Supporting the Success of 400+ Primary-Sector Companies

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Supporting the Success of 400+ Primary-Sector Companies

Supporting Primary-Sector Success

Throughout 2023, our staff met or surveyed more than 150 primary-sector company leaders in Cass and Clay Counties. We learned about their successes and challenges and listened for opportunities to support their growth and success. Information in hand, we connected companies to people and programs and advocated for change that supported business growth therefore strengthening the region’s economic vitality.

This work falls within the GFMEDC’s Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) Program. Using BRE surveys, our organization collects vital information from businesses including expansion opportunities, information on challenges or barriers to growth, and evaluation of and input on community resources and amenities.

Supporting The Success 1
GFMEDC Business Development Breakfast focused on our Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) Program results

Primary-sector businesses participate either through an in-person visit or by completing a quick online survey. Through the responses, we prioritize direct support for the business in the short-term, while collecting long-term aggregate data that provides useful insight into the region’s economic trends tracking that against other markets and national trends.

Beyond collecting data, our technology triggers alerts based on certain survey concerns, and staff quickly responds. The data also identifies trends in regional primary-sector challenges, informing public policy, programs and highlighting the needs of the business community.


Sixty-nine percent of respondents (122 responses to this question 2023) indicated they plan to expand in one to two years, with most projects happening in the manufacturing, software and hardware industries. Collectively, survey respondents plan to spend $188 million in capital investments, create 1,100 new jobs, and utilize almost 879K square feet of space.

These potential expansions are being planned but aren’t guaranteed and will require the collective work of local private and public partners to increase the probability they will take place in our region. Not surprising, the number one issue our companies face in their growth is meeting their workforce needs, and as you will see in other sections of this annual report, the EDC is working hard to ensure our companies can recruit and retain a skilled workforce.

2023 Survey ResultsHere are some of the survey results:

  • 61% of companies surveyed noted there are barriers to growth in the community, with 8 out of the top 10 reasons being related to labor concerns.
  • Of the 122 companies surveyed, 66% indicated they are experiencing recruitment challenges with more than 1,200 open jobs across these companies.
  • The breakdown of industries that are most likely to expand:
    • Manufacturing                                             40%
    • Software & Hardware                                 24%
    • Professional & Technical Services            10%
    • All Other Industries                                     16%


To encourage a higher rate of return on our surveys, we donate $25 to the charity they choose. In fact, from the program’s inception in 2021, our organization has donated more than $6,975 to local nonprofits, with a record of $3,050 raised in 2023.

Survey participants can choose one of six local non-profits that include: United Way, Homeward Animal Shelter, Ronald McDonald House, Roger Maris Cancer Center, Great Plains Food Bank and the F5 Project.


Our BRE Program is sponsored by Xcel Energy.

xcel energy logo



Prepping Properties

Doing the pre-work to get properties ready for a shovel

Document Ready

We call them Document-Ready sites (sometimes called shovel ready). It refers to an available piece of land that has been vetted to some degree – a company can break ground sooner and get to the real work of what they do. In a competitive market, it’s no longer an advantage but a necessity.

“Having marketable business and industrial sites has always been important to a company’s site selection process, and to economic development in general. It has become more critical than ever both because so many communities around the country have rapidly upped their game in preparing and marketing ready-to-go sites to companies considering expansion. Also, since the pandemic, companies’ have had to double down on their speed-to-market which in turn has made the availability of document-ready sites an integral part of their location decision process – therefore, now essentially table-stakes for economic development efforts,” said Phil Schneider, Schneider Strategy Consulting, LLC.

If time is money, offering land options that increase speed to market is a smart investment. Document-ready sites offer land that is closer to shovel ready because there has already been work to ensure the land is safe to develop on. For example, some of the pre-work like locating utilities and technical reporting have been done. There are levels to signify how much pre-work has been done.

For example, to be deemed document ready, a site has completed a litany of technical work such as soil surveys, environmental assessments, wetlands mapping or endangered species assessment. The more technical reports completed, the higher the document-ready certification – bronze, silver, gold or the highest, platinum.

The GFMEDC continues to coordinate with many partners to add additional sites to our Document-Ready Site Program.

At the end of 2023, the region offered four sites in its portfolio with several sites in progress.

McCara Site

Platinum Level (highest level available)
197 Acres
Located south of I-94 on Highway 52 in Moorhead

The Crossroads

Gold Level
50.39 Acres
Located at the crossroads of I-29 and I-94 in Fargo

Veteran’s Industrial Park

Gold Level
50 Acres
Located at 19th Avenue and 57th Street North in Fargo

Dakota Commerce Center – North

Gold Level
111.7 Acres
Located at 37th Street and 52nd Avenue North in Fargo

The GFMEDC worked with global site location consultant, Phil Schneider, to develop this program. Schneider has reviewed and certified each site based on the appropriate level of data provided.


To provide companies a comprehensive overview of local, regional and state resources and programs, the GFMEDC offers our SmartBook, sponsored by Bremer Bank.

In 2023 we released an updated version incorporating the newest legislative and program changes in both North Dakota and Minnesota.

There are several new programs in ND and MN including:

Biologic Inputs Sales Tax Exemption in ND
Angel Match Program in ND
Automation Loan Participation Program (ALPP) in MN
Growth Loan Fund in MN

“Our local and state leaders are constantly thinking about ways to elevate our business climate and offer programs and incentives that support growing primary-sector businesses. Our job at the GFMEDC is to understand all of these programs and incentives and connect eligible companies to these resources and guide them through the process. The Smartbook is a valuable tool for any service provider in the Greater Fargo Moorhead region who interfaces with primary-sector businesses on a regular basis,” said Ryan Aasheim, Chief Business Development Officer, GFMEDC.

Smartbook 2023 

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