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Six-month comprehensive F-M area workforce study kicks off Nov. 1

MOORHEAD – An Austin, Texas-based firm will conduct a six-month study of Fargo-Moorhead-area’s workforce, with hopes of finding a solution to the region’s hiring woes.

The comprehensive workforce analysis will be the largest ever done locally or in North Dakota, said Jim Gartin, president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp.

TIP Strategies of Austin will study labor market characteristics, survey employers and look at the region’s top occupations, skills and demographics before delivering a final report, which will include creating sector teams that can act on recommendations.

TIP Strategies was selected from nine national consulting firms that submitted proposals.

The study starts Nov. 1.

The area’s workforce shortage has been a hot topic of discussion. Gartin said the lack of available, skilled workers has been an issue for 90 percent of the 200 businesses his organization has visited.

“A lot of times we talk about it, but we don’t know what the answers are,” Gartin said. “We don’t know what the questions are sometimes.

“If we don’t answer those questions, we’re not going to be able to sustain … to maintain our growth,” he added.

Figures from North Dakota Job Service show more than three available jobs for every job seeker in Cass County. The unemployment rate in Fargo’s metropolitan area was 2.4 percent in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationwide, the unemployment rate was 8.9 percent.

The EDC is one of five organizations collaborating to conduct the study, which is expected to cost $150,000. It’s being sponsored by a number of local employers.

Other groups in the partnership are the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Cass-Clay, the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the FM Area Foundation.

Tim Beaton, executive director of the FM Area Foundation, said attracting and retaining workers goes beyond just hiring and bringing people into the community.

“There’s day care, there’s housing, there’s the impact on human services, the need for education. … There’s some softer issues that go along with this,” Beaton said.

Gartin stressed the importance of businesses providing data for the study.

“This report will only be as good as the information,” he said.

Results are expected by May 1.

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor

Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556

Sherri Richards

Sherri Richards has worked for The Forum since 2002. She is the features and business editor, overseeing Variety, SheSays, Farmers' Forum, the daily Business pages and Saturday Business section.     Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

(701) 241-5556