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Chinese visit gives Fergus campus a boost

A visit from a Chinese delegation this week is a strong step toward launching a new college in Fergus Falls, Minn., and saving a historical landmark, an organizer says.

A visit from a Chinese delegation this week is a strong step toward launching a new college in Fergus Falls, Minn., and saving a historical landmark, an organizer says.

Today, 10 government and university officials from the Hunan Province in China will tour the Regional Treatment Center, which area developers want to turn into a Chinese language and business institute. Rick Anderson, president of Campus Development Group that is behind the proposal, has twice visited China to meet with officials and investors.

"There is definite interest," Anderson said. "We're continuing our talks to the point where they're curious and they want to see the facility."

The group will also visit other campuses in Fergus Falls and Fargo-Moorhead.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College is working on a partnership to recruit Chinese nursing students to the Fergus Falls campus starting in January, said Provost Anna Wasescha.


The Chinese delegation will tour the nursing labs and the campus on Thursday before making stops at North Dakota State University and Concordia College.

Campus Development Group, a limited liability partnership that includes Anderson, a Fergus Falls businessman, and Fargoans Jeff Schlossman and Doug Burgum, plans to submit to the city a business plan in about a month, Anderson said.

Their goal is to establish the Minnesota Institute for Cross-Cultural Studies, a private nonprofit college that could serve up to 1,000 students from China and the United States with a focus on language immersion and business studies.

The goal is for seven Minnesota and North Dakota colleges and at least seven Chinese universities to partner on the initiative, Anderson said.

The group has submitted a nonbinding letter of intent to acquire the Kirkbride building, which is the centerpiece of the property that formerly was the Fergus Falls State Hospital.

If the group doesn't acquire the property by Dec. 31, the city will proceed with demolition using state money set aside for that purpose, said city administrator Marv Sievert.

Harold Stanislowski, Fergus Falls economic development director, is optimistic the new college will become a reality.

"A project like this is a marathon," Stanislowski said. "It's going to take time to work everything through.


"People have to do their due diligence from a number of different sides."

An accountant is working to provide Campus Development Group by June 15 an estimate of how much money it needs to raise, Anderson said.

Contractors have given estimates, but Anderson said it would be premature to comment on that until he has the complete information.

"We are still pulling numbers together to arrive at that bottom line number," he said.

Investors could include partner colleges in the United States and China as well as the Campus Development Group, Anderson said.

Stanislowski said the visit from the Chinese delegation could be the start of a project that has a significant impact.

"This is historic," he said. "This goes down in the history books as something that's very, very important for our region."

Key players


- Campus Development Group, formerly Institute Acquisition Partners

- Rick Anderson, owner of The Midweek in Fergus Falls

- Doug Burgum, Hawthorne Development in Fargo

- Jeff Schlossman, Goldmark Schlossman Real Estate in Fargo

- Lili Pan, a business consultant in China

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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