FARGO — The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce rolled out a new workforce initiative for the metro area and formally named Mark Nisbet as its annual Legacy Leader award recipient Tuesday, Oct. 12, at the Delta by Marriott.

The Chamber's new workforce initiative, Ignite FMWF, is a comprehensive digital platform that Chamber CEO Shannon Full said would help address the region's top problem: talent attraction and retention.

Chamber Vice President of Workforce and Talent Mason Rademacher heralded Ignite FMWF as a "transformational" platform to link job seekers and employers.

The platform, which launched at IgniteFMWF.com Tuesday afternoon, is an all-encompassing place for recruitment, skill-building and career navigation, he said. It includes 1,200 video career cards where job seekers can learn more about a given career, a live job board and a training and education library with over 200 courses.

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The platform was initially financed by the Chamber's Fueling our Futures committee and receives ongoing funding through private and public partnerships, Full said. In an effort to make the site as accessible as possible, it's available at no cost to job seekers and employers, she said.

“We were very intentional about the design of this," she said. "This is for the community, which means it’s open for anybody. Anyone can go on and create a profile."

Taya Spelhaug, the North Dakota TechSpark Manager for Microsoft Philanthropies, said Ignite FMWF will help bring all elements of the job search landscape into one place.

“It is really a catalyst to collaboration," she said. "It is going to bring education, businesses, job seekers and nonprofits together to solve the workforce shortage in our region."

Corey Steiner, the Superintendent of Northern Cass Public Schools, expressed optimism that the platform would be beneficial beyond the metro area as well. He said students in rural areas were previously hamstrung by the distance between them and larger cities. Ignite FMWF, he said, would help bridge that gap.

“We’re no longer left out of the conversation," he added. "We are now sitting at the table."

According to Denise Jonas, Cass County's Career and Technical Education Director, Ignite FMWF will give students and job seekers in the region a greater opportunity to explore and research various job openings right in their area. “I think this is the game-changer," she said.

Full envisioned Ignite FMWF would eventually be rolled out across North Dakota and Minnesota, bringing the region under the umbrella of one platform.

"We're looking at opportunities to continue to expand it throughout Minnesota and throughout the state of North Dakota," she said. "Our ideal goal is to get it so our entire state or our entire region is using one systematic approach."

Shannon Full, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce speaks during the celebration Tuesday, Oct. 12 at the Delta by Marriott, Fargo.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Shannon Full, president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce speaks during the celebration Tuesday, Oct. 12 at the Delta by Marriott, Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Nisbet named Legacy Leader

A nearly 40-year veteran of Xcel Energy, Nisbet retired earlier this year from his post as Principal Manager for North Dakota. His time with Xcel Energy began in 1981, building and upgrading substations throughout the Red River Valley.

Nisbet was later promoted to Customer Business Officer and also worked as the North Dakota leader for Customer Operations, Statewide Training Coordinator and Minot General Manager throughout his time with the company. Nisbet served as the Principal Manager for North Dakota for 18 years. Xcel Energy announced Dec. 3, 2020, that Tony Grindberg would take over Nisbet's position.

Nisbet, who gave brief remarks at the end of the celebration, said he was thrilled to find out he was a recipient of the Legacy Leader award.

"This is a huge treat for me. I couldn't ask for anything more," he said. "I am truly blown away by it."

West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis called Nisbet a constant presence in the community across the state.

"I had business locations in Minot, Grand Forks and Bismarck," he said. "If I went to a Chamber event in Minot or a Boy Scouts luncheon in Grand Forks or I went to whatever, Mark was there."

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., credited Nisbet's tenure on the EmPower North Dakota commission as well, adding Nisbet was well-deserving of the award.

"I can’t think of anyone more fitting," Hoeven remarked.

Speaking to Nisbet's ubiquitous presence across the state, North Dakota State Sen. Judy Lee of West Fargo called Nisbet an instrumental component of several positive developments statewide.

"He's a builder, but he's not looking to put his name on the building. If you look down at the foundation, he is a rock-solid part of it," Lee said in a recorded video tribute to Nisbet. "He should smile and look around at how many places he has a legacy here because they're all over the state."

Nisbet, who said he took pride in keeping Xcel Energy's customers' bills below the rate of inflation and "well below the national average," said the state is in a good position going forward with Grindberg in charge.

"I think we're leaving the community in good hands," he said.

Nisbet is the 18th recipient of the Chamber's Legacy Leader award. Past recipients include:

  • William C. Marcil Sr. (2007)

  • Frederick B. Scheel (2008)

  • Edward Stern (2008)

  • Dr. Ronald Dille (2009)

  • James R. McLaughlin (2009)

  • John Q. Paulsen (2010)

  • Ronald D. Offutt (2011)

  • Bruce Furness (2012)

  • Margie Bailly (2013)

  • Alexander Macdonald and Darrol Schroeder (2014)

  • Morrie Lanning (2015)
  • Roger Gilbertson (2016)
  • Bernie Dardis (2017)
  • Judy Lee (2018)
  • Steve Swiontek (2019)
  • Steve D. Scheel (2020)

Readers can reach InForum reporter Thomas Evanella at tevanella@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella