Research, Technology and Manufacturing in Fargo, ND

By Pamela Coyle on June 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm EST
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Fargo can get pretty cold, but as business climate goes, this city is sizzling.

Accolades are many and include being ranked No. 4 among small metros for best places for business and career from Forbes; top of a list of 15 great cities for job seekers by MSN.com and one of America’s top business opportunity metros from Expansion Management magazine.

The Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation reports business operating costs are 23 percent below the national average, and emerging industries are helping reshape the region’s economy.

The area has the country’s only Corrosion and Coating Research Center as well as the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, both located at North Dakota State University. Fargo has large and small software companies, a booming number of firms with roots in physical sciences, plus a solid line-up of manufacturers, distributors and back-office centers.

The NDSU Research & Technology Park is part of the mix. It’s a 55-acre park that brings university research and private industry together. Phoenix International Corp., an electronics manufacturer, is a cornerstone tenant and wanted a steady supply of engineering graduates, which NDSU readily supplies. A Center for High Performance Computing is in the works.

Major employers include Microsoft; U.S. Bank Service Center; Noridian Mutual Insurance Company’s claims center; Case New Holland Corp, which makes agricultural equipment; and Integrity Windows by Marvin. Each has more than 500 full-time employees.

The ranks of specialized technology companies are growing, too. Along with Phoenix, the roster includes Allen Technology, Pedigree Technologies, Appareo Systems, Fargo Automation, Packet Digital, IDA Corporation, Tecton Products and Dakota Technologies.

The labor market is quite stable. Unemployment in April 2008 was 3.1 percent, the same as it was 12 months earlier. Bachelor’s degrees are in the hands of almost one-fourth of the adult workforce; 10 percent have graduate degrees.

In 2007, entry-level salaries for electrical and mechanical engineers were $57,000 and $52,000, respectively. Newly minted physicists clock in at $76,200.

Once here, firms stick around. In 2007, Microsoft announced an expansion of 120,000 square feet, Echelon Corporation moved into a new facility, work began on a new plant that will package beef and bison, and Take Care Health Systems, a subsidiary of Walgreens, prepared to open a new facility.

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This is a really neat community, and there's a lot to do here.

Mike Hahn, president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Downtown Community Partnership