When it comes to attracting talent, downtown Fargo is part of some corporate culture – Grand Forks Herald

When it comes to attracting and retaining employees during these momentous times of challenges and labor demands, companies are doing everything they can to stand out by providing a cultural experience and inviting work-life balance.

Often, part of that equation is location — and for Dan Altenbernd, managing partner at H2M, that means downtown Fargo.

It’s a place that has done well for business and it’s a place he intends to stay. One reason is that he thinks the location of the company, an advertising and marketing firm with clients in the Upper Midwest, helps attract employees and motivates them to be creative.

“Location is actually part of our culture,” he said.

Altenbernd, who has worked in some capacity downtown for about 20 years, enjoys promoting the area and in recent months has joined the Downtown Community Partnership, a community organization that goes beyond promoting traditional retail and special events to address the development challenges facing downtown.

“I did it because I’m a fan of what’s going on here,” he said. “What I personally love about downtown Fargo is the vibrancy and vibrancy. It is the possibility of walking (to other businesses and places). It might sound cliché to a lot of people, but I love the options downtown has to offer for office workers. These offerings are much more than nearby food and beverage services – although that’s also a plus.

“I think food and drink is oversold when it comes to downtown,” he said. “There is so much camaraderie in the downtown community that I completely appreciate. I feel like it might cost me a bit more to be here, but it’s an investment I chose to make because I believe being downtown actually attracts talent.

Kilbourne Group has helped many businesses settle in the town centre, including projects such as Kesler and Mercantile, two high-profile mixed-use projects in the heart of the town centre.

Kilbourne Group has helped many businesses settle in the town centre, including projects such as Kesler and Mercantile, two high-profile mixed-use projects in the heart of the town centre.

Image: Dan Francis, courtesy of Kilbourne Group

Mike Peschel, Kilbourne’s chief broker and business asset manager, said anyone can create their own unique office environment and make it as welcoming as they want, but a common theme he notices is that people are looking for integrated equipment close to the office.

“In the city centre, what interests people a lot is the idea that all the amenities are already there. They are already there,” he said. “So when people are looking for an office, they’re like, ‘Hey, we can make the office look like whatever we want. But we have 40 or 50 coffee shop type options around us. We have the ability to network with people who are on the street, walking from meeting to meeting.

“It becomes more of an opportunity for your business to thrive in a different environment than if it were in another part of town or a bit further away. When you’re driving from meeting to meeting, you’re not interacting with people every day. »

Peschel said Kilbourne Group monitors what is happening in the city centre, works closely with its customers and does its part to ensure Fargo remains an inviting place to live and work. With so many innovative minds downtown, he believes the vibrancy that many people mention will continue for the foreseeable future. And, he says, it will only get better.

This means that it will likely continue to attract new companies and talent to the scene.

“You can build an office in the middle of a farm and make it the coolest space in the world,” he said. “But you’re not surrounded by anything else that would be considered vibrant, walkable and cool.”

In Fargo, he said, a company gets all that and more.

“You have all these other conveniences that are right around you,” he said. “I think there was a vision 20 years ago (of what the city center could be) and we are trying to pursue that vision and find out what is the next project that makes sense and fills in the gaps , gaps. We try to see it all through: “Why does Fargo stand out from the nearest similar-sized city? Why would anyone choose Fargo over this?

Tara May knows why: not only is downtown Fargo vibrant with its array of shops, restaurants and entertainment options, but it attracts like-minded people, businesses that are on the cutting edge of technology. and change. People are innovative and able to meet each other easily, feeding each other creativity and ambitions.

May is vice president of communications and external affairs at RD Offutt Farms, a family-run potato farm headquartered in Fargo but with stores in several states. The company benefits from its new building in the city center, where some 400 employees work. To do this, he consolidated four offices into one.
She said the company has always been a great place to work, but the new building and its downtown location help cultivate an environment that encourages collaboration and teamwork.

RD Offutt Farms - Fargo2
A view of the fifth floor common area of ​​the RD Offutt Farms building in downtown Fargo, North Dakota.

Image: Courtesy of RD Offutt Farms

“We’re located right downtown, so there’s a lot of vibrancy just outside,” she said, noting that the building’s floor plan is a plane of transparency accented by meeting rooms. conference and smaller collaboration spaces. Technology plays an important role in its operations, and team members can virtually meet with colleagues further afield.

The building has a fifth-floor cafe and a common area “with beautiful views of the Fargo Theater and downtown,” May said. “We think there’s a lot of exciting things going on in downtown Fargo, and when it comes to the cultural and social happenings happening in this area, we’re at the center of it all.”

Outside the office is Broadway Plaza, where programs of various varieties are held throughout the year. In winter there is an ice rink and in summer it can be used for movies or shows. “There are many nights in the week when there’s something going on downtown and people are kind of excited and motivated by that energy,” she said.

This energy flows through the daily grind at the office, making it less strenuous or routine. Just being in that environment helps spark creativity, she said.

The pull of downtown Farghpo has been happening for years, according to Joe Raso, president and CEO of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. But its popularity only grew. He said it’s an advantage for many businesses to have a presence downtown.

“Years ago I had a CEO of a manufacturing company that was going to move into the industrial park in the community I represented and he asked about the development downtown, which was not not where his business was,” Raso said. “I asked why he was interested in downtown and he said, ‘Your downtown is the heart of your community, and that says a lot about how you feel about yourself if you concentrate on your town center and take care of it.’

“It has always stuck with me, and as we visit businesses in the greater Fargo-Moorhead area, I often hear the importance of downtown to their business, even though most are not located in the downtown. They say it’s extremely important to their recruitment of talent in the area.

For Altenbernd and his team at H2M, being downtown helps fuel the creative spirit, he said, and it attracts like-minded individuals and businesses where they can feed off the energy of the other. This is a bonus for the advertising firm and its clients.

As Downtown continues to evolve, so does H2M. It begins to attract customers closer to home.

“I would say 65% ​​of our customers aren’t even in our region, but we are making an impact,” Altenbernd said. “We actually won a lot of local customers here in the first quarter of this year, which is really rare for us.”

The entire H2M team does not work in the office; some are still working remotely, and Altenbernd said plans are underway to move into a smaller building. But he does not expect to leave the city center. The location has become part of the corporate culture, as much as some companies have year-end parties.

“I’ve said it before, I’ve said it for years, that to retain people – and when you bring people in if they’re from another part of town or even out of town – downtown Fargo is attractive,” he said. said, noting that winters aren’t always fun “but we have five and a half months that are pretty nice. And if you’ve had a rough day, you’re only 20 steps away from a cocktail.

James C. Tibbs