A Community Resource: Emerging Prairie

Guest Blog By: Annie Wood, Director of Community Programs, Emerging Prairie

Founded in 2013, Emerging Prairie began with the goal to create a community we all want to be part of. We want to do our part to make Fargo a great place to bet on ideas, start companies and improve the human condition through technology-based solutions. In 2016, Emerging Prairie became a non-profit organization and maintains its mission to connect and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

At Emerging Prairie, we live out our mission in multiple ways:

– Platforms: we have an online content publication and several events that create opportunities for people to share and spread their ideas. We also utilize platforms like 1 Million Cups (caffeinated by the Kauffman Foundation) and TEDxFargo to help champion these ideas.

– Coworking: we run The Prairie Den, a coworking and event space in downtown Fargo. The Den provides a home for startups, small businesses, entrepreneurs, an office away from the office for other organizations, and a place for people to meet.

– Connecting: we run multiple programs and groups that are designed for authentic connection for entrepreneurs to connect to other entrepreneurs, as well as build connections between members of the community.

– Convening: we play a role in helping bring entrepreneurs together so our community learns together and can share what we collectively need when folks like the Bank of North Dakota are working on new ways to serve the startup community.

Companies of any stage can connect with us. Some of our programs are geared to companies of different sizes, stages and industries. For example, 1 Million Cups Fargo (which is supported by the Kauffman Foundation) is curated to be primarily tech-based founders or entrepreneurs who have a product or software as a service (SaaS) companies. We work to put founders first, so many of our programs are more geared toward supporting founders versus the size and stage of the company.

The Prairie Den is an inclusive space in the heart of downtown Fargo – it’s truly a place for community to be built. We think of it like a student union for our city. Just like a student union on a college campus is a place for students to study, hold meetings and social events, The Prairie Den provides a similar area to the community. It’s a place for connecting, for working, for moving ideas forward, and for groups to gather. We offer workspace for teams, individuals, and as an office-away-from-the-office for employees of many organizations. We also have conference rooms, a classroom and even an event space that we rent to members and non-members.

The Den is also where Co.Starters is hosted by our friends at Folkways. Co.Starters is a nine-week course to help people with ideas turn them into businesses, or people with young businesses strengthen them.

Emerging Prairie subscribes to the Fargo Thesis, which Co-Founder and Executive Director Greg Tehven first wrote about in Fargo Monthly. The Fargo Thesis is to Connect It, Believe It and Love It. This is how we operate in our community –Connecting people; Believing that Fargo is a place of possibility; and showing love by celebrating and caring for community members.

As an organization, Emerging Prairie is excited about continuing to support our startup community. We believe ideas matter. We know it’s a leap of faith to start something new, so we want to celebrate those who take the leap. And we want to be an organization that helps pave the way for founders to bet on their ideas, to build teams around them and to pursue possibilities to create a community that we all want to be part of.

An Ode to Kicking “Butt”

1 Million Thanks 2016Okay, we’re not going to lie. We’re pretty proud to have won the Kick Ass Award at 1 Million Thanks (read more about it and all the other great honorees here). No, it’s not because we like having an excuse to use the adult version of “kick butt” around the office and in every day conversation … okay, fine, that’s not the only reason.

We’re proud because we believe hard work should be honored. And believe us, we’ve worked hard this past year. We’re working hard to change a mindset. Externally, we often hear we’re intimidating or boring accountants who talk in jargon. That’s why we’re trying to talk differently and really help you understand and embrace your accounting journey (yes, we just said that). To learn more, subscribe to this blog.

We’ve also heard that we’re too big. Well let’s be clear on this, we love working with startups, entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized businesses. We have a lot of resources and nifty people who are more than willing to help you imagine what’s possible through our Possibilities Center (see what we did there?).

In addition, we’re working hard to share our story. Because you see, our story is pretty cool.

In 1917, our business started because of the dream of an entrepreneur right here in Fargo. In May 2017, we’ll celebrate our 100 year anniversary (man we’re old, but you have to admit, some of us look pretty good). During that time, we’ve grown from a one stop shop in Fargo to a Top 25 CPA Firm in the nation with over 1,600 employees (yeah, there’s a lot of us EBers around) in 29 offices in 13 states. And we’re still headquartered right here in Fargo.

While we’ve come a long way, we also know that, to reach the next 100 years, we have to adapt and innovate. So we’re more than proud to have won the award. We’re also truly honored and INSPIRED.

In the past year, we’ve learned so much from so many of you and it has changed our thinking and altered the way we do business.

Here’s just a few of the lessons we’ve learned along the way:

  • It’s really fun to host parties with fabulous people. Our first foray into the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Fargo was Startup Weekend. What a kick off it was. We heard amazing pitches and celebrated with some of the brightest in Fargo Moorhead. It was a stinking blast.
  • Collaboration is so important. We’re proud to call ourselves members of the Prairie Den and partners with the NDSU Research & Tech Park. Through these collaborative efforts, we’ve met amazing people and fostered relationships that (we hope) are beneficial to both parties. We’ve seen new businesses form and grow and have been honored to even be part of the ride on some.
  • Dreams really do come true. It’s unreal to us the amount of cool things happening in Fargo. The people who wake up and decide to make their dream a reality. From Cooper’s Protosthetics research to Girl Develop It, from Co.Starters to Emerging Leaders, we’re thinking our future looks pretty stinking bright with these dreamers. And don’t even get us started on the kids in The Chamber’s YEA! Program.
  • It’s all about community. There are people all over this area who are building a community they want to live in (we’re looking at you Emerging Prairie). There are entrepreneurs making things happen and starting new companies. But there are also community partners coming alongside and lifting these individuals and companies up and collaborating with them to build a better place for all. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

So before this gets too mushy, we’ll just say this. You inspire us. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, for coming to parties with the numbers nerds and for genuinely caring about your community. Thank you for taking this almost 100 year old company along for the ride and helping us rewrite our story. We think you’re pretty kick ass (or butt if you prefer) too.