Greater Fergus Falls (GFF) is a non-profit economic development organization that serves Fergus Falls and a 25-mile service area. Under the direction of a diverse 16-person Board of Directors, GFF provides a range of economic development services to grow our local and regional economy.
GFF's four primary goals are business development and attraction, marketing and promotion, partnerships, and organizational sustainability. GFF prioritizes business development and attraction of new business to our community through a comprehensive list of available sites, technical assistance, workforce development efforts and streamlining the development process (eliminating barriers). Secondly, GFF streamlines messaging to proactively promote Fergus Falls to businesses, realtors, developers, and investors. Thirdly, GFF leverages partnerships to maximize impact; and lastly, GFF works to build processes, procedures, and relationships to ensure organizational sustainability.
In 2020, GFF staff met with over 200 existing businesses with several interested in expanding. In that same time frame, GFF assisted over 20 new start-ups in opening their doors. These businesses ranged from a pop-up boutique candy shop to a medical spa, the likes of which our community has never had. In March 2020 we launched our Entrepreneur Initiative and have since provided 1:1 consulting services to over 40 new and early stage entrepreneurs, further affirming a growing appetite for entrepreneurship in this community.
With record low unemployment rates through Q1 20, our community has had a high number of job vacancies, so strengthening the existing workforce was made a priority. To that end, we established a 7-week series devoted to workforce training in early 2020. This ranged from teaching employers how to leverage workforce training grant programs to specific skilled workforce topics. This training series was hosted jointly with M State Community & Technical College and served 100 + attendees. This series was well-attended by a diverse range of business owners, HR professionals and community leaders from within and around the FF community.
Lastly, the community has had numerous non-profit and other civic organizations dedicated to providing, on various levels, community and economic development. To increase efficiency and reduce confusion, GFF has strengthened partnerships with the City, Port Authority, Chamber of Commerce, and others to maximize outreach and avoid duplication of efforts. We established new partnerships with M State, the Fergus Falls Downtown Riverfront Council, Otter Tail County, the Kennedy Public School system, and several others. The fact that all of these organizations are collaborating for the betterment of the community has instilled a renewed willingness to re-invest, speaks volumes about our ability to lead.