We're a little biased, but the talent pool around Fargo is tremendous. Within 100 miles there are a lot of colleges. We run a very strong intern program -- that's not real expensive -- to augment our workforce.
Lighthouse1, with about 100 employees between Fargo and Minneapolis, provides software-as-a-service for managing health care reimbursement accounts for consumers and small businesses.
Microsoft's presence makes recruiting easier for us. If you hire someone, maybe their spouse wants to work in a big company, or maybe someone wants to leave a big business for a smaller shop.
People right out of school can afford to live better here, maybe buy a house earlier and spend time on a lake. The Fargo-Moorhead economic development council is very aggressive in technology. And the state has done a good job reinvesting dollars from the economic boom in energy and agriculture in the tech corridor.
There are jobs -- agriculture stayed strong throughout the recession, and North Dakota is one of only two states not running a significant budget deficit.
There are a lot of locally owned storefronts and restaurants and longtime, family-owned businesses. I think that means there's a bit of a different horizon on how to make money and succeed here, compared to venture capital scenarios elsewhere. People may be a bit more patient and focused long term. Doug Burgum, who sold Fargo-based Great Plains Software to Microsoft years ago, now runs Arthur Ventures, a local VC firm. -Barbara Darrow
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