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Meet The FMWF Chamber Board

It’s no secret that the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce makes a huge impact in our local region with many of the area’s top business leaders, paving the way for the direction of the organization. Let’s take a look at some of the outstanding leaders that currently serve on the FMWF Chamber Board of Directors.


In 2018-2019 The FMWF Chamber Of Commerce

  • Held 102 events in 365 days
  • Secured 80% of $5 million for Fueling Our Future
  • Hosted their biggest event to date, Women Connect with Rachel Hollis where they collected 2,500 donations to local non-profits
  • Started programming and efforts through their new committees—Education and Professionals of Color
  • Hosted a press conference on the importance of the Diversion

New In 2019

  • Young Professionals Week
  • A relaunched website
  • Professionals of Color
  • Fueling Our Future
  • Education committee
  • Job postings board

Shawn Dobberstein, Treasurer

Shawn Dobberstein

Shawn Dobberstein is originally from the Herman, MN – Wheaton, MN area where the family operated a grain farm with cattle and hogs and he graduated from Wheaton High School. Dobberstein then went on to attend North Dakota State from 1982-1986 where he participated in Cross Country/Track and Field and graduated in 1986 with a degree in Animal Science Business and a minor in Agricultural Economics. Professionally, Dobberstein began his career as a Program Intern for the USDA-ASCS now known as the Farm Service Agency. In 1985, Dobberstein began working for the City of Fargo Public Works Department as a Public Works Analyst. He then left the City of Fargo in April 1991 to work for the Municipal Airport Authority as the Assistant to the Executive Director. Six years later, in 1997, Dobberstein was named Executive Director of the Municipal Airport Authority.Credentials

Credentials

  • 2006-2007 Past Chair of the Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead.
  • Past President of NDSU Team Makers.
  • Past member of NDSU Wellness Center Advisory Board.
  • Past Member NDSU NCAA Certification Committee.
  • Past Member of Xcel Energy Advisory Board.
  • Past Member of Olivet Lutheran Church Foundation.
  • Current member of Governor’s Military in North Dakota Advisory Group.
  • Current Member of National Association of Foreign Trade Zones.
  • Current Member of Betta Gama.
  • Current Member of Chamber Military Affairs Committee.
  • Current Member of FMWF Air National Guard Support Group.
  • Current Trustee member of the NDSU Foundation Board.
  • Current Member of the Airport Association of North Dakota.
  • 2017 Honorary Chair of the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.
  • Current President of the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives.
  • Current Honorary Commander of the North Dakota Air National Guard.
  • Current Member of the NDSU College of Business Advisory Board.
  • Charter Member of the Fargo Air Museum.
  • Current Member of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Policy Review Committee.
  • Current Member of Cass County Career and Technical Education Aviation Advisory Board.
  • Co-Chair Bison Bidders Bowl 30/31.

Hobbies: Attending NDSU athletic events, hunting, fishing, New York Jets football and Philadelphia Phillies baseball.

Family: Wife Darla is employed by Sanford. Daughter Kayla and husband Matt; son Mike and wife Katy. Four grandchildren: Hannah, Hailee, Mason and Wes.

The Municipal Airport Authority:
Employees:
 26 full-time and 5 part-time
Website:fargoairport.com
Awards: 2003 Outstanding MBA Alumnus; 2005 FM CVB Community Service Award; 2006 Greater FM EDC Community Service Award; 2008 ND Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Award; 2019 Airport Professional of the year for the Great Lakes Chapter of AAAE
Certifications: Accredited Airport Executive (AAE); Certified USA Track and Field Official

Favorite Chamber events:

  • Voices of Vision
  • Eggs and Issues
  • Chamber Choice Awards

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
The Chamber staff is committed to advocating for businesses of all sizes. The Chamber is known as a credible voice with a stellar reputation at the local, state and federal government levels.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
Please review the portfolio of programs offered by the Chamber. Contact Chamber members and ask them how their membership investment benefits their business.

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
The staff’s ability to sustain a constant level of enthusiasm to meet the needs of the membership and prospects. The Chamber staff is engaged each day.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
The entire Chamber staff deserves a standing ovation. Their ongoing dedication to service is commendable during this time of transition to a new CEO and the current COVID19 pandemic.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
The Fargo Airport Authority benefits in a number of ways. The Chamber’s advocacy on behalf of the members at the local, state and federal level is a significant benefit when an issue needs to be addressed. The networking opportunities are excellent. The training programs provide an opportunity for our employees to advance their knowledge and skills.


Chad Flanagan, Board Member

Chad Flanagan

Chad specializes in valuing intangible assets, including technology, patents and contractual agreements. Flagan also specializes in countless business valuation services for estate and gift tax purposes, litigation, as well as purchasing and selling businesses.

When working with Chad, clients can expect an advisor that will help them through various stages of their business. Not only does he play an integral part in the early stages to understand value and proper capitalization, he stands by businesses as they mature, increasing value and developing strategies for growth and risk management.

Eide Bailly
Employees: 2500
Year Founded: 1917
Website: www.eidebailly.com
Awards: ChamberChoice Business of the Year and Workplace of Choice

Hidden FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known: The Chamber allows for relationship building, networking, the impact of advocacy and the pro-business advocacy, support for entrepreneurship and start-ups

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber?

  • ChamberChoice-highlight great businesses in the area
  • Economic Outlook Forum
  • Voices of Vision

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
I think the greatest benefit of The Chamber is how it brings businesses together, creates opportunities to share, and brings strong advocacy for pro-business initiatives.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
Join, check it out, you’ll be surprised how much the Chamber can offer.

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
I didn’t realize how much advocacy happened through The Chamber or the in-depth knowledge the Chamber staff has on business issues and how to get things done.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
The staff is truly impressive. These are really talented people working hard for our best interests.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
We send a lot of people to events to learn and network. We also benefit from opportunities to connect with business leaders to hear what’s driving their businesses’ growth and risk factors.


Sandi Piatz, Chair Elect

Sandi Piatz

Sandi Piatz is a Sr. Director at Microsoft. She serves as the Site Leader for Microsoft’s Fargo Campus and also Community Program Manager Leader for Real Estate and Facilities across the Americas. Sandi has been in the technology industry for almost 20 years working in startup software companies, to national technology consulting firms to Microsoft. Sandi has a Master’s in Business (MBA) and a Masters in Leadership. Her and her husband have two children, Alexis (23) and Peyton (18).

Microsoft:
The roots of the Microsoft in Fargo site started with Great Plains Software. This year was the 19th anniversary since the acquisition and the 20th anniversary since the first building was built in Fargo at the campus we are at today.

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known.
1. The number of committees making an impact
2. The lobbying efforts benefiting local businesses
3. Employee development or training resources offered

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber?

  • Women Connect
  • Professionals of Color Networking
  • FMWF Leadership Development program

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?The Chamber curates speakers and content to educate and support key initiatives across our region for businesses. In addition, it creates avenues for connecting and networking across all business sectors and all sizes of businesses.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
The advice that I would have is to look at your organization holistically when you consider becoming a Chamber member. Many times business leaders only look at it from a marketing and sales perspective. An organization should look across their organization to see what the core priorities are as a business and for its people, and how can the chamber support them. They will see from marketing and sales to employee development, recruitment, policy lobbying, developing our youth (future talent), etc. the Chamber can really support a whole organization across many facets. Also, align team members by role to be involved throughout the whole organization from HR to sales to operations to senior leadership. 

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
How far we have come over the past 10 years. The Chamber has always been strong in the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Community. In the past 10 years, it has created new programs and launched new initiatives in the past 10 years to truly impact businesses and the region.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
The Chamber team. They work extremely hard to connect and serve our community.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
Policy support, networking, training and development, education on issues or trends in the region, and most recently new support for our changing diverse region with Women’s Connect and POC.


Steve Halverson, Director

Steve Halverson

Steve Halverson was born in Fargo and attended Fargo Central High before eventually graduating from North Dakota State with a Master’s in business. Halverson would then go on to start Heartland Trust Company in 1990.

Heartland Trust Company
Employees: 22
Year Founded: 1990
Website: heartlandtrust.com
Awards: 2013 Chamber Small Business of the Year

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known.
1. Leadership training for future business leaders
2. Legal and business updates (both local and national)
3. Strong advocation for a positive business climate

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber? 

  • Economic Outlook
  • State of Cities
  • State of Technology

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
It brings knowledge, experience, and energy to local and national issues that are too big for most businesses to research and process.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?

  •  The cost is modest
  • It’s great for recognition and marketing,
  • One ribbon cutting and you break even
  • Low cost nurturing for your young leaders

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
How small the staff is and how much they get done without any glitches. Also, the young staff are direct recipients of the numerous leadership exposures and experiences that are available to all members.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
Jim and Tracey seem to be the team that makes everything click.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
We participate in events that help our senior staff stay in touch with issues that they may be too busy to learn about and ask our younger staff to participate in programs and events that will allow them to grow into the best leaders they can. 


Jodi Duncan

Jodi Duncan

As president of Flint Group, Jodi’s belief in the business is grounded in, “together, we are all in.” At Flint Group, being all in means living the values of – do the right thing; take initiative; stay curious and open-minded; love what you do; go where you are needed most; be the person you want to work with; give back.

Well-versed in brand strategy and planning, Jodi has helped companies of all sizes and in many industries, effectively tell their story. Her experience spans technology, insurance, manufacturing and government.

Jodi has become an advocate for women in business. Guided by a strong desire to help women develop their own voices, build confidence and understand obstacles, Jodi writes a Women in Business blog and speaks on women empowerment topics.

*Jodi’s favorite quote: “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” – Brene Brown

Flint Group
Employees: 100+
Year Founded: 1946
Website: flint-group.com

Two of Flint Group’s longest clients have been with us for nearly our entire 75 years. This is highly unusual for the average agency/client relationship which is around 18 months.

Roger Reierson was part of the agency through the MadMen era when three martini lunches were part of the gig. He currently serves as our Executive Chairman and is an incredible role model.

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known. 

1. Depth of knowledge of local businesses
2. Membership and business promotional opportunities
3. Fueling our Future
4. Political engagement

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber?

  • Voices of Vision – interesting speakers
  • Leadership program – I went through this in the 90’s
  • YPN – good opportunity for young people

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
Information and training events. I also appreciate the active involvement in political issues that impact business.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
We have one of the strongest and most active Chambers in the region, good networking opportunities and are dedicated advocates for business success.

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
The strength in membership numbers.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
Craig Whitney was a great advocate for women and made it a priority to have women play a larger role in the Chamber.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
It grants us access to many businesses and insight into challenges for local businesses. It also provides us opportunities to get in front of business leaders.


Anne Blackhurst, Co-Chair of The Chamber Education Committee

Anne Blackhurst

Anne Blackhurst became the 11th president of Minnesota State University Moorhead on July 1, 2014 after serving three years as MSUM’s Provost and Senior Vice President. She is known on and off-campus as a leader, collaborator, connector to the greater community, strategic thinker, marathon runner and social media user. In her signature red blazer, she is a visible presence on campus and in the Fargo-Moorhead community, where she serves on the Boards of Directors of the FMWF Chamber of Commerce; Downtown Moorhead, Inc.; and Eventide Senior Living Communities. Anne lives in Moorhead with her dogs, Sadie and Roscoe.  She has completed 11 marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2015.

Minnesota State University Moorhead
Employees: 630
Year Founded: 1887
Website:mnstate.edu
Awards: MSUM’s students regularly win honors and distinctions. A recent sampling of student honors is available at linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6661969036475191298/
Certifications: Many of our academic programs have prestigious accreditations or certifications. Our Paseka School of Business, for example, is accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which accredits only 5% of business schools worldwide.

MSUM is the second largest employer in Moorhead. Approximately 40% of our graduates live and work in Fargo-Moorhead after graduation. We are a purpose-driven organization committed to transforming the world by transforming the lives of our students.  Our culture is defined by our core values of grit, humility, and heart.

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known.
 
1. Strong support for K-12 and higher education
2. A strong network of diverse businesses
3. Collaboration with other business and community organizations

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber?

  • Education Committee
  • Women Connect
  • Professionals of Color Network

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
There is a common misperception that the Chamber has a narrow focus. In reality, Chamber leaders understand that a strong community is a prerequisite for a strong business environment. To that end, the Chamber builds partnerships with education, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies with the goal of strengthening the social and economic fabric of Fargo-Moorhead.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
Join at a membership level you are comfortable with and take advantage of as many Chamber events and services as you can. The benefits far outweigh the membership fees.

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
The diversity of businesses and the vast array of programs and member services.  There’s something for every business and every business professional.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight? The Chamber staff are extraordinarily talented and dedicated. And, of course, Craig Whitney was a visionary and transformational leader.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
As a higher education institution, we benefit from building partnerships with local businesses that ultimately benefit our academic programs and our students. We also benefit from keeping our pulse on the needs of the business community so we can be as responsive as possible in our programming.


Kevin Christianson, Board Member

Kevin Christianson

Kevin was born and raised in Mandan ND. He graduated from Mandan Highschool and then continued his education at Moorhead State University pursuing a degree in accounting and computer science. In 1983 Kevin founded the business Viking Home Improvement. After a decade, he sold that business, and that is when Paces Lodging Corporation was formed. In 1993 PACES was primarily a developer of hotel properties in North Dakota, Montana, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arizona.  Since then, PACES has grown into the areas of land development, architecture, construction management, commercial contracting-known as Design Resources Group (DRG), as well as providing a full-service real estate sales/leasing/brokerage team and property management company known as Property Resources Group (PRG). All companies work out of our corporate headquarters in Fargo, ND.  We pride ourselves in our ability to take projects through every step of development from land acquisition to signing tenant leases and managing the property.

PACES:
Employees: Approximately 150
Year Founded: 1993
Website: propertyresourcesgroup.com

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known. 

  1.  Member Directory
  2. Marketing Materials and Advertising
  3. Referrals

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber?
I appreciate a number of events hosted by the chamber, but my favorite events include those that celebrate individuals in our community who are working hard, thriving, and contributing to the overall big picture of comradery and economic success in our community.

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
I believe The Chamber does a wonderful job in providing resources and networking opportunities for new and upcoming businesses and entrepreneurs, while at the same time continuing to support established businesses through a variety of means such as continuing education and networking events.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
I would respond with the follow-up question of, “why wouldn’t you become a member?” To live in a community that has such an active chamber that not only spans across one, but two states and 3+ cities is remarkable. Not only does the chamber provide resources and endless opportunities, it provides a built-in family who will support you, help you through the difficult times, and celebrate with you in the successful times.

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
I have continued to be pleasantly surprised by the consistent “fire” behind the chamber. It never waivers in maintaining the excitement, support, and encouragement of upcoming entrepreneurs and businesses in our community that make it what it is today. 

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
I would like to thank the chamber as a whole for their continued support and dedication to businesses throughout the FMWF area.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
There are many ways our company benefits from the chamber, this year specifically we had an employee participate in the FMWF Leadership Program. Through this program, the employee was exposed to a variety of different professionals and companies all while learning skills and information that could be brought back to continue the betterment of our company. It is important to never stop progressing and improving current protocols and company methods. 


Joanna Slominski, Board Member

Joanna Slominski

Joanna is a market executive with Mortenson and has been a leader in the construction industry for 16 years. She recently managed the new Sanford Fargo Medical Center —Fargo-Moorhead’s largest construction project and one of the top 10 largest healthcare construction projects in the nation. As market executive, Joanna plans, organizes, staffs, and oversees construction and manages operations across the state of North Dakota and central and northern Minnesota. 

As a Glyndon resident, Joanna is very involved in the local community. She participates and fosters support for organizations like United Way, Habitat for Humanity – Women Build. In addition to serving on the FMWF Chamber Board of Directors she is on the Advisory Board of Construction Management and Engineering and Architecture/ Landscape Architecture at NDSU, of Trustees for United Way of Cass-Clay, mentor’s students at local universities and is involved in outreach to local schools for the construction industry and STEM fields.

Mortenson:
Employees: 20+ Locally 7000+ Nationally
Year Founded: 1954
Website:mortenson.com
Awards: Mortenson has won over 100 awards during their time in business.

Anything else about your company you can share? Any stories, interesting tidbits, fun facts, etc?
As a family owned company, our culture is unique and our people are our biggest asset.

Hidden FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known.

  • Unique Opportunities to Network
  • Unique Opportunities for Advocacy

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber?

  • Voices of Vision
  • Chamber Challenge – Fun team building
  • FMWF Chamber Leadership

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
Creates connections for people to become more engaged in community affairs and build networks.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
The Chamber is a great opportunity to be more informed about community issues and for leaders to have opportunities for team member engagement.

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
The amount of opportunities to be engaged in, add value to community efforts and meet new people is tremendous!

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
Kudos to the Chamber team that creates the ideas and then brings the opportunities and events to life!

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
Our organization benefits through team member engagement opportunities and information provided about community issues.


Brittany Montecuollo, Board Member

Brittany Montecuollo

As vice president of operations for Sanford Fargo, Brittany Montecuollo is responsible for the management and operations of the Fargo market for Sanford Health.

Montecuollo has more than 20 years of experience in the health care industry as a leader in nursing, regulatory, accreditation, emergency management, infection control, policy management and clinical operations. She joined Sanford Health in 2009 and became vice president of nursing and clinical services at Sanford Fargo in 2017 and vice president of operations in 2019.

Montecuollo has a degree in nursing from the University of South Dakota. She also holds a master’s degree and a doctorate of nursing practice in leadership and development from Walden University in Minneapolis.

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known.

  1.  The vast network of colleagues you gain access to
  2. Broader perspective of the FMWF communities
  3. Bringing credibility to your business

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber?

  • YEA – Young Entrepreneurs Academy
  • Eggs and Issues
  • State of the Cities

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
I believe our chamber does an amazing job of bringing together community members and businesses of wide-spanning. 

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
Do it! The chamber team is ferociously committed to supporting the needs of your business in the FMWF community. The offerings and benefits are endless. Regardless of your size or industry, the chamber has benefits for you!

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
Our chamber is dynamic and progressive. The sheer number of offerings was surprising to me as I entered the community 3 years ago.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
I would like to recognize the entire Chamber team for their leadership, resiliency and dedication over the last year. They have done an amazing job keeping the mission moving forward while honoring their late leader, Craig Whitney.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
Sanford Health has grown and strengthened many meaningful relationships throughout the community through the Chamber. We appreciate all the Chamber does to support Sanford and the broader community.


Peter Stenehjem, Board Member

Peter Stenehjem

Peter Stenehjem, a fourth-generation community banker, has been with First International Bank & Trust for nearly two decades. Well-versed in business and personal banking, Peter first started as a teller in 2000, helping customers with their routine account transactions, moving on to serve in multiple departments ranging from Credit Review to Commercial Banking. Before being named President, Peter held the positions of Chief Retail Banking Officer and President/Fargo Market Manager, overseeing the operations of five offices.

In addition to his current role, Peter is a director of Watford City Bancshares, Inc., and is a member of the FIB&T Board of Directors and the Strategic Planning Committee. Peter is involved in several entrepreneurial ventures, including Alati Energy, Stenehjem Holdings, Stonehome Brew Pub, and Stonehome Brewing Company, Outlaws Bar & Grill, and JL Beers. He’s also managing partner of Stenehjem Development.

A leading member of the North Dakota business community, Peter is on the FMWF Chamber Board of Directors, the Sanford Health Medical Board of Directors (Fargo Region), and the Dakota Medical Foundation Governance Committee. He is also part of a Fueling our Future, long-term imitative focused on large-scale economic and community solutions for the Fargo region, serving on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Formerly, Peter co-chaired the UND Game Day Experience Committee and served on the Sanford Health Foundation committee. He was named to Prairie Business Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2016, and Independent Community Bankers of America’s 40 Under 40 in 2020.

Peter graduated from the University of North Dakota in 2007 with a degree in Banking & Financial Economics and earned his graduate in Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. Peter has professional memberships with ICBA as a Certified Commercial Lender, Dakota Medical Foundation, and the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber Leadership Program. He is also actively involved in both the Fargo-Moorhead and Watford City communities, where he volunteers with organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Great Plains Food Bank, United Way, and the Salvation Army.

Peter and his wife Stacey are parents to 18 month-old daughter, Evelyn.

First International Bank & Trust
Employees: 680 total, 211 FMWF area
Year Founded: 1910
Website: firstintlbank.com
Awards: Prairie Business 50 Best Places to Work; Extraordinary Banking Hall of Fame 

Our history begins with Farmer’s State Bank in Arnegard, North Dakota. The bank was issued a charter and opened for business on May 1, 1910. In 1911, Odin Stenehjem became the first Farmer’s State Bank cashier, his brother, Gerhard Stenehjem, became its first President. It was the only bank in McKenzie County to survive the Great Depression and reopen after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered the banks closed for a week in March 1933.

In 1934, the bank moved to Watford City when it was named the County Seat of McKenzie County. At that time, the name changed to First International Bank. “Never a Loss of a Depositor’s Dollar,” was not only a slogan, but a point of pride for the family-owned bank, as the county, and North Dakota’s residents moved forward from the Great Depression.

Today, the fourth generation of Stenehjem bankers leads FIBT. The bank now operates 28 offices in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Arizona.  FIBT is a full-service financial institution, offering insurance, wealth management, and banking solutions.

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known. 

  1. Advocacy: in local, state, and national issues
  2. Influence: opportunity to amplify voice 
  3. Unique marketing opportunities

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber? Please Explain

  • Voices of Vision 
  • Leadership FMWF 
  • Corporate Cup 

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
The Chamber is amazing at framing and selling the FMWF area as one of the best areas to live, play, and work in the United States. Our cities are regularly garnishing national recognition for being among the most livable communities and the hottest job markets. The Chamber plays a significant role in bringing in and keeping top employers in our area, then creating a favorable environment for them to thrive. The adage, “you are what you attract,” applies in the best possible way to our area. Thanks in part to the Chamber, great businesses are headquartered here, and we see consistent, quality growth in our business community.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
The biggest concern for a lot of business owners deciding whether or not to become a Chamber member is the time commitment. We all have hectic schedules, and being an active member of the Chamber can fill-up your calendar. However, I don’t know of a more time-effective way to increase your business’s credibility and visibility. Also, consider the time and effort membership will save you when it comes to staying on top of policy that could impact your business. Your returns will well-outweigh the time invested.

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
No matter how many Chamber events I go to or programs I participate in, I am consistently and pleasantly surprised by the quality of both production and presentation. From speaking events to annual celebrations, the Chamber’s functions feel like an experience you could have in a much larger community. I’m so thankful they invest the time and dollars to bring these functions to our big-small towns.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
Craig Whitney. He was a great man with a great vision. His leadership and business advocacy through the Chamber shaped the FMWF business community into what it is today. He had a knack for networking that brought people from all sectors of business and government together. 

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
The Chamber helps FIBT continue to build a strong network of contacts and develop leads. The Chamber does more than introduce you to others; it provides networking tools and opportunities. Workshops and programs offer opportunities for our people to hone their networking skills. Chamber mixers and celebrations can be a great place to connect with a potential client. Online networking is great, but it doesn’t hold the same power as connecting with someone face to face. These functions are critical to hiring, learning about opportunities, and landing more accounts.


Mark Nisbet, Past Chair of the Board

Mark Nisbet

Mark Nisbet is the North Dakota Principal Manager for Xcel Energy, the fourth-largest combination natural gas and electricity company in the nation; serving 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers in eight Western and Midwestern states. In 2019, Xcel Energy completed construction on the Foxtail Wind Farm in Dickey County which will bring Xcel Energy to 500 MW of owned wind plus 112 MW of purchased wind power in North Dakota. Mark has shown a personal commitment to renewable energy by installing 40 KW of solar panels on his farm and purchasing the all-electric Chevy Bolt.

Xcel Energy has numerous national firsts for its work with Unmanned Aerial Systems. Mark has been a team member on several of those projects and has served as a connection to the Northern Plains Test site located in Grand Forks ND.

Mark serves on the board for the North Dakota EmPower Commission, North Dakota Renewable Energy Council, the West Fargo Economic Development Authority and was the 2019 Chair of the Board for the Fargo Moorhead Chamber of Commerce.  He also has served as chairman of the governor’s Centers of Excellence Commission, and was the 2016 United Way of Cass Clay Campaign Chair and serves as a United Way Board member.  Mark received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.  He is a graduate of the Minnesota Management Institute at the Carlson School of Business, University of Minnesota. Mark lives in Fargo with his wife, Sandy and they have three sons.

“I am very proud of the fact that over the last 5 years we have invested over 1 billion dollars in building out 500 MW of wind in ND.”

Mark Nisbet

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known.
Time with local, state and national leaders.

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber?

  • State of the Cities
  • Eggs and Issues
  • Policy Committee

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community? The Chamber helps rally support for the issues that are critical to the long term growth of business and community.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
I think it is a great opportunity to have your business become known by the larger business community. The number of programs and opportunities to learn from other businesses is unmatched.

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
It doesn’t surprise me but it impresses me how hard the Chamber is working to stay relevant for small businesses, attracting younger and minority members.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
I think the Chamber is a great place for young people to go to work. We are seeing spectacular success from a generation that some people have worried about. We see dedication first at the Chamber and as they continue their business careers in the region as the opportunities arise.

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
 I work at Xcel Energy and we try to do the right things in the community. The Chamber serves as an early sounding board for policy changes.


Jeffry Volk, Board Member

Jeffry Volk

Only days after graduating from NDSU with a civil engineering degree, Jeffry Volk went to work for Moore Engineering as a graduate engineer. Forty-plus years later, he’s still there, only now he’s the CEO.

If you asked him what’s had the biggest impact on Moore Engineering during that time, Jeff would tell you it’s the company’s transition to an employee ownership structure. The company went 100 percent ESOP in 2004, just a year after winning the Chamber’s prestigious Business of the Year Award.

The second biggest impact, he’d tell you, was the region’s remarkable growth over the past 25 years. Jeff was the lead engineer and project manager for the Sheyenne River diversion, a project that allowed the City of West Fargo to expand its territory south of Interstate 94 by reducing the risk posed by nearly annual floods. That stability was a catalyst for historic population and economic growth.

In addition to his Chamber board service, Jeff and his wife Jeanie are passionate Bison boosters, with Jeff serving on the NDSU Foundation’s executive governing board. In addition to the Chamber board, he also serves on the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation board & executive committee and the FargoDome Authority building committee.

Moore Engineering
Employees: 135
Year Founded: 1960
Website: mooreengineeringinc.com
Awards:

  • Chamber Business of the Year 
  • Numerous ACEC Engineering Excellence Awards 
  • ENR Top 500 Design Firms 
  • PSMJ Circle of Excellence 
  • Employer of the Year 
  • Metro Area Mayors Committee for People with Disabilities 
  • ACEC Young Professional of the Year (national) – Kurt Lysne, West Fargo Office Manager

Hidden FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known. 

  • YEA – business education for our Youth
  • Fueling our Future – planted and nurtured the seed

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from the Chamber? 

  • Voices of Vision – diverse national speakers
  • Eggs & Issues – variety of current relevant topics
  • Fueling our Future – economic growth support

What do you believe the Chamber does the best for our business community?
The Chamber coordinates with other business interest advocates to improve business and economic development with local, state and national policymakers. 

What advice do you have for businesses wondering if they should become a member or not?
The return on your Chamber investment is directly proportionate to the time and effort provided by the member firm and their staff in the numerous Chamber events and programs. 

What is something about this Chamber that surprised you?
How much gets accomplished with relatively few staff.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of the Chamber you would like to show praise or highlight?
I’d be remiss to not acknowledge the significant impact Craig Whitney had leading the Chamber during his tenure. That said, the many Chamber successes are a result of a very dedicated Chamber staff.   

How does your company or organization benefit from the chamber?
The Chamber provides opportunities for staff to receive leadership and business development skills; allows company leadership to engage with other business and community leaders, and allows for the development of critical business advocacy positions.


Steve Swiontek

Steve Swiontek

Swiontek has created a legacy of innovation, servant leadership, community giving, empowerment and fun.

During his more than 42 years at Gate City Bank, Executive Chair Steve Swiontek has been on a journey to create a better way of life for customers, communities and team members. Gate City Bank is the only company he’s worked for since college, and he’s set to retire June 30. 

Swiontek became President in 2000, and in 2001 was named President and CEO, as well as Chair of the Board. Starting July 1, 2020, Swiontek will remain on the board of directors as Chair.

Throughout Swiontek’s time, Gate City Bank has grown from 16 locations, 140 team members and $490 million in assets into an organization with 43 locations, 770 team members and $2.4 billion in assets – all while helping provide a better way of life in the community. Thanks to his innovative leadership, the Bank has become the region’s leading financial institution.

More About Swiontek

Swiontek is a proud North Dakota native who was born and raised in Edgeley. He later attended North Dakota State University, where he met his wife, Mary Anne, served as Student Body President and gained his enthusiastic support of Bison athletics and academics.

Throughout his life, Swiontek was encouraged by his father’s homegrown philosophy, “Just do your job and things will come along.” When he graduated from college in 1978, there were many challenges in the banking industry. But applying his father’s philosophy, Swiontek began working for Gate City Bank because it was – even then – locally focused and community-driven.

Swiontek has spent his entire career managing change and implementing his innovative ideas at Gate City Bank. He started as a Management Trainee in 1978, working his way up to experience banking from nearly every position and perspective. From running mortgage payments on his first day, to earning his current role of Executive Chair, Swiontek has witnessed nearly half of the bank’s 97-year history. 

Steve lives in Fargo, ND with his wife Mary Anne and is the proud father to two daughters.

Gate City Bank
Employees: 770 team members
Year Founded: 1923
Website: gatecity.bank

Three “hidden” FMWF Chamber advantages you don’t believe are fully appreciated or known:

  1. Being part of The Chamber is a wonderful opportunity because it enhances the voice of local businesses and organizations that care about serving our community.
  2. The Chamber is a great way for fellow members to support one another through activities like community giving, networking and professional development.
  3. By being a Chamber member, you are part of an organization that helps stimulate the local economy and supports other businesses.

What are your favorite events, programs or offerings from The Chamber?

  • Women Connect: At Gate City Bank, we believe in empowering people to lead, and I’m incredibly proud that 70% of our leadership positions are held by women. Women Connect is a wonderful opportunity for talented, hardworking and courageous women to come together in a unique forum to explore leadership.
  • Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo: It’s amazing to think this program has been around for more than 30 years. It’s a great way for local professionals to learn from one another and get involved in their community through service and learning. 
  • Young Professionals Network (YPN): Local young professionals are the future of our community. YPN is truly an amazing resource that helps them network, volunteer and learn while also having fun.

What do you believe The Chamber does best for our business community?
The Chamber is exceptionally good at recognizing the incredible talent in our community, as well as empowering local professionals to leverage their expertise in a way that benefits the entire region.

What advice do you have for businesses wondering about becoming a member?
Becoming a Chamber member opens up the door to countless opportunities to learn, grow and give back to an amazing community.

What is something about The Chamber that surprised you?
The Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee has surprised me in the most wonderful way. It has a total economic impact to the region of more than $100 million. Military support is something I strongly believe in, as well. Gate City Bank created a program to continue paying and providing full benefits for team members who are active service members while they’re on duty. They also get an extra two weeks of paid time off when they come off active duty to rest and relax before coming back to work.

Is there anyone, or any aspect of The Chamber itself you would like to show praise or highlight?
I would like to express my deep appreciation for everyone at the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. The work you do is so inspiring, and you play a vital role in the advancement of our community. On a special note, I’d like to also express my appreciation for the late Craig Whitney, former Chamber President and CEO. He most definitely left his fingerprint on this community, and he is very much missed.

How does your company or organization benefit from The Chamber?
Gate City Bank benefits from The Chamber in many ways. We’ve had team members participate in opportunities like Women Connect, Leadership Fargo Moorhead West Fargo program and Young Professionals Network. The Chamber gives us the pulse of the community, allowing us to stay up to date on the needs of our neighbors so we can continue to help them create a better way of life.

Kyle Dorow

Kyle Dorow

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to conduct an interview with Kyle. Stay tuned for more information on Dorow in a future issue.

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Written by Brady Drake

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