Business Buzz: Local impact of tech lay-offs unclear, Brewhalla one step closer to opening date

Check out our roundup of business news and updates.

Microsoft in south Fargo is seen on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

FARGO — Both Microsoft and Amazon recently unveiled plans to reduce their workforce. As to whether or not those decisions impacted employees locally, the answer is unclear.

On Wednesday, Jan. 18, Microsoft revealed via a filing with the Securities Exchange Commission as well as an employee memo that it plans to reduce its employee head-count by 10,000 through the end of the third quarter of the 2023 fiscal year. That news followed word that Amazon would cut 18,000 employees, a move which company CEO Andy Jassy formally revealed two weeks prior.

Microsoft has an expansive campus facing Interstate 29 in Fargo. Amazon operates a fulfillment center north of Hector International Airport as well as a delivery station along Main Avenue in West Fargo.

When asked by The Forum whether or not lay-offs had impacted Microsoft employees in Fargo, both local site leader Jenny Olson and a national spokesperson representing the company referred to the employee memo. When pressed for further details, the national spokesperson wrote that Microsoft “has nothing further to share.”

In the employee memo, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote that the decision to reduce staff was influenced by advancements in technology such as artificial intelligence as well as the economic downturn being experienced across the world.


“First, as we saw customers accelerate their digital spend during the pandemic, we’re now seeing them optimize their digital spend to do more with less. We’re also seeing organizations in every industry and geography exercise caution as some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating one. At the same time, the next major wave of computing is being born with advances in AI, as we’re turning the world’s most advanced models into a new computing platform,” Nadella wrote.

Nadella noted that the cuts represented 5% of the company’s “total employee base,” adding that employees are continuing to be hired in other areas. In total, Nadella said the costs related to the reduction in staff would be $1.2 billion for the company. A subsequent earnings report published Tuesday, Jan. 24, listed severance costs alone to be $800 million. “These are the kinds of hard choices we have made throughout our 47-year history to remain a consequential company in this industry that is unforgiving to anyone who doesn’t adapt to platform shifts,” he wrote.

For Amazon, Jassy’s memo stated that employee reductions would total “just over 18,000 roles,” primarily in the Amazon Stores and the company’s People, Experience and Technology divisions.

Like Nadella’s, Jassy’s memo pointed to economic factors as a reason for the reduction in employees. “Amazon has weathered uncertain and difficult economies in the past, and we will continue to do so. These changes will help us pursue our long-term opportunities with a stronger cost structure; however, I’m also optimistic that we’ll be inventive, resourceful and scrappy in this time when we’re not hiring expansively and eliminating some roles,” Jassy wrote.

The Forum reached out to an Amazon spokesperson to ask whether or not local employees were affected by the lay-offs. A response was not received.

Drekker's Brewhalla addition inches closer to opening date

New signage at the Drekker Brewing Company addition is installed on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023.
David Samson/The Forum

Drekker's Brewhalla addition continues to inch closer to an opening date. When Forum photographer David Samson turned in a photo of new signage going up Monday, Jan. 23, we reached out to Drekker President and Co-founder Mark Bjornstad for an update.

"We were so excited to get those signs up," Bjornstad wrote via email. "The building is really coming together now that we’re down to finishing touches and art installation on the inside and planning for a public opening very soon."

Brewhalla is a massive expansion to Drekker Brewing Company’s complex at 1666 1st Ave. N. in Fargo. The project checks in at 100,000-square-feet and carries a $20 million price tag. It will feature a hotel, apartments, an events center and marketplace. Brewhalla will house several other businesses as well, including Blackbird Woodfire, Nichole’s Fine Pastry and Cafe, Unglued, Mangata Wine and Raw Bar, Unicorn Park Fine Foodery and Luna Market . It’s been described as a “magic factory” for vendors.

Angie Wieck is the business editor for The Forum. Email her at
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