Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) Survey & Community AssessmentPrimary-sector companies are the main drivers of economic growth worldwide, and the Greater Fargo Moorhead region is no different. Primary-sector companies sell the majority of their goods and services outside of the local trade area, and those sales bring new wealth into our metro. The GFMEDC has developed an industry leading BRE program that allows us to collect strategic data from our company leaders and then to prioritize our service to them based on need. This process also allows us to aggregate data to support public policy needs. Primary sector companies in our region typically fall into the following categories that you will see throughout the data below: Manufacturing, Autonomous Systems, Professional/Technical Services, AgTech, Biosciences, Software and Hardware, Value-Added Ag, and Logistics.
Total Projected Jobs Added
Estimated Facilities Expansion (sq. ft.)
Total Estimated Investment
Sample Size of Data
There are more than 500 primary-sector companies in Greater Fargo Moorhead throughout a diverse set of industry sectors. We gather strategic data from these companies on an ongoing basis, in addition to at least once annually where we do a “blitz of interviews.” The data represented in this report is representative of company surveys collected in 2021.
Not surprising, respondents have indicated a need for additional workforce in the near future. Ensuring that these companies have the workforce they need to maintain, or grow is a primary concern of the GFMEDC. Through the BRE survey process, we ask if employment is increasing or decreasing and work with partners to assist their workforce needs.
The need for physical business space is dramatically shifting post-Covid. Understanding primary-sector needs for space informs us about the market’s commercial real estate trends. Note: Amazon was announced in 2020, and the square footage reflecting that space is not present in this data. Similarly, Aldevron was announced in 2019 and the square footage reflected in that expansion is not present in this data.
Projected Investment Requirements
There are many programs to assistant and support business as they make capital investments, create jobs and build or utilize commercial space in our region. The GFMEDC connects eligible primary-sector companies to the resources they need to continue their growth. Company investments support regional growth through direct investments in equipment/technology, real estate and working capital, and these investments ripple through the economy and support indirect and induced jobs and investment by the more than 13,000 companies in the region that survive off local economic activity.
Community InputAnswers to this question better inform us of the barriers to growth that companies face in the Greater FM. The top challenge? Workforce. In fact, of respondents, more than 90% of them indicated that unfulfilled workforce needs would be the primary reason not to expand in our region.
Community Service Satisfaction Averages
A region with robust community services has a great start on the building blocks needed to grow and maintain local primary-sector companies. Additionally, reliable, uninterrupted utilities are a staple of any business community. Without them, the lights wouldn’t stay on, literally. On a scale from 1-7 with 1 being the least satisfied and 7 being the most satisfied, we asked primary sector business leaders to rank the following community services. Below is an average of those rankings. Compared to historical survey responses by hundreds of thousands of companies nationally, the satisfaction scores noted here are considered very high, and will definitely be marketed to those firms we are trying to attract into the region. Please know that we work with each community and organization providing these services to “dig” deeper into the data so that any concerns by companies can be addressed.
A Few Samples of Our Results
Through our BRE program outreach to nearly 100 companies, we have been able to assist local primary-sector companies in the following ways:
- Tracked 35 issues
through the EDC’s ticketing system, successfully resolving 19 of them. A
ticket for Elinor Specialty Coatings, an advanced materials and coatings
technology company, connecting them to the LIFT program resulted in a
$750,000 award to support product development and sales, including applied
research and experimentation, operational testing, and working capital to
- After a BRE visit, staff created a
ticket which resulted in connecting Bytespeed to partners who
specialize in defense contracting and ag tech ecosystems supporting
potential growth. These introductions have
proven to be fruitful and these connections have grown into relationships
that continue to progress and evolve.
- An online
BRE survey submitted by a fuel cell and IOT technology company
revealed “access to capital” as a barrier to growth in the community. GFMEDC
staff created a ticket to track efforts deployed to support this issue. EDC
staff was quickly able to refer the company to a number of private
These connections have led to opportunities to pitch to several
The BRE visits and online surveys also directly support primary-sector workforce needs:
- As a result of these BRE surveys, we’re hearing about
workforce development issues at the ground level. About 55% of companies
are experiencing recruitment issues. Our team has reached out to 19
companies, assisting with our workforce tools (Emsi, liveinFargo.com,
community tour, FM Welcome Party) and made connections to F5 and the
in-person BRE visit to Space Age Synthetics by the GFMEDC’s CBDO to
a composite materials manufacturer revealed workforce shortage issues
accessing entry level talent. The
GFMEDC prepared a workforce ticket which triggers a notice to the Sr. VP
of Workforce Development. The EDC connected with a local non-profit specializing
in employment of formerly incarcerated individuals. The EDC
organized a visit by the non-profit to the manufacturer and subsequently
two new employees were hired.
Our BRE outreach is also providing us with information on future projects:
- Of the 66 regional companies with expansion plans, we
have reached out and started work on 11 projects. Six of these projects
have already been successful, adding $11.9M in capital investment, 70 new
jobs and 142,000 of square feet utilized. One of these successful
expansions belongs to Standard Industries who is building a new 120,000
square foot manufacturing facility in the Fargo industrial park. The
expansion includes $8.4M in investment and about 30 additional jobs all
paying above market wages ($20-$35/hr).
- A pipeline of the five remaining projects, if
successful, would add 3.2M of capital investment and 58 new jobs.
- Of the 66 regional companies with expansion plans, we have reached out and started work on 11 projects. Six of these projects have already been successful, adding $11.9M in capital investment, 70 new jobs and 142,000 of square feet utilized. One of these successful expansions belongs to Standard Industries who is building a new 120,000 square foot manufacturing facility in the Fargo industrial park. The expansion includes $8.4M in investment and about 30 additional jobs all paying above market wages ($20-$35/hr).
- A pipeline of the five remaining projects, if successful, would add 3.2M of capital investment and 58 new jobs.
ConclusionAs your regional EDC, we will continue to maintain outreach to existing primary sector companies and work to address the opportunities and challenges that promote a strong and growing primary sector. If you are a primary sector company and interested in participating in a Business Retention and Expansion Survey, please email Ryan Aasheim at firstname.lastname@example.org. All responses are confidential and are only reported in aggregate.
Data provided by Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation BRE Survey, 2021.