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Fargo Seeks More Workers for Booming Job Market

Community has thousands of job openings in top fields

By Kevin Litwin on August 19, 2015

A worker at the Caterpillar Reman plant in Fargo secures a chain to a large metal component shaped like a rocket blaster.
Fargo / Jeff Adkins

Fargo is the fourth-fastest-growing small city in the United States and the No. 1 small city in America to start a business or a career, according to Forbes.

The robust local economy of Fargo continues to grow in sectors such as food processing, retail trade and higher education as well as technology and health care. Even the manufacturing sector grew more than 12 percent over the past decade compared to a 15 percent decrease throughout the U.S. during the same time period.

All this prosperity is good news for the local economy, but growth raises the need to attract more employees. A recent Fargo Regional Workforce Study headed by five organizations, including the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, found that Fargo-Moorhead had about 6,700 job openings in 2015, and that number will grow to as many as 30,000 openings over the next five years.

As a result, the GFMEDC is leading an initiative to recruit, retain and develop talent to support business growth in the region. One of the programs is called Community 101 for College Students, which informs and suggests to collegians that they start pursuing more relevant majors that will result in well-paying careers with existing employers.

Meanwhile, other efforts are gaining the community national attention and attracting new workers to the region, including programs such as 1 Million Cups Fargo, TedxFargo, a Social Innovation Challenge and a Technology Hackathon. Fargo even hosted a Drone Focus Conference in 2015.

In With the Knew

Getting students to think more about tech-based careers is the aim of the Information Technology Council of North Dakota (ITCND). Two of the initiatives are Career Awareness and Career Tech Education programs that are informing K-12 students in Fargo about the great opportunities in technology.

“Several organizations support a Health, Tech & Trades Career Expo for ninth graders, and career-based programs have been introduced in schools specifically targeing third- to sixth-grade students,” says Gary Inman, ITCND President.

Inman says tech-based success stories in Fargo can be boundless, and he points to growing companies like Microsoft Fargo, Myriad Mobile (a mobile app development company with owners in their 20s), Appareo Systems (aviation-based electronics) and Intelligent InSites (health-care automation for hospitals).

“For example, there is a shortage of database developers in Fargo-Moorhead, and those employees often make upwards of $70,000 to $100,000,” he says. “In fact, good developers right out of college can earn around $60,000 to start.”

Good Medicine

Another key sector for recruitment efforts is health care, especially since Sanford Medical Center Fargo's new hospital will require 300 new positions when it opens in 2017. A recent hire at the current Sanford Medical Center Fargo is Brittni Bartnes, a registered nurse assistant who was raised in Colorado, attended college in Tennessee, and chose Fargo for employment.

“I visited Fargo and appreciated that the community isn't too big but is big enough, with good restaurants, shopping and things to do,” Bartnes says. “And I chose Sanford because they have a major emphasis on advanced healing and holistic care. There are plenty of opportunities for me to move forward in my career, and I'm also excited about the new hospital in 2017.”

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