Fargo Moorhead has proven that economic diversity, fiscal conservatism and an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurialism are paramount to weathering a slowing economy. Our city leaders tongue-in-cheek that Fargo Moorhead decided not to participate in the recession, all the while knowing that, while we’ve been one of the strongest places in the country, we’ve not gone untouched.
On January 14, hundreds of Fargo Moorhead Chamber members gathered for the 2010 Regional Economic Outlook Forum for a pulse reading from the banking, technology and health care reform fronts.
Read The Forum's coverage of the event.
Sheldon Petersen, CEO of National Rural Utility Cooperative Finance Corporation, opened the program with a timeline of events leading to the 2009 recession.
Rick Clayburgh, president and CEO of the North Dakota Bankers Association, said that while the banking industry has been blamed for much of the fall-out, community banks in North Dakota did not practice sub-prime lending. In addition, they have increased their lending 5.3 percent from September 30, 2009 to September 30, 2009.
Clayburgh said a survey of North Dakota community banks revealed that our bankers are less concerned about credit availability than they are about maintaining the flow of quality borrowers as regulations are tightened. He talked about the use of SBA guaranteed loan programs designed to assist small businesses. (While SBA itself does not make loans, it does guarantee loans made to small businesses by private and other institutions. Learn more at www.sba.gov.)
Ross Manson, a health care consultant with Eide Bailly LLP, led the audience in an examination of the Senate and House versions of impending health care reform legislation. He laid the groundwork by outlining that there are approximately 54 million uninsured people in the U.S.
* In North Dakota, it’s approximately 67,800; or 11% of population.
* In Minnesota, it’s approximately 438,500; or 8.5% of population.
“Insurance is in the crosshairs of both bills,” said Manson, who expects a final bill to be on the President’s desk by the end of February.
View Manson’s Presentation
Delore Zimmerman, president and CEO of Praxis Strategy Group, praised the Fargo Moorhead economy for its traditional strengths in the food, energy and manufacturing industries, and spotlighted the region’s drive toward science, technology and innovation. One key that keeps FM at the forefront is the fact that Bachelor level education is higher here than nationally, which Zimmerman called a “good human capital equation for the future.”
In the Fargo Moorhead economy, with very few exceptions, industries across the board are growing,” Zimmerman said, adding that in 40 years, demand will double for food production. “Our strategy is right and the world is our market.”
View Zimmerman’s Presentation
In a September 2009 survey of FM Chamber members, increasing government involvement and control topped their list of business concerns.
Following are comparative results from January 2009 and January 2010 FM Chamber member survey responses.