Photography by Hillary Ehlen and courtesy of the FMWF Chamber of Commerce
Last month, the Chamber once again hosted our annual State of the Cities event, which brings together our metro mayors for a discussion on our community’s past, present and future. We had a sellout crowd of 650 in attendance and lively debate hosted by KFGO’s Joel Heitkamp and Xcel Energy’s Mark Nisbet.
It’s always a pleasure to host this forum because it gives our members and the community the opportunity to hear directly from their elected officials and voice their own opinions through live polling and Q&A.
One of the most interesting parts of the event, in my opinion, are the live polls (See Figures 1.A and 1.B)
We’ve conducted live polls at this event for the past five years, so we are now seeing trends in responses. We’ve asked that first question (Figure 1.A) every year. Interestingly, in 2014, the majority (nearly 60 percent) said that flood protection was the most important issue, followed by workforce at nearly 20 percent. By the next year, it flip-flopped and the gap closed, and we saw 40 percent say workforce was the top priority, followed by flood protection. Those results held for 2016, too.
By 2017, we once again saw a slight shift, and nearly 40 percent voted flood protection first, with more than 30 percent weighing in on workforce.
Considering this year’s results, it’s hard to pinpoint why our members value workforce higher again. It could be because talks about the Diversion have quieted, but woes about our workforce feel front and center. Regardless of how exactly the votes fall, I am pleased to see the top two issues consistently fall in line with our own public policy priorities.
Looking at the results of question two (Figure 1.B), I can’t help but note the overwhelming support of our current tax policies that are in effect to attract new businesses to our community. In the case of Downtown Fargo, clearly, the incentives have contributed a great deal. I think it’s safe to say that these are great tools for businesses to use for growth and success.
Of course, we were also thrilled to hear updates from each metro mayor regarding the successes, priorities and challenges in their cities. For a full recap, please visit the Chamber’s blog (FMWFChamber.com/Blog) for our full notes and links to more photos and video from the event.
In January, the FMWF Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the Cities, which brings together the mayors from the Fargo metro for a discussion on our community’s past, present and future.
Craig Whitney is the president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.
FMWF Chamber of Commerce
202 1st Ave. N, Moorhead, MN