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Thousands of runners will be flocking to the Fargo area this weekend to participate in the eighth annual Fargo Marathon. It has best described as Flat, Fast, Friendly & Fun… with an emphasis on Friendly & Fun! The Fargo Marathon has been the recipient of the Runner’s World Magazine Reader’s Choice Award as the #1 Best Value Marathon in America. Runners World also recognized the event as the 8th Best Overall Marathon in America in January 2010.
The festivities kick off on Thursday with a youth half mile and 1-mile run. Also starting Thursday is the Health and Fitness Expo at the Fargo Dome. Runners can pick up their packets and visit more than 80 vendors showcasing the latest and greatest in food, clothing, shoes, souvenirs and more.
Let the carb loading begin! On Friday night the pasta and lefse feed will be filling all of our runners with extra carbohydrates so they have extra energy for the big race. Friday evening is the start of the event with the 5K race. This year, the Fargo Marathon Organization set a goal to register 10,000 runners for the 5K. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and NIKE have partnered to produce a matching funds program with the goal of raising enough money to purchase a new pair of running shoes for 1000 underprivileged children in the Red River Valley.
On your mark…get set…run! Saturday morning the 10K kicks off bright and early at 7 a.m. with the half marathon runners starting at 7:30 and the full marathon runners at 8:15 a.m. If you are in the Fargo area you should definitely come down and cheer on the runners. The “cheerleaders” as I call them are an important part of the race. They keep runners excited and driven to keep going. If you can get to the finish line, which is inside the Fargo Dome, it is such a neat experience to see runners of all sizes and ages cross the finish line. What an amazing accomplishment it is for all the runners. The Fargo Marathon is one of the coolest events North Dakota has so get out and cheer on the runners this weekend!
Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Greg Folley, vice president of Caterpillar Inc.’s Remanufacturing & Components Division, announced yesterday that the heavy equipment manufacturing company plans a major expansion at its West Fargo plant.
In August, Caterpillar officials will begin a $50 million expansion project that will create about 250 new jobs during the next three years, nearly doubling the West Fargo plant’s current workforce of 300 employees. The project includes building a 225,000-square-foot addition to the West Fargo plant where Caterpillar employees remanufacture parts for Caterpillar mining equipment. The expansion project is slated to be completed in June 2012. In April, Dalrymple, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the city of West Fargo Economic Development and the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation began contacting officials at Illinois-based Caterpillar, encouraging them to consider West Fargo for their expansion plans.
“We emphasized that Caterpillar would benefit from a workforce that is second to none, that they would benefit from a responsive state government with strong business support services and that they would also benefit from low corporate and property taxes,” Dalrymple said. “With many remanufacturing facilities throughout the United States and the world, Caterpillar had many site options for this expansion. We’re pleased that they appreciate our business climate and we look forward to their growing business presence in North Dakota.”
Caterpillar’s remanufacturing operations return end-of-life components to their original condition in terms of reliability, durability and performance. The West Fargo expansion will help Caterpillar meet the strong demand for remanufactured drive train components for large, off-highway trucks and other mining equipment, including final drives, transmissions, torque convertors and steering clutches.
The plant’s expanded footprint will house high-tech machining, metal additive processes and a state-of-the-art metal sciences lab which will support the company’s increased production of remanufactured parts and advanced wear coatings.
In 2008, Caterpillar purchased the West Fargo remanufacturing plant from Gremada Industries which was established by Greg, Matthew and David Butler in 1962. With the assistance of business loans provided by the Bank of North Dakota and with workforce training assistance provided by North Dakota Job Service, Gremada’s business expanded to include more than 200 employees.
Annually, Forbes magazine releases its Best Places for Business and Careers rankings. The rankings look at both large and small metros across the 50 states in the categories of cost of doing business, job growth projected, educational attainment and metro area population.
North Dakota is proud to claim two of the cities that made the top 10 for Best Places for Business and Careers in Small Metros – Bismarck (4th) and Fargo (9th) — and let us not forget, Grand Forks who made the top 100 in the 45th spot. You may be saying great, but so what? What does something like a simple ranking do to help grow North Dakota?
Actually, it does more than you might think. Many companies use site selection firms when they think about where to locate or expand their business. These site selection firms do just what it sounds like they do — they help the company find the right “site” for them. They do this through a number of different tools, one of which just happens to be a variety of rankings done by many companies nationwide. These rankings help site selection companies and others quickly narrow a vast field of states and cities in which to locate. Many rankings, similar to the Forbes ranking, are then used by other services, to help them determin their rankings and so on. So when North Dakota does good in one ranking, it can sometimes help move it upward in other rankings as well.
So, while it may not mean much to us that the Beacon Hill Competitiveness Report named North Dakota number three overall for its ability to promote economic growth and provide high income for workers long term, it may mean a lot to someone the state would like it to mean a lot too.
In the end, everyone likes to come out on top in a good, fair competition and should celebrate when they do so. Please join us in celebrating the Forbes ranking, and if you are hungry for more fun North Dakota statistics check out the rankings database at NDBusiness.com.
Fox Business News took a live look at Fargo’s Microsoft Campus from their new building. I could tell you the tale, but it’s best heard straight from them. Visit FoxBusiness.com to view North Dakota, Microsoft Rise Above the Recession.