FMWF Chamber turns 10
FMWF Chamber turns 10
We’re celebrating an anniversary! Ten years ago, The Chamber as we know it today had just come together when the Fargo Moorhead Chamber merged with the West Fargo Area Chamber. This past decade has been full of success, incredible moments, much growth and success, and lots of hard work along the way. To reflect on how this all came together and what it’s meant since, check out what just some of the key individuals involved had to say.
“The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo business community made a bold statement of unity when it chose to merge the region’s two independent chambers into a single entity.”
As our 2011 Annual Report stated: “The Chamber’s first year as the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce is one that will go down in history. On October 1, 2010, three chambers with hundreds of years of service to three unique and thriving communities joined together to serve the good of the region. This single, stronger chamber of commerce is poised on the leading edge of regional cooperation. It’s a momentous collaboration with unlimited opportunity for progress.”
Share with us your favorite moments or photos from the past decade! Tweet us @FMWFChamber and use #FMWFCelebrate to add to the conversation.
A huge thank you for your support this past decade. We’re so proud of what we have accomplished together and can’t wait to keep serving you in the decades yet to come.
- 1879 – Fargo Chamber of Commerce established
- 1928 – Moorhead Chamber established
- 1958 – West Fargo Area Chamber of Commerce established
- 1998 – Fargo Chamber merges with Moorhead Chamber
- 2010 – Fargo Moorhead Chamber merges with West Fargo Area Chamber of Commerce
- 2011 – Rebranded to “The Chamber” and new logo unveiled
- 2012 – Office remodeled
- 2020 – 10-year anniversary
New committees and programs since 2010
- Military Affairs committee restarted
- Business Leaders for Permanent Flood Protection Taskforce formed
- FMWF Air National Guard Support Group formed
- Women Connect program launched
- Youth leadership programs started
- Eggs & Issues events begin
- Honor Star program launched
- Education committee formed
- Agribusiness committee formed
- Professionals of Color committee and programming launched
- Fueling Our Future launched
What staff had to say
Five current Chamber staff have been with The Chamber for 10 or more years. Here’s what they each had to say about going through the merger and what we’ve accomplished together since then.
“Through my 20 years at The Chamber, we have always tried to help, and that theme has continued. We consistently have added new events and programs and invited more people to our table. Adding West Fargo helped us become a true community-based organization. Especially after the merger, we made an effort to be inclusive of all the cities we represent. Getting involved in policy work is one of the ways we’ve done that, going to work in both states to represent our members on both sides of the river.” – Jim Parsons
“The West Fargo office had great personal relationships with members in their community. I remember going to their office to help merge our data. We were fired up to get a new logo when it all came together. After that, I think Craig helped move our chamber forward, and he started some exciting new events that really helped us grow.” – Julie Doggett
“I think our merger was the best thing for our community, even though it took awhile for us all to get things figured out. No matter how busy we get, I’ve loved watching our events grow, and everything always coming together. I think that bringing in big names likes Rachel Hollis and everyone at Voices of Vision shows what kind of Chamber we are. Through all our hard work and awards, it feels good to be recognized and appreciated. I love working with our members and being there for them!” – Julie Yourczek
“We have grown so much as a Chamber in these past 10 years. Under Craig’s leadership, we introduced new events and programs like Voices of Vision, Eggs & Issues and Women Connect, and strengthened our advocacy and policy work. Things like advocating for our military, permanent flood protection, a convention center, and workforce collaborations. The list goes on, but what really impresses me is how much support there is in our community and what we’ve done together since merging as a chamber. I am just so proud to be a part of all of this.” – Tracy Powell
“When Craig came to town, he really drove us to make so many positive changes and create new opportunities for members. He always wanted things to be bigger and better. His famous line to me was to take it to the next level. Looking back, I think we accomplished just that.” – Bobbi Jo Rehder
Memories from our board chairs
“The idea of merging the two Chambers had come up many times over the years, but it was in 2010 that these discussions started to develop momentum. Kathy Lewin and Bernie Dardis were very involved from West Fargo, and we had many thoughtful discussions. When Craig came in as Chamber president, everything just started clicking. I really think having the right people involved at the right time was what allowed our community to come together. The coming months and years really showed what we could do as a united business community. I feel so blessed to have been part of that process.” – Karen Lauer, Board Chair, 2009-10 Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead
“There were two great memories for me being part of the Board: One was being part of the team that met with and worked with the West Fargo Chamber subcommittee on our merger. The conversations and cooperation between the two groups was fantastic. The shared vision of what we could become was inspiring for our communities. Secondly, I was part of the team that hired Craig. We never thought he would accept, but we felt he was the right man at the right time to accelerate The Chamber and the work we did for our membership. We were right and very fortunate to have him part of our community for the time we did.” – Jeff Thomas, Cornerstone Bank, Board Chair 2010-11
“The things I enjoyed most was serving with the women and men who we recruited to join the Board. They were great leaders in their companies, and they brought their experience, leadership styles and energy to The Chamber. These fantastic people combined with Craig Whitney’s leadership, energy experience, vision – and Craig’s sense of humor – was amazing to be a part of. I consider many of them great friends that I will cherish forever.” – Bernie Dardis, Board Chair 2013-14
“The biggest topic during my year as board chair was the start of Fueling Our Future. ... I remember the board being very engaged in the process and Craig being very focused on making this a success. I will always be grateful for my time on the board of The Chamber and the years I spent with the leadership. It was a very rewarding experience, and I have developed some great personal and business relationships with many board members as a result.” – Judd Graham, Bremer Bank, Board Chair 2016-17
“The big thing I remember during my year as chair was when we took a position on permanent flood protection. Even though it is still today a controversial issue, it was the first time we took a stance in doing what we thought best served the entire community. Another big part of that year was going all in in support of our military, including a lot of advocacy efforts both locally and in D.C. on behalf of the Air Guard. One of Craig’s best moments was when we secured Lee Greenwood for the night at the RedHawks, and every year since he had his song queued up to replay at any moment. We’re fortunate to have such a highly functioning board with great people taking on the call to represent our business community. It’s an honor to have served in that role.” – Jon Riewer, Eventide Senior Living Communities, Board Chair 2015-16
- Craig Whitney has been the only president since the merger
- In 1895 the Fargo Chamber changed its name to the Board of Trade and in 1911 to the Fargo Commercial Club. December 8, 1927, another change was made to the Chamber of Commerce of Fargo, North Dakota
- Annual West Fargo Chamber membership dues per firm in 1958: $25
- One of the West Fargo Chamber’s first projects in 1959 was relocating the fairgrounds from Fargo to West Fargo
- West Fargo Chamber office was last located in the Lodoen Community Center; today staff works out of the Hjemkomst Center
- The West Fargo Chamber’s biggest community event was West Fest, which the city has since taken on
- Both organizations were given the opportunity to vote on approving the merger. West Fargo Chamber ballots yielded 72% yes; Fargo Moorhead Chamber ballots yielded a 98% yes vote
- Number of members at the time of merging: West Fargo: 420; FM: 1,800
- Immediate advocacy work included supporting the re-opening of the Highway 52 East Main Avenue/I-94 Interchange ramps in Moorhead, the continuation of local government aid programs for Minnesota, the proposed constitutional amendment vote to create a Legacy Fund in North Dakota with revenues from the oil and gas extraction fees; maintaining the existing sign code in Fargo and the proposed half-cent sales tax in Cass County.
- Voices of Vision debuted in the fall of 2010 with Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North
- The first official membership campaign, “Members Get It” wrapped in April 2011.
- In our first fiscal year together, we were involved in Chamber Day at the RedHawks and Chamber Day with the Fargo Force, and the record-setting build for ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition!