Fargo series debut piquing interest in the real Fargo story

There’s a new cable series based on the movie coming out on Tuesday (Fargo on FX channel). It likely won’t represent much of what really goes on here, but it does create awareness.

 Forbes Joel Kotkin sure likes Fargo, and says we’ve had incredible change in 10 years. He’s right. 10 years ago a majority of young people looked to move to other cities to build their lives. In a 180 degree turnaround, now according to Fargo Public School student surveys, over 65% want to stay and be engaged in our community, with another 10% wanting to stay in the region.

Fun events like “Chalk Fest”, “Streets Alive!”, and Fargo Marathon are just a few of many reasons why Fargo’s become a more fun and interesting community where people want to live, work, learn and play.

 

There’s a new cable series based on the movie coming out on Tuesday (Fargo on FX channel). It likely won’t represent much of what really goes on here, but it does create awareness. 

The upside is, the national awareness provides an opportunity to show folks how good we can really be. The way we grow matters, over the years more people, especially young people, are realizing that a strong downtown with strong walkable core neighborhoods provide a lot of value and a more interesting place to live, work, learn, and play.

Good stuff!

 

Below is an excerpt of Joel Kotkin’s recent article in Forbes Magazine:

Starting Tuesday, the coastal crowd will get another opportunity to laugh at the zany practices of those living in the frozen reaches of the Great Plains. The new television series “Fargo,” based on the 1996 Coen brothers movie, will no doubt be filled with fearsome violence mixed with the proper amount of Scandinavian reserve and wry humor — the very formula that made the original such as hit.

Yet how much will “Fargo” the series resemble the real places? Probably not much. For one thing the series only uses Fargo as a kind of marker; the action actually takes place in Bemidji, Minn., a small town of 12,000 over two hours away. I know distances are seen differently in the northern Plains, but the whole idea seems a bit of a stretch. Located in forest and lake country, many locals would not even consider the Minnesota town part of the Plains.

Less known to the sophistos who will watch the show is that Fargo, a metro area with over 200,000 people, and the state of North Dakota have been enjoying a sustained boom for a decade. This resurgence — in demographics, economics and real estate — follows decades of relative decline and an almost sullen sense of isolation that drove many people out of the state.

In a state where the unofficial motto seems to be “it could be worse” — not a bad notion given the often miserable weather — things couldn’t be much better. North Dakota leads the nation in virtually every indicator of prosperity: the lowest unemployment rate, and the highest rates of net in-migration, income growth and job creation. Last year North Dakota wagesrose a remarkable 8.9%, twice as much as Utah and Texas, which shared honors for second place, and many times the 1% rise experienced nationwide.

The once dreary predictions of demographic decline — epitomized by the proposal two New Jersey academics to turn the area into a “Buffalo Commons” — have been reversed. North Dakota now lures many college graduates from out of state and keeps more of its own as well. Today more than half of North Dakotans aged 25-44 have post-secondary degrees, among the highest percentages in the nation, and well above the roughly 40% number for the rest of the country.

Many will ascribe the state’s rise primarily to the energy boom. To be sure thefastest growth in North Dakota and other Plains states has been in the areas closest to the oil and gas finds. But over the past decade, the population of the Plains has expanded by 14%, well above the national average and far faster than the Midwest, the Northeast or California.

This Plains resurgence is taking place even in areas far from energy development. Fargo, for example, is six hours hard driving from Williston, the center of the Bakken range. Yet despite this the area’s population has been growing, up 20% in the last decade, twice the national average. Since 2010, over 8,000 more people have come to the Fargo metro area, which extends to the Minnesota city of Moorhead, than have left. In fact, the small cities of the Dakotas have been growing faster than the nation for well more than a decade, before the recent energy boom took off.

The growth in Fargo has come not so much from energy, but an expanding industrial and technology sector. STEM employment is up nearly 40% since 2001, compared to 3% nationally. It also leads all other U.S. metro areas in the growth in the number of mid-skilled jobs, providing good wages to people with two-year or certificate degrees. Between 2009 and 2011, mid-skilled employment grew 5%, roughly 10 times the national average. No surprise then that the population with BAs in Fargo has grown 50% in the last decade, well above the 40% rate for the rest of the country.

Yet perhaps nothing illustrates the dramatic changes in Fargo better than its downtown area. Twenty years ago, when I first visited the city, downtown was torpid on a good day. Storefronts were old, funky and often empty. The local hotels ranged between acceptable to sorry.

~End Excerpt~

 

Avatar of Mike Williams

About Mike Williams

Name: Mike Williams Location: Fargo, North Dakota Website: http://www.electwilliams.com Occupation: Risk Manager Family Mutual Insurance Fargo City Commissioner since 2004, re-elected in 2008 and 2012 About Me: I'm a pragmatic optimist that's grateful for all the wonderful people in my life
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