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In Good Company: Agricultural Innovation And Construction in Downtown Fargo

With the opening of their new Downtown Innovation Studio, Doosan Bobcat is making a bold statement: that the future of agriculture and construction is happening in Downtown Fargo.

There is plenty to see in Downtown Fargo: eateries offering everything from pizza to pho, a different colorful mural to admire around every corner, the legendary Fargo Theatre marquee shining above it all. But perhaps what’s most exciting about Downtown is what you don’t see. Behind the walls of some of our city’s most iconic buildings, an agricultural revolution is brewing. 

Within a span of seven city blocks you will find Emerging Prairie, the organization spearheading the Grand Farm initiative; Bushel (formerly Myriad Mobile), an ag software company developing world-class applications for grain retailers and growers; R.D. Offutt Company, a family-owned and operated company, based in Fargo, N.D., comprised of business entities in the agriculture/construction equipment, farming, real estate/development, and food production industries; and now Doosan Bobcat, a global market leader in compact construction equipment. 

In October 2019, Bobcat opened the doors to its new Downtown Innovation Studio in the historic Black Building, located at 118 Broadway. Bobcat is not a new name here in Fargo. The company was founded more than 60 years ago, right down the road in Gwinner, North Dakota, and has grown into a $4 billion-a-year global business. 

But as one of the most recent businesses to make the move to Downtown, Bobcat is making a bold statement: that the future of agriculture is happening in Downtown Fargo.

“We’re the people out looking at the new, far-reaching technologies,” said Joel Honeyman, VP of Global Innovation at Doosan Bobcat. “I think people would be shocked to know that a lot of all of that development globally is done right here in Fargo, North Dakota, at our Downtown Studio.”

Deciding on Downtown Fargo

The goal of The Studio is to accelerate the development of new technologies by encouraging hands-on collaboration in a high-tech environment. While scouting out potential locations for The Studio, Honeyman traveled across the country, benchmarking similar facilities from Seattle to Silicon Valley. What stood out to him most in these larger cities was the networking taking place between industry leaders. 

 Black Building

“What we want to do is really create a collaborative environment to enable teams to work together along with outside partners, outside third parties to really develop these new solutions faster for the marketplace,” Honeyman said. 

It became clear that in order to stay on the front end of new technologies, Bobcat needed to be where the action was. They needed to be downtown.

“Downtown Fargo has really changed, the renaissance of businesses that are moving into downtown I think has led to a lot of companies like ourselves taking a look at downtown Fargo and saying ‘Hey. It’s a great fit,’” Honeyman said. “We chose downtown because we really wanted to create a connection to a lot of the different companies and culture that’s part of downtown in order for us to attract talent, but also to attract partners and people that we want to work within our technologies.”

Working In Good Company

With its wide-open floor plan, abundance of natural light, and close proximity to other ag-tech companies, the Black Building stood out as the perfect location for the collaborative high-tech workspace Honeyman envisioned. In the few short months since Bobcat opened the doors to the Downtown Innovation Studio, the company has already found several opportunities to be In Good Company. 

“We have Bushel, one of our partners, a block and a half away,” Honeyman said. “So one of the things we’re doing here at this facility is, those employees and our employees can go back and forth with our partners.”

Bobcat’s headquarters are along I94 in West Fargo. Previously, if Honeyman and his team were collaborating with outside groups like Bushel on a project, they could only interact face-to-face in weekly meetings or video conferences. Now that they are just a few blocks away, their teams can meet daily.

Bobcat

“I don’t think we would’ve been able to do that at a different facility, to be able to have an environment like this and to share our culture and our vision for what we want to do,” Honeyman said. “Just inherently, being together daily, we are going to get more stuff done than having a weekly conference call,”

In February, Bobcat hosted a roundtable discussion at the Downtown Innovation Studio that was attended by Scheels, Sanford Health, Marvin Windows, North Dakota State University, and Bushel. That event was just one of many to come. In partnership with Emerging Prairie, Bobcat will be hosting a series of peer group sessions with key area business leaders.

“If Fargo-Moorhead is going to put itself on the map, if we as a community are going to be able to grow this region and grow agriculture and grow technology, then we need to collaborate and work together,” Honeyman said. “There’s no reason for me to get on an airplane once a month to go fly to Silicon Valley when I can collaborate with other companies right here in Fargo-Moorhead, and be able to do that right here at the Black Building.”

Industry leaders like Bobcat are choosing downtown Fargo to enhance their company culture and to attract and retain the region’s best talent. Put yourself in good company; visit officedowntownfargo.com to view the Kilbourne Group’s available commercial spaces.

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Written by Katie Beedy

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