Business Digest (March 11, 2017)

0 picsFebruary index jumps to highest level in three yearsThe Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, an economic indicator for a nine-state region stretching from Arkansas to North Dakota, rose for February, according the lat...

February index jumps to highest level in three years

The Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, an economic indicator for a nine-state region stretching from Arkansas to North Dakota, rose for February, according the latest survey results.

The Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, climbed in February to its highest level since April 2014 to a strong 60.5 from January's 54.7. This is the third straight month that the index has advanced above growth neutral.

Employment: The February employment index remained above growth neutral. Even so, the new job or employment gauge slipped to 55.6 from January's 57.

Wholesale Prices: The wholesale inflation gauge remained in a range indicating rising inflationary pressures at the wholesale level as the prices-paid index increased to 75, its highest level since April 2014, and up from 74.2 in January.


Confidence: Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as captured by the February business confidence index, rose to 71.3 from 69.5 in January.

Inventories: The February inventory index, which tracks the change in the level of raw materials and supplies, climbed to 58 from January's much softer 50.

Trade: The regional new export orders index rose to a healthy 63.6 from 48.7 in January, and the import index climbed to 54.1 from January's 46.7.

Other components: Components of the February Business Conditions Index were new orders at 67.3, up from 56.8 in January; production or sales index was 69.7, up from January's 56.9; and delivery speed of raw materials and supplies fell to 51.9 from last month's 53.1.

The Creighton Economic Forecasting Group has conducted the monthly survey of supply managers in nine states since 1994 to produce leading economic indicators of the Mid-America economy. States included in the survey are Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Minnesota: The February Business Conditions Index for Minnesota dipped to 54.3 from 54.7 in January. Components of the overall February index from the monthly survey of supply managers were new orders at 55.4, production or sales at 67.4, delivery lead time at 50.1, inventories at 46.5 and employment at 52. Recent surveys point to positive but slow growth for the next six months with job additions of about 11,000. Leading industries: ethanol and medical equipment manufacturers. Lagging industries: vehicle parts manufacturers and agriculture equipment producers.

North Dakota: North Dakota's overall index advanced above growth neutral for two of the last three months. The index for February from a survey of supply managers rocketed to 66.8 from 49.7 in January and 51 in December. Components of the overall index were new orders at 54.7, production or sales at 71.5, delivery lead time at 53.4, employment at 62 and inventories at 81.2. Recent surveys point to soft, but positive, state growth for the next six months with job additions of about 2,800. Leading industries: oil exploration and health services. Lagging industries: durable goods manufacturing.

KPI workshop March 15


Key performance indicators, or KPIs, will be the focus of "Defining and Tracking your KPIs Breakfast Workshop" from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 15, at Avalon Events Center, 2525 9th Ave. S., Fargo.

Business coach Brian Rinke will lead the discussion designed for business owners and executives.

The seminar is part of the monthly Executive Events series organized and hosted by the Members of the100, inc., a Fargo-based business initiative founded in 2016 by Kurt McSparron. Tickets are $50 per person, which includes breakfast, and can be purchased at .

Leadership conference to be simulcast in Fargo

Leadercast, a one-day leadership conference, will be broadcast live from Atlanta and simulcast to hundreds of locations on Friday May 5. The simulcast will be hosted locally at Prairie Heights Community Church, 319 32nd Ave. E., West Fargo.

The theme of this year's conference is "Powered by Purpose." The conference will allow attendees to discover the steps they can take to uncover their purpose, to reconnect to their organization's "why," to attract and engage the right people and to thrive as a team.

For more information, visit or email .

TCI Insurance named Advantage Agent


The Farmers Alliance Cos. in McPherson, Kan., has announced that TCI Insurance in West Fargo has been named a Farmers Alliance Advantage Agent for 2017.

To qualify as an Advantage Agent, an agency must exhibit superior professionalism and profitability over five consecutive years.

ND commission awards funding grants

The North Dakota Centers of Excellence Commission recently awarded funding requests for three Research ND grants, five Phase I Venture grants and one base realignment grant at its February meeting.

The total funding request for the nine projects totaled $2.3 million.

The following Research ND requests were funded:

• North Dakota State University Computer Science in partnership with Axelo Inc. was awarded $103,458 to design and develop a low-cost, high reliability and high accuracy inertial measurement unit. These sensors will be used in unmanned aircraft systems and autonomous vehicles.

• NDSU Chemistry and Biochemistry, in partnership with 3DIcon Corp., was awarded $150,000 to improve the yield and purity of the key ingredient required for an economical synthesis of cyclohexasilane, an ingredient for making a variety of commercial silicon-based materials and materials for lightweight batteries and lightweight solar cells.


The following Phase 1 Venture Grants were funded:

• NDSU Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences was awarded $100,000 to develop an antibiotic releasing, biodegradable putty to be used as a bone void filler that will reduce infection associated with surgically or traumatically induced orthopedic defects.

• NDSU Electrical and Computer Engineering was awarded $100,000 to develop a low-cost portable embedded device to support advanced machine learning algorithms for real-time welding image processing.

• NDSU Electrical and Computer Engineering was awarded $100,000 to develop a Gallium Nitride based power converter that provides high efficiency and high power density that is more efficient than current silicon power semiconductor devices.

Women's investing seminar March 21

Veronica Redfield, founder of Retirement Resource, will host an Empowering Women Seminar at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, at the Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Ave. S., Fargo. The seminar will address investing and retirement planning with a focus on women's roles with relation to their financial future.

Redfield is the founder of Retirement Resource ND, with more than 10 years of experience in financial services.

Seating is limited. Register online at or by calling (701) 356-0570.


Innovation Challenge winners announced

Winners of the annual Innovation Challenge competition were announced at a luncheon on Feb. 28. Competition featured innovations developed by North Dakota State University

students and is presented by the NDSU Research and Technology Park.

The Agriculture Track winner was a team called "Ag Innovations." Team members invented a tool that generates simple, accurate and unbiased recommendations for farm chemical application. Members are Reed Lawrence, a senior business major from Bloomington, Minn., and Samuel Hanson, a senior crop and weed science major from Benson, Minn.

The Product Track winner was a team called "Radio Frequency Pacemaker," which developed a wireless and battery-less pacemaker that can be implanted directly into the heart. The student innovator was Sajid Asif, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering who lives in Fargo.

The Service Track winner was a team called "Single Cell Diagnosis," which developed a method of detecting pancreatic cancer cells in a single drop of blood. Team members are James Froberg, a graduate student in physics, and Fataneh Karandish, a graduate student in pharmaceutical science.

The Social Track winner was a team called "NDSU Makerspace," which is working on creating a makerspace on campus that will allow students from all majors to meet and create together, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. Team members are Theodore Zipoy, a sophomore industrial engineering major from Kimball, Minn., and Kyle Stapleton, a senior electrical engineering major from Hastings, Minn.

Winners in each of the four tracks - agriculture, product, service and social innovation - receive $5,000, second-place teams receive $1,000 and third-place teams receive $500. There is also a People's Choice Award of $1,000.


NDSU newspaper awarded at conference

The Spectrum, the student-run publication of North Dakota State University, recently won two awards at the annual Associated Collegiate Press midwinter conference.

The newspaper placed first in the special edition category and third in the website (large school) category.

The Spectrum's staff published its sex and romance special edition the Monday before Valentine's Day, and serves as the publication's website.

The paper placed fourth for website (large school), fifth for special edition and eighth in Best of Show for a four-year weekly.

Healthy Food Ingredients gains verifications

Healthy Food Ingredients of Fargo has added several new products to its portfolio of Non-GMO Project Verified ingredients.

One, Suntava Purple Corn, is now Non-GMO Project Verified in processed forms of flour, meal and grits, available as both organic and non-GMO.

The newly-verified purple corn ingredients add to the already-verified whole purple corn under the Suntava brand. SK Food International and Hesco/Dakota Organic Products, other brands within HFI, also maintain Non-GMO Project Verification for soybeans and soybean products, grains and oils.

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