Focus on one message that you want your audience to come away with. “Traditional media is one of the few cost effective ways to reach certain people,” Thorp explains. “It comes down to expectations. We know it is reaching the right people. Traditional marketing may be less impactful than in the past, but at least you know who is receiving it.” Thorp adds that most marketing companies look at what is best for the money that is being spent. “It doesn’t mean the medium is dead, it just needs to change,” he says. “As long as there are still audiences for traditional mediums, then there are effective marketing devices to reach them. Advertisers just need to be more strategic.” Reierson states that traditional marketing is ‘absolutely’ not obsolete. “I don’t think the impact has become obsolete, it has changed,” he says. “I truly believe the new media mix is playing a role in strengthening the impact of traditional marketing, if it is used correctly.” PB Alan Van Ormer -


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hat is known is that even though the agency does not have a senateconfirmed director (as of Jan. 13, 2012), all banks, large and small, will ultimately be subject to the Bureau’s rules. Only banks with more than $10 billion in assets will be subject to its direct compliance examination authority. Because the Bureau’s consumer protection rules will be applied to banks under $10 billion by existing bank regulators like the Federal Reserve, FDIC and OCC, and because the Bureau also has the authority to review the results of compliance exams conducted on smaller banks, Curt Everson, president of the South Dakota Bankers Association, thinks “it is pretty clear that all regulators are taking a second look at their compliance examination process and asking the question are we tough enough?”. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was the consumer protection centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank Law. The Bureau has the responsibility and the authority to write all the regulations in relationship to consumer protection like truth in lending, truth in savings and home mortgage lending disclosure laws. Everson states, “I understand that the Bureau has about 500 people on its payroll, so I assume they are busy trying to rewrite the consumer financial protection rulebook.” Bankers do expect Dodd-Frank and the CFPB to have long-lasting impacts on important bank revenue streams, specifically interchange fee income. Regulatory burden and overall compliance costs are also a big concern. But the sheer size and complexity of Dodd-Frank is also


Rick Clayburgh, e O of th president and CE nkers North Dakota Ba Association

Curt Everson, president of the South Dakota tion nk Ba ers Associa

28 Prairie Business

February 2012

causing problems for all of the regulators charged with its implementation. As of the end of 2011, about 200 Dodd-Frank rulemaking deadlines have passed and nearly three-fourths of those deadlines have been missed; some by bank regulators, some by the CFPB and some by other federal regulatory agencies, Everson notes. According to Everson, “All of these factors work together to create uncertainty for banks of all shapes and sizes.” Rick Clayburgh, president and CEO of the North Dakota Bankers Association, doesn’t believe that this is good for community banks. “Part of the problem is that Dodd-Frank passed through Congress without sufficient thought on the impact on community banks,” he says. “It was more of a knee jerk reaction to the financial crisis. In the end the folks getting most of the regulations are insured financial institutions who weren’t part of the problem.” As a trade organization, the North Dakota Bankers Association, works with regulators and their congressional delegation to point out the unintended consequences created by the legislation. “We are working to unwind regulatory actions that don’t make sense,” he states. “We are assisting our members through outreach and by providing member peer groups for compliance. “We help provide assistance with regulatory burdens coming down on them,” Clayburgh continues. “So in a sense, it is a two-front process – one working to address what we can fix from regulations and legislation and (and the other) providing assistance for what we can with regulatory pressures.” Mark Finstad, president of Ultima Bank

Minnesota in Fosston, Minn., says from his understanding that the role of the CPFB is to make rules, supervise and enforce federal consumer financial protection laws and restrict unfair, deceptive and abusive acts and practices with regard to consumer financial products and services. “They have already created a central phone number for consumer complaints. In addition, they are to promote financial education for consumers and research consumer behavior. They are also to monitor financial markets for risks to consumers and enforce laws prohibiting consumer discrimination,” he says. “While CPFB is and will be making rules for all financial institutions, Title 10 of the DoddFrank Act allows them to supervise and enforce rules only for financial institutions with assets greater than $10 billion.” Ultima Bank is under the $10 billion threshold, but Finstad expects that rules implemented by CPFB will be adopted and enforced by other financial regulators. “We are paying close attention and need to be ready to deal with the “trickle down” to smaller institutions,” he states. “We are particularly concerned with actual and potential “price fixing” of consumer financial products. Can you imagine if a grocer or hardware store owner were told by the government how much they could charge for a food item or tool? We are already seeing this in small consumer home mortgages where the interest rate and fees we are “allowed” to charge are regulated. Some banks have stopped doing these mortgages as a result, reducing the financing options available for smaller mortgages. In our small town markets, this is a real concern. We have a reputation for taking care of this niche but the new regulations are making it more difficult to serve our customers profitably.” Finstad feels it is bad when new government regulations limit the financing options of consumers. “We believe the competitive marketplace is where the price of products and services is best determined,” he says.

PB Alan Van Ormer


Economic Development

‘Remarkable’ economic activities occurring Contrary to statements made by some of my “friends,” folks from big cities located near the coasts, we live in a great part of the country.

ure, they refer to our homeland as “flyover states”, or the “lonely windswept prairie”, or my all-time favorite, “one of those uninhabited rectangular states in the north.” But if they bothered to really look at the Dakotas, all sarcasm would likely be replaced by intense interest if not envy. When the recession “officially” hit the nation in December of 2007, we were all bombarded by negative national media stories. Since the powers that be “officially” declared the recession over in July of 2009, recovery has been hardly noticeable in most of the country. Our part of the country stubbornly resisted the full economic downturn and associated pessimism. Our unemployment numbers grew no more than half that of the national average, mortgage foreclosures did not make the headlines, and the farm economy is rock solid. Business growth and construction certainly slowed, but that was more attributable to changes in lending policies driven by regulatory decisions and less about lack of confidence or interest on the part of the business community. We don’t have to dig deeply to find some pretty remarkable economic development activities that have continued during the recession and actually ramped up in the past couple of years, often scoring national recognition. The North Dakota Oil Patch may be the most notorious. A recent Wall Street Journal article predicted that 2012 would be the year when the Bakken reserve will pump more oil than Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. The Research Corridor in Eastern North Dakota has been working to propose Grand Forks as a major hub for unmanned aircraft. The go2030 project in Fargo may be one of the most exciting redevelopment programs in the country. Forward Sioux Falls just raised $12 million for the execution of a five year plan to bring high-quality jobs, diversify the local economy and build on research capabilities to train end educate the future workforce. Work continues in Rapid City and the Black Hills with a combination of opportunities at Ellsworth Air Force Base, the Deep Underground laboratory and developments at the School of Mines (South Dakota School of Mines & Technology). All four corners of the Dakotas are alive and well with activity. Our company has been party to increasing demand for “big pipe” data distribution through our NPNet. Some remarkable telemedicine projects allowing outlying areas access to specialists and consultants without leaving their home towns are becoming available to a growing number of folks in small Dakota towns. We have jobs for folks and need more folks for the jobs if they have the skills, the knowledge and willingness to partner with us Dakotans to chart a richer future. So to our friends on the coasts and those who have overlooked us in the past, you would do well to look a little closer. We may be what you’re looking for and our welcome mat is out. PB


Tom Simmons is the senior vice president of Public Policy for Midcontinent Communications, headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D. He can be reached at

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February 2012


Ethanol blender pumps growing in numbers Blender pumps offering consumers a variety of ethanol-blend fuels are growing in numbers across the Dakotas and Minnesota. “

e’re very satisfied with the progress of blender pump sales in North Dakota,” Tom Lilja, North Dakota Corn Growers Director, says. “In the past, a few stations may have had a pump dedicated to E85 in the corner. Now, blender pumps are right next to standard gasoline pumps and consumers are using the blended fuels.” North Dakota just surpassed installation of 200+ pumps at more than 50 locations across the state. The majority of pumps are found in the eastern two-thirds of North Dakota. Blends vary from E10 to E30 to E85. “There are a few stations that offer an E20 blend,” Lilja says. “Most of the pumps didn’t start going in until the 2010 construction season. The North Dakota legislature initiated the blender pump program during the 2009 session. In 2009, average monthly sales of ethanol blends were at 23,000 gallons. In 2011, sales of ethanol blends averaged 112,000 gallons per month and surpassed a million gallons in the


32 Prairie Business Energy

February 2012

first nine months. Our sales reports don’t currently break ethanol sales out into the different blends so it’s all reported as E85. It all comes down to access. If it’s available, consumers are choosing it.” Funding for installation of additional blender pumps in North Dakota is available to station owners through spring 2013. The state provides a $5,000 grant toward purchase of a pump. North Dakota Corn Growers Association offers an additional $2,500. The typical cost of a blender pump is $20,000. South Dakota was the first state to allow blender pump installations. Currently, the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) is accepting applications for financial assistance to help South Dakota retailers install blender pumps. The Ethanol Infrastructure Incentive Program was approved by state legislators during the 2011 session. It will redirect $3.5 million from the state’s Ethanol Producer Payments Program over the next five years. During 2012, $950,000 is available. The program was funded through a cooperative effort between the State of South Dakota and South Dakota Ethanol Producers. GOED, in conjunction with the South Dakota Ethanol Producers, the American Coalition for Ethanol, Growth Energy, South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association, and the South Dakota Association of Cooperatives held informative meetings about the blender pump grant program throughout January. Grants of up to $25,000 for installation of a station’s first blender pump are available through the new program. Applicants are also eligible to receive up to $10,000 for installation of each additional pump. Station owners participating in the program are required to offer 10 percent, 15 percent or 20 percent or more ethanol blends with the pumps. They’re also required to continue selling ethanol blends for a continuous 24 months following installation unless market conditions make compliance impractical.

The first grants will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis. The remaining 20 percent will be awarded competitively. “In past blender pump programs, grants were awarded to 29 stations to complete 61 installs,” Hunter Roberts, GOED Energy Policy Director, says. “We currently have 83 stations that feature blender pumps. Ethanol sales have continued to rise every year since the pumps were installed. We’re optimistic about the benefits and the growing demand for ethanol blends. Through these installation programs, consumers have the option to choose ethanol blends. We’re happy to give them that opportunity.” South Dakota is home to 15 ethanol production facilities and nearly 900 people are directly employed by the ethanol industry. The state produces about 1 billion gallons of ethanol each year. In Minnesota, 71 retailers have installed at least one blender pump through Minnesota state funding initiatives. Kelly Marczak, Director of Clean Air Choice, a program of the American Lung Association, says they currently have blender pump funding assistance available through a grant provided by the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council. “There are some new pumps being installed,” Marczak says. “The latest one will be at a Holiday station in Moorhead, right along the interstate.” Minnesota has more than 360 E85 retail outlets. In the first eight months of 2011, E85 sales increased by 26 percent, with sales of nearly 3 million gallons more than during the same period of 2010. “There is clearly a sustained demand for cleaner alternatives to petroleum-based fuels,” Marczak adds. “Using alternative fuels reduces lifecycle emissions and air pollution. They also help reduce dependence on petroleum.” In 2010, the USDA set a goal of establishing 10,000 blender pumps throughout the United States by 2017. In September 2011, 33 projects in 22 states were approved for blender pump grants in the latest round of USDA funding. That month, USDA announced a total of $27 million in grants and loan guarantees through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for various energy-related projects. This was the first year blender pumps were eligible to apply for REAP funding. Allowing blender pumps to qualify for REAP funding is one of several strategies USDA has used to make the 10,000-pump goal more attainable. Blender pumps are specifically designed to dispense ethanol-blended gasoline, ranging from unleaded gasoline to up 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (E85). They also dispense mid-level ethanol blends such as E15, E20 and E30. Lilja believes that the economics of ethanol blends will continue to strengthen sales of the blended fuel. “Station owners will always have an advantage when they offer different blends of ethanol fuel,” Lilja says. “Consumers want the opportunity to purchase ethanol blends. They just need access to the product. That’s what the blender pump programs are providing.” Loretta Sorensen, Owner, Prairie Hearth Publishing, LLC.


Empower North Dakota developing cohesive energy program Empower North Dakota has taken a diverse group of energy players and developed a cohesive energy program to develop all of North Dakota’s energy resources. “

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February 2012

owhere else do all of these different parties come together to make recommendations to our legislative leaders,” states Al Anderson, director of the Department of Commerce in Bismarck, N. D. “We have a good track record of getting our recommendations put into law. There are challenges of all the different viewpoints, but we get to the point we can agree to empower North Dakota to develop all energy sources.” Empower North Dakota has been in place since 2007. Two key goals are doubling energy production by 2025 and providing for a fair and responsible regulatory environment that promotes energy development. Since the program started five years ago, wind energy production has increased to more than 1,400 megawatts, which places the state 10th in the nation. In addition, North Dakota produces the eighth most ethanol, is first in blender pumps across the United States, and fourth in oil production. Also, North Dakota is tops in lignite coal reserves. An estimated 70 percent of the energy is shipped out of North Dakota. “Overall, North Dakota has increased its exports dramatically,” Anderson notes. “Since 2000 we have increased all of our exports by over 300 percent. We’re trying to supply the needs of the nation as much as we can with all of our natural resources.”


AMONG THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS THE GROUP HAS MADE: Since 2001, the state has promoted an energy policy that includes a broad range of energy development – conventional and renewable.

* * * * *

The Commission structure brings together energy industry representatives enabling them to share information and discuss issues of concern. In addition to encouraging inter-industry cooperation, this has been helpful to the legislature and the administration. Wind energy development tax incentives, property tax reduction and sales and use tax exemption, helped grow the industry from minimal production to more than 1,400 megawatts. As a result of Commission discussions, energy policy is based upon incentives rather than mandates, resulting in recognition by the industry that state government is responsive to their recommendations.

Creation of the North Dakota Transmission Authority and Pipeline Authority, both of which are significant for development of infrastructure.

Challenges that exist with oil and gas are similar and shared by all the energy producers. Four key areas that the group has identified are: workforce (all have that challenge to find skills,); regulation; infrastructure (in particular, housing, roads in western North Dakota, transmission lines and pipelines to export more of those products); and research and development. Anderson believes the remainder of the nation can learn from what is happening in North Dakota because Empower North Dakota invites everyone to the table. “We’re looking at what’s best for the state, but also what’s best for the nation as a whole,” he says. “The biggest challenge in any kind of investment is the uncertainty,” Anderson states. “The more certainty we can get in Al Anderson, director, having an overall comprehensive policy set, Department of Commerce, Bismarck, ND the better it is for companies to invest their dollars. They know what the playing field is like and the ground rules.” Anderson notes that the state’s role is to create an environment that allows the private sector to create jobs. Alan Van Ormer -

I On February 24, 1971 FY Algeria nationalized French oil companies.


Downtown Grand Forks. Photo courtesy of The Chamber Grand Forks/East Grand Forks.

Community Spotlight

Grand Forks/East Grand Forks

Ralph Engelstad Arena - Photo courtesy of Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Byron L. Dorgan Terminal opened in August at the Grand Forks International Airport. This new $22.5 million terminal offers many new and convenient improvements including easier navigation throughout the facility, more spacious gate areas, a full service bar, digital signs throughout the airport, and a unique gift shop. The terminal also is more energy efficient with a new geothermal heating and cooling system as well as other energy efficient upgrades. Photo courtesy of Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority.

Working together to build two communities The old and the new are working together to help Grand Forks, N. D. and East Grand Forks, Minn., continue to be vibrant in this new economy.

36 Prairie Business

or example, the University of North Dakota and Altru Health System are joining new emerging sectors - such as the university's work with Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and new missions at the Grand Forks Air Force Base - to provide the two communities a diversifying economy that will continue to help that region grow. “We don’t have one dominate area,” notes Klaus Thiessen, President and CEO of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation. “Our approach has been to look at growth from within.” East Grand Forks Mayor Lynn Stauss says collaboration is important because East Grand Forks and Grand Forks are destination places for the region.“It is important that we both work together to bring people to the area and make them feel that they are wanted in both cities,” Stauss explains. “Together, we value their presence because it is important to our economy.”


2011 COULD BE CONSIDERED THE YEAR OF EXPANSION Thiessen believes in sheer number of jobs, was the most significant expansion. Black Gold and AE2S have constructed new headquarters, while Simplot continues to be an anchor in the community with its $100 million expansion project. The Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) has 350 world class researchers and UND continues to work with the community, as well as the Grand Forks Air Force Base to expand its programs, Thiessen notes. One such program is the UAS Operations Degree program. The first students graduated from the program in 2011. In 2012, the first students will be taking a portion of their courses at the UND UAS Training Center on 4,600 square feet of leased space on the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The Training Center will also

February 2012

The Northland Community & Technical College UAS Maintenance program is the first civil maintenance-training curriculum for unmanned aircraft.

be providing contract training for those associated with the Customs and Border Protection. AIR FORCE BASE STEPPING UP ITS MISSION Colonel Timothy E. Bush is the Commander of the 319th Air Base Wing on the Air Force Base. At the end of the KC-135 Tanker mission in late 2010, Grand Forks Air Force Base transitioned from an air refueling wing to an air base wing. His job as wing commander is to ensure Airmen are trained and prepared for the expeditionary fight, to provide superb facilities and services to support tenant units that operate air power from the base, and to ensure the base is ready to meet any new mission requirements deemed necessary by the Air Force. This includes supporting the 69th Reconnaissance Group's Global Hawk operations, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's Predator operations, and the UND Training Center. “We have to be part of the community,” Col. Bush notes, adding that the base provides approximately $265 million to the regional economy. “Something that is remarkable to me is that the only seam is the Red River. Grand Forks and East Grand Forks operate so cohesively as partner cities. There are opportunities along each side of the river to develop.” The communities believe that the Grand Forks Air Force Base is critically important. “I think it is very important to look to the future,” states John Schmisek, Grand Forks County Commissioner and a member of the Base Realignment Impact Committee whose mission is to enhance what is happening at the Air Force Base around the entire region. “These are our friends and neighbors and we don’t want to lose them.” One spin-off from what is happening with the UAS program

Community Spotlight

Grand Forks/East Grand Forks

is the opening of the Unmanned Applications Institute, International. The mission is to develop unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) imagery analyst curriculum. Currently, the company has contracts with several universities in the nation, including Northland Community & Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn., and North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, N. D. The company focuses on training incumbent workers and workforce development associated with the UAS and UAV. “Our focus is more closely associated with development of commercial UAS industry,” states Maynard Herting, Jr., Executive Director of Unmanned Applications Institute, International. “What we’re looking at now is airspace, which is a limiting factor for the whole industry.” EAST GRAND FORKS GROWING While UND has developed a Center of Excellence program, Northland Community & Technical College has received a $4.6 million grant to develop an imagery analysis program and is hoping to work with returning veterans in high technical fields. The college also has developed an aviation maintenance program to assist those working with UAS and UAV, as well as developing five programs on the East Grand Forks campus involving architecture, carpentry, HVAC, plumbing and electrical. “There is so much vibrancy and optimism in this (East Grand Forks) community,” states President Ann Temte. “There is a lot of optimism and cooperation.” Possibly, the most significant item, as the community prepares for its 125th anniversary in August, has been East Grand Forks downtown development over the past five years. The River Walk Center, which was a flood recovery program, is being used to redevelop the community’s downtown. It is becoming an entertainment and restaurant location for, not only those living in East Grand Forks, but also those from across the river. “It has given our community an additional sense of identity,” states Jim Richter, Executive Director of the Economic Development Housing Authority. “Our redevelopment from the river front to our main traffic areas of Highway 2 and 220 has been extraordinary. The skyline has changed.” Total investment for the 10-block corridor is estimated to be around $25$30 million. Richter notes that an additional $10-$15 million in private investment is there also. The 10-block area runs from the Red River to the junction of Highway 2 and 220. It includes Sanford Clinic, the Eagles Club, Sunshine Terrace Apartment Complex, Development Achievement center. In addition, new infrastructure to complete the development of the cities second industrial park will be done in 2012. The 18 acres was developed into 20 lots, of which, six have been sold and three are pending sale. “Knowing some of the businesses that do business on both sides of the river is very important,” Richter says. “Being a small community next to large community we believe we contribute to the regional economy. We like to think that this is a nice clean community and we are doing our part.”

states. “We’re celebrating our success and that means more success.” A new airport terminal was opened in August, there have been additions to Central and Red River high schools, as well as several business expansions, including, Black Gold, and J.R. Simplot. UND has added three buildings: Gorecki Alumni Center, UND helicopter hanger, and Hydrogen building. “One challenge is keeping the momentum moving forward,” Brown says. “Our next step is developing a community foundation. I believe in a legacy of people giving back to the community.” Thiessen feels that the overarching factor of what is driving the community forward is collaboration. This includes the city, county, university, Chamber and EDC, all working together on key projects. This is going to help with the major challenge of finding a workforce to fill positions as the communities move into the future. To assist with that workforce need, for the first time a Career Fair is being developed that is going to show students what opportunities there are in the region. In addition, the EDC and the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals started Launch Grand Forks, an initiative that works to attract and retain talented adults to the Grand Forks region to keep the workforce growing in strength and numbers. Also, the Young Professionals are currently working with the EDC, the Chamber, UND, the city of Grand Forks and numerous local businesses and organizations to implement plans, programs and strategies to attract new talent to the region and keep young talent at home. Stacey Heggen, Executive Director of the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals, notes these are important steps if we want people to know that the communities are not only great places to come to school, but are also great places to get a job, raise a family and build a life. “As I get a glimpse of what the communities have to offer, they are progressive communities. They are one of those hidden gems in the state.” PB Alan Van Ormer -

To read this story in its entirety and view more photos visit

A REGIONAL APPROACH Altru Health System also believes it is doing its part in the region. The integrated health system is located throughout northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. “Altru is very community based in our approach,” states Dave Molmen, CEO of Altru Health System, headquartered in Grand Forks. “Our big focus is looking at health care of the whole region and community and trying to see how we can improve the health status of people we are serving. We’re very proud to be providing medical service, but we recognize the future of health for our community is tied up in how we can get involved in the community, individuals and others to affect health at the grass roots level.” Working with the Grand Forks Park District and Grand Forks YMCA Family Center, Altru is investing $6.5 million in helping create a health and wellness campus on the south end of the city. Altru is enhancing the development by focusing on four components: children and adolescents, world-class sports medicine program, improved access to primary care and prevention and genetic medicine. In the future, Altru will be looking at a community health assessment process involving 30-40 agencies. Altru Health System is doing what Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown expects community leaders to do: dream. “This is a quality we value in our leaders,” he



New mobile devices doing more with little The battery in my smartphone is powerful enough to give me days of calls, web surfing and endless app indulgence.

ut if we run the numbers, it doesn’t have enough juice to light a standard 60W light bulb for five minutes. We’d be lucky to run a “green” high-efficiency compact fluorescent for 20 minutes. That doesn’t really seem like a lot of power, but boy can new mobile devices do a lot with so little. It is easy to blame battery manufacturers for how little energy there is to go around. The processing power of integrated circuits has increased 10X, many times over, the last few years. Conversely, battery technology only gives us small incremental improvements. But before we jump to conclusions, consider the following: gunpowder only has about three times the energy density of the battery for your smartphone, which you casually hold up to your head. A 10X increase in energy would bring the battery in your phone to a higher energy density than TNT. Increase it again by 10X and there is more energy, pound-for-pound, than jet fuel. So how do they do it? Our phones need to run at 100 percent to give us the smooth feel we’re used to when we touch the screen, download apps and interact with games. Doing so continually would burn through the battery in a similar time as our light bulb. How do we get the performance that we want, with the battery life we demand? Consider the Bugatti Veyron – a ridiculous 1,001 horsepower super car. As one of the fastest cars on the planet, when driven pedal to the metal it can reach a staggering 268MPH. It’s a wonder that it stays on the ground. It’s not a


wonder that it costs over $1 million. At its top speed, it’s sucking in 200 gallons of air a second and will completely exhaust its 25 gallon fuel tank in 19 minutes. Like the Veyron, our smart devices have the power to completely exhaust their supply in an extremely short period of time. Unlike the Veyron, our phones work in fits and starts – zipping between extreme high-power states to completely off. It does this hundreds of times per second. Imagine a burst of 268MPH from home to the grocery store – then completely off for a hour– another burst of at 268MPH from the grocery store to grandmas – then completely off – and so on. This is what’s happening inside our phones – giving us the feel of a Ferrari with the battery life of a Fiesta. So what’s next? Your batteries are not going to be leaps and bounds more powerful. They will certainly not store more energy than explosives. Don’t worry about a plateau of features – there will be plenty to fuel your need for more gadgetry. Engineers are working on solving the unique problems of powering fancy, new peripherals while continuing to push the envelope of the power at your fingertips. PB

Brad Thurow is the director of PowerSage Products at Packet Digital LLC, a Fargo, N.D. based semiconductor company specializing in power management. He can be reached at


Remembering the Past... Celebrating the Future August 2012

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February 2012



Open door

Open books

opens up opportunities In the Wall Street Journal Guide to Management, Alan Murray states that, “leadership is less about your needs, and more about the needs of the people and the organization you are leading.”

ne of the best ways I have found to meet the needs of staff is to be open and accessible, both as a leader and with the information we use to manage. This may seem rudimentary, but at a basic human level, we all have a need to be part of something greater than ourselves. We like to have access to information, connect with people, and have the tools we need to excel professionally. When all employees understand the vision of the firm’s leadership, know the people they work with on a personal level, and are kept informed regarding the firms’ performance, they tend to be more engaged and develop a sense of ownership. As a firm, having an open door policy encourages interaction among all levels of leadership and roles. Ideas tend to flow freely, employees feel empowered, and employees enjoy a sense of greater purpose. This, in turn, leads to the development of a culture of entrepreneurialism that can take the


firm to even higher levels of creativity and performance. In addition to having an open door policy that encourages interaction, employees must have a solid understanding of the business and the tools leadership uses to manage the firm. Open books, or being transparent regarding metrics and financial performance allows employees to better understand the challenges leadership faces. Staff can ask questions, challenge the status quo, recognize the part they play in the mission and vision of the company, and clearly see the results of their actions. It gives them the opportunity to strive for improvement when needed and to celebrate successes. If you truly want to encourage openness, you must also be willing to gather feedback and not just push out information. Feedback can be eyeopening at times, but it also keeps you connected with your employees. This openness yields countless opportunities to strengthen your company both internally and externally. Some might think that providing performance information to all staff seems like a risky business practice. From my perspective, I think it is far more risky to have a company filled with people that don’t understand the true workings of your business. It is much better to have employees that have a sense of pride and ownership because they helped shape the organization. In our particular field, recognition is given for the best engineering/architectural firms to work for. Additionally, there is also recognition given for top performing firms. It is no coincidence that some of the top performing firms are also considered some of the best firms to work for. For these firms, an open door leadership style and open book management meet the needs of the employees, opening up a collective world of new opportunities. PB Steve Burian, PE is CEO of AE2S, a civil engineering firm that has 13 offices located in North Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota. Visit to learn more.


It’s all about South Dakota

Accelerator program

ups to South Dakota was a valuable endeavor. When the N2TEC program funding ended, we decided to continue that program’s mission on our own, using the same local resources that made N2TEC possible.” The SDTBC, located in Sioux Falls, S.D., is an on-going effort to diversify and grow the regional economy by assisting in creation and expansion of technology-based business in the area. The center is an outgrowth of the Forward Sioux Falls Technology Program initiated in April 1999. Multiple public and private organizations partnered to fund construction of the SDTBC, reflecting a broad-based support for this economic initiative. Boehm notes that SDTBC hopes to attract start-up companies from South Dakota Entrepreneurs launching a new business will find a wealth of and the surrounding area to participate in the Accelerator program. Companies whose resources and mentorship in the South Dakota Technology Business applications are approved will take part in a 13Center’s Accelerator program. week coaching program that will help them explore their current business activity and potential for growth and development. DTBC client services administrator Pam Boehm says the program is “The first week of the program is an intensive ‘boot camp.’ Before designed to assist entrepreneurs in developing a new business and boot camp begins, we ask participants to complete some homework, advancing business activities for a recently developed company. identifying some important information about their business,” Boehm “The National Network for Technology Entrepreneurship and says. “All the participants come together for discussions that provide an Commercialization (N2TEC) was established to help start-up business,” opportunity for them to learn what other start-up companies are doing. Boehm says. “We hosted the N2TEC Accelerator program in our building The sessions help them think through and rethink their plans and for three years. During that time we realized that the goal to bring startbusiness activity.” The goal of the first week of the program is to assist participants in refining their presentation and communication skills to clearly explain what their business does and how their audience can benefit from it or help the business succeed. “The boot camp week also gives participants opportunity to meet with mentors and business advisors, investors and other resources that will help them launch a successful business in South Dakota,” Boehm says. “At the end of that first week, each business will develop their own set of specific goals and milestones to guide them through the actual start-up phase of the business.” Marketing and financial planning skills are two areas in which most business owners struggle. Boehm notes that the Accelerator program provides assistance in identifying funding options and developing skills to turn marketing activities into sales. “We don’t do the work for them. We do help them find the resources they need to develop a growth plan,” Boehm says. “Because of the work we do, we have knowledge of many resources in the region that businesses need in order to grow and succeed. We gather data every year so we can measure the success of clients. We know that more than 300 jobs have been created by the businesses we’ve served. The average annual income of these business owners is $70,000, which is far above the average income in South Dakota.” Boehm expects that start-up business in the region will complete an application for the Accelerator program. Attracting new small business to the state is on ongoing SDTBC goal. “Small businesses create jobs as they grow and expand,” she says. “In the long run, those small businesses create more high paying jobs in South Dakota. That’s a growth statistic we want to continue to see.” More information about SDTBC and the Accelerator program is available at or by calling 605-275-8000. SDPB Pam Boehm, client service administrator, Loretta Sorensen, Owner, Prairie Hearth Publishing, LLC. South Dakota Technology Business Center

assists entrepreneurs


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February 2012

It’s all about Western North Dakota

MRISAR Institute -

The perfect blend of science and art

"Challenge The Robot Dual Rail Robot Arm Exhibit". One side of the exhibit is autonomous and the other is manually controlled. Museum visitors try to beat the robot in a task. Like our other exhibits and devices the exhibit is made from raw materials one part at a time. (Photo courtesy of MRISAR)

In the rural town of New Leipzig, N. D., lies a new project that is already gaining international attention. he MRISAR Institute, a center that designs prototypes for self-sustaining, humanitarian and environmental projects, relocated to the New Leipzig school in July 2010. “The school project is a prototype for an interactive, educational think tank project created to inspire, educate and to help solve issues that affect humanity,” explains John Siegel, president and co-founder of the institute. “Our main goal is to create something that will help this and future generations.” Funding for the institute project has been generated by the Siegel’s through MRISAR’s robotic, science & art exhibit division where they design and fabricate innovative, interactive exhibits that are featured in world class science centers, museums and universities. The project is composed of interrelated venues, each using a different section of the Institute. One of the venues, “The Center of Science, Art, Technology, and Nature” includes educational and interactive experiences. There are plans for a “Health & Wisdom Emporium” venue that will operate as an online store where guests can buy medicinal herbs, organic products and self-help books. Other venues in the works include an area for a Small Printing Press that will supply the publishing needs of the museum as well as act as a Community Press for the New Leipzig area, a Literary Studio, Film Studio, CG & Graphics Studio, Natural Medicine Research & Development Division and a Horticulture R&D Division. MRISAR is a family business owned and operated by Siegel and his wife, co-founder and vice president Victoria Croasdell-Siegel, along with their two daughters, Autumn and Aurora. They also receive part time assistance from their son, Michael. The focus of the Institute has always been to have it be a family element where they can do things together, and they incorporate philanthropic ideals in every venue they create. Much of their work was inspired by their daughter, Autumn, who had a stroke when she was five years old that left her paralyzed on one side and unable to walk or sit up. Medical professionals told them there was nothing that could be done for her to get the mobility back. Partnering their knowledge of natural healing remedies and prayer, the Siegels worked together to come up with a solution for their daughter, who made a full recovery as a child and is now twenty years old. One of their better known projects, the STRAC prototype, was


42 WND Prairie Business

February 2012

inspired by Autumn’s story. STRAC, which stands for Symbiotic Terrain Robotic Assist Chair, is controlled by facial feature movements, and was designed and built in six weeks back in 1999. Adult Sized STRAC Facial Feature Controlled Through the years the Exoskeleton Robotic Wheelchair Prototype with daughter Autumn Marie Siegel when she MRISAR team has was a child just after her recovery from a paralyzing stroke. The idea was to create worked on both domestic devices for self therapy and for mobility. and foreign projects for (Photo courtesy of MRISAR) clients ranging from branches of governments, NASA, universities, film industries, technology centers and royalty. They have received numerous accolades for their research and development and have gained recognition and publication by such esteemed organizations such as The United Nations, NASAEmhart, Stanford, Cambridge, ICORR, ROMAN, IEEE, Discover Awards and the International Federation of Robotics. In 2011 they were the only company in the world awarded an entire chapter in the publication “World Robotics; Service Robotics Survey, 2011.” As work on the New Leipzig project is completed, additional job opportunities will open up for the people of North Dakota. The community will also benefit from tourism once the project is completed as exhibits at the Institute will bring in area schools, people from the community, and an international interest. In January 2012, MRISAR launched the “Mysterious Universe of MRISAR Fellowship”; a portal for teachers, students and individuals to actively participate in the Institute project advertised in NSTA Reports. “Our hope is to successfully complete the New Leipzig project to its full potential and to create others over a period of time,” says Siegel. Learn more about the MRISAR Institute at WNDPB Mandy Anderson is a Bismarck, ND-based freelance writer. She can be reached at


Profitable community banking in any economy I am frequently asked by peers in the business about Ultima Bank Minnesota’s (UBM) superior financial performance.

ur owner and CEO, Arnie Skeie, likes to say “provide top customer service, take care of our employees - the rest will follow”. While I couldn’t agree more, let me tell you about “the rest”. We have always been a leader in adopting technology, often being first out with the latest technical innovation in community banking. In addition to purchased vendor services, we have developed proprietary software and tools that help us manage our business efficiently and profitably. Our customers are rewarded for adopting electronic banking tools through our product pricing. UBM is sales focused and driven by quality loan growth. All customer contact personnel attend our weekly sales meetings each Monday morning and that sets the tone for the rest of the week. Our internally developed electronic sales tracking tool makes it easy for our staff to record and present their sales activities and provide management a means of monitoring and directing our sales efforts. Net Interest Margin (NIM) is the life blood of any community bank. At UBM, we monitor and focus on achieving a targeted level of margin on loans from the start of the sales process, through loan approval and in managing the overall banking relationship. What most banks call credit meetings, we call “Asset Meetings”. Each week, our loan officers participate in a review of our bank’s overall Earning Assets and NIM, the direction these key indicators are heading and corrective action to be taken, if any. And finally, our incentive compensation (IC) program is tied directly to bank


performance for all staff and, in particular, to NIM for the lending staff. We encourage the use of government guarantee programs to limit risk … after all, our loan officers can lose all or part of their IC if they incur losses. In summary, we strongly believe a solid team with the right information at the right time will produce superior results.

Mark Finstad is president of Ultima Bank Minnesota (UBM), a $125 million community bank with branches in Winger, Fosston and Plummer along with a Loan Production Office in Bemidji, Minn. He is a 30-year banking veteran serving in his current position since 2006 and having previously worked 24 years for Wells Fargo in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. He can be reached at



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Commercial Property/Sale

Agriculture 4DOGARTS.COM 701.590.0346 Graphic & Illustration ServicesPrinting, Design & More Wieman Land & Auction Co. 800-251-3111 Marion, SD

JD 1770NT 24R 30" Planter 2008 model, CCS w/E-set units, pneumatic down pressure, varirate hydraulic drive, liquid fertilizer w/redball system and bar mounted tank, Yetter row cleaners with screw adjustment, drawbar style hitch, shedded in good condition. 218-784-8478

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44 Prairie Business

February 2012

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Call today to reach your target audience 701-780-1150 •

Prairie Business to Business *4- 6") .+7 ,!5 '3((%

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+) :-26+$ %'*'6(7:# 888&"5!,/;!31509&/.4

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John Fetsch: 701.238.9574 or Brad Boyd: 1.800.641.0683 or


By the Numbers EMPLOYMENT

(NOT SEASONALLY ADJUSTED) UNEMPLOYMENT RATE Nov. 2011 North Dakota Fargo MSA Bismarck MSA Grand Forks MSA Minot MiSA Dickinson MiSA Williston MiSA Jamestown MiSA Wahpeton MiSA 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 Duluth-Superior MSA St. Cloud MSA Rochester MSA Mankato-N. Mankato MSA Brainerd MiSA Fairbault-Northfield MiSA Winona MiSA Fergus Falls MiSA Red Wing MiSA Willmar MiSA Austin MiSA Bemidji MiSA Alexandria MiSA Hutchinson MiSA Owatonna MiSA Albert Lea MiSA Marshall MiSA New Ulm MiSA Worthington MiSA Fairmont MiSA

2.9 % 3.1 2.8 4.1 2.7 1.7 0.9 2.9 3.2 3.9 3.8 4.1 3.0 3.1 3.4 4.1 3.0 2.8 3.6 2.9 3.1 5.2 5.1 6.1 5.2 4.2 4.0 7.6 5.4 4.6 5.3 4.3 4.3 4.4 7.0 4.7 6.5 5.0 5.6 4.0 4.6 3.9 5.1

Nov. 2010 3.4% 3.6 3.5 3.8 3.1 2.1 1.4 3.6 3.8 4.5 4.6 4.9 3.3 3.6 3.9 4.2 3.6 3.1 4.4 3.6 3.6 6.6 6.5 6.8 6.0 5.4 5.3 9.7 7.0 5.9 6.4 6.3 5.4 5.3 7.5 5.9 7.9 6.3 7.3 4.8 5.5 4.5 6.3

EMPLOYMENT Nov. 2011 Nov. 2010 363966 115612 59196 52829 32185 17696 24198 10407 13418 431260 125655 64200 23125 18875 18715 12765 13135 12285 11460 9800 7765 2805335 1753844 136171 101654 100904 57280 44229 31120 28132 28879 25124 23477 20455 19790 19432 18225 20691 15905 14189 14222 10788 10968

354439 113620 58242 52754 32028 16020 18219 10831 11769 423155 122025 62610 22630 18660 18120 12865 12625 11960 11085 9440 7605 2780196 1727594 136735 103712 99203 55452 42322 31077 26905 28663 24185 22687 19985 21098 19084 18448 20398 15303 14437 14079 11153 10845

MSA — Metropolitan Statistical Area MiSA — Micropolitan Statistical Area Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Job Service North Dakota, South Dakota Department of Labor

CANADIAN EXCHANGE RATE U.S. to Canadian DollarU.S. to Euro U.S. to Chinese Yuan U.S. to Japanese Yen U.S. to Mexican Peso Source: Bank of Canada

46 Prairie Business

09/23/10 08/23/11 09/23/11 $0.96 or $1.00 $1.02 or $0.97 $1.02 or $0.98 $0.75 or $1.32 $0.76 or $1.31 $0.77 or $1.30 $6.63 or $0,15 $6.38 or $0.16 $6.32 or $0.16 $81.92 or $0.01 $77.88 or $0.01 $77.70 or $0.01 $12.36 or $0.08 $13.93 or $0.07 $13.98 or $0.07 Data provided by Kingsbury Applied Economics

February 2012


OCT. 2011 SEPT. 2011 AUG. 2011 OCT. 2010

Sweet Crude Price/BBL

Production Oil-BBL/day

$81.89 $81.38 $80.71 $68.52

488,100 463,900 446,100 342,250

Drilling Permits 169 176 207 232

OCT. 2011 SEPT. 2011 AUG. 2011 OCT. 2010

Producing Wells 6202 6071 5951 5300

Rig Count 197 197 192 143

Source: NDOMB


% CHANGE/2010-2011

1,193,923 26,842 40,001 18,651 16,745 11,174 10,334 13,694 2,478 1,400

0.0 - 0.5 23.1 - 5.3 12.1 - 3.9 9.9 40.0 10.1 -23.2

Minneapolis-St. Paul Fargo Sioux Falls Rapid City Bismarck Duluth Grand Forks Minot Aberdeen Pierre

Source: US Customs and Border Protection




NOV 2011

NOV % CHANGE 2011 /NOV 2010

Grand Portage Baudette Warroad Roseau

36712 12450 9267 3070

4.00% -14.61 18.34 19.27

1732 499 1032 928

- 3.35% -12.91 20.42 - 41.64

25000 7804 4514 4293 3770 2699

- 12.46 - 0.95 12.93 - 2.72 19.27 4.37

17328 7822 617 2358 928 941

1.85 25.59 - 29.16 17.02 - 41.64 83.43


Pembina Portal Neche Dunseith Walhalla Noonan

Source: US Customs and Border Protection


Prairie Business February 2012  

Northern Plains Business Resource