click here for Attorneys in Fargo

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fargo Media: A Brave New Marketing World? Even in Fargo ND

If you have ever considered contacting an advertising agency for advice on how to market your business, I would suggest picking up phone and making that call. Now, more than ever, small businesses are going to need additional help cultivating new business and prospective customers. The world of data mining combined with our government forcing capitalism across the globe, or globalization, is beginning to have a detrimental impact on small business all over the United States.

Consider the new complex and sophisticated software Google introduced recently. How this new software works is it automatically activates the “built-in microphone and recording devices that come standard in every computer” in order to “listen and record ambient sounds in your home.” What this means, besides validating the writings in George Orwells’ novel 1984, is your computer will record and data mine anything happening in your home. If a dog barks or a baby cries, your household’s name will be added to a list to receive spam, junk mail, personalize web advertisement and possibly telemarketing. How this new marketing software works is really quite amazing when you consider all the information and consumer habits it retrieves for big corporations.

In fact, this new software is so intelligent it is currently being discussed to replacing the Radio Arbitron rating system and television’s Neilsen ratings. This is the new wave of marketing and big corporations will now have a distinct advantage in local, regional, national and global markets.

Now I do want to point out that Google is not using humans to listen to your habits and personal life, but instead, computers. The system hears key words or sounds, or “captured audio,” and compresses them into five-second snippets called “digital fingerprints” which then searches an Internet server for a matching fingerprint from a pre-recorded show, and if it matches, display ads, chat rooms with your college friends or other information will appear related to that five second snippit. For example, if you are watching the Jon Stewart Show and Tom Hanks is the guest, you will receive information on where to buy the shirt Hanks is wearing during the interview. The software is so precise, it will give you locations of places to purchase the shirt in your zip code. This bodes well for those companies who pay to be on the list. This means large company’s like Marshall Field’s will have a direct and customized advertisement to a viewer, whereas Straus and A.K.A. will have to wait for the potential customer to purchase The Forum or see their general branding commerical.

There are two more companies now that are claiming their software is better than Google’s to detect our detailed psychological algorithms. This type of habitual marketing has just entered a new era for those who love to track their current and potential consumers. Couple this with major grocery’s “loyalty” cards or any purchase made on your credit card, which also track everything you purchase, and the playing field for small businesses just got even more difficult.

Fargo Web and Design

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

In Focus Fargo: The Absolute Truth: www. Choosing The Right Domain Name For Your Business .com

If you are going to take your business identity online, whether in the form of setting up email accounts or developing a Web site, you will need to choose a domain name. If you make good use of your on-line presence, your domain name will become as important of an identifier of your business as the name of your business.

Most business owners usually think as the first option when choosing a domain name. In many instances this is probably the best decision, especially if you are able to register the domain spelled exactly as your business name. In some instances the domain may not be available. In other instances your business name might not translate to an easy-to-remember and easy-to-read domain name.

Once you choose a domain name, more than likely it will be with your business for a long time to come. It will be printed on business cards and other marketing materials, and may be listed in directories and phone books. It will become difficult to change your domain name if you are actively pushing an on-line presence. You will want to make sure you make the right choice.

Even if your domain name choice seems like a no-brainer, you should consider the following:

¥ Your domain name does not necessarily have to be your business name. It could contain words that are related to the services you offer. Just as an example, let's say your business name is Super Duper Propeller Hat Company of Fargo-Moorhead. One of the first options to come to your head for a domain name might be That would make for some long e-mail addresses and people would probably spell it wrong often. A better domain name option, if available, might be or
¥ Will your domain name be easy to spell? Will potential clients and customers be able to spell it out just by hearing the domain name? Will you be able to convey your domain name over-the-phone or by talking to somebody without having to spell out each letter several times?
¥ Is your domain name concise and to the point? Can you enunciate and pronounce your domain clearly? Will the process of typing your domain or trying to remember how to spell your domain frustrate and confuse potential customers and clients?

Once you have decided on a domain name, test it out by asking colleagues and friends for input on your choice. Your test audience might have a certain reaction to the name that will give you an idea of how clients will react to your domain. If you don't consistently get confused responses to a domain name, you've probably got a winner!

Luke Petterson is the interactive director for Absolute Marketing Group located in Moorhead, MN
Fargo Websites Built Here

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fargo Media: North Dakota 9th Largest Oil Producer In Nation.

Fargo, ND - In 2006, North Dakota ranked 9th in crude oil production out of 31 oil-producing states and two federal offshore areas. North Dakota produces an average of 109,000 barrels of oil per day.

This month's "Economic Brief," a monthly publication from the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University, focuses on crude oil production in North Dakota and the nation.

North Dakota's total oil production in 2006, approximately 40 million barrels, was 2.1 percent of the nation's total production. Texas, Alaska and California, the top states in U.S. crude oil production, captured nearly half of the total production in the country (46.9 percent or 879 million barrels).

Nationally, 1.9 billion barrels of oil were produced in 2006, a 0.8 percent decline from 2005. On average, production nationwide has declined 2.7 percent per year since 1986.

North Dakota's oil production increased sharply in the late 1970s and peaked in 1984 at just less than 53 million barrels. Production declined throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s. After a small rise in the mid-1990s, production slowed again. Production dropped to 29 million barrels by 2003.

In 2004, production increased 5.9 percent to 31 million barrels. In 2005, production increased another 14.5 percent to 36 million barrels. Production rose 12 percent to 39.9 million barrels in 2006.

"The sharp rise in current production is in reaction to the dramatic price increases we have witnessed during the past five years," says Richard Rathge, State Data Center director.

Sixteen of North Dakota's 53 counties produced crude oil in 2006. Bowman County was the largest crude oil producer in 2006 (16.7 million barrels), followed by McKenzie (5.6 million barrels), Billings (4.7 million barrels), Williams (3.7 million barrels), Bottineau (2.1 million barrels) and Stark (1.9 million barrels). An additional 10 North Dakota counties produced the remaining 5.3 million barrels of the state's crude oil.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Helping Families Look to the Future with Hope In Fargo Moorhead

Funerals help to recognize the fact that a death has occurred and provide a setting for family and friends to face the reality of death—the first big step towards working though grief. Funerals also bring family and friends together to support each other during a very difficult time.

Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, Fargo, is owned and operated by third generation funeral director John Runsvold and has provided funeral arrangements in our community since 1920. John’s great grandfather was instrumental in the beginning of the business and John’s grandfather Joseph became an owner and mortician. Then, just as John’s father James was graduating from Concordia College with an English degree, he also decided to become a funeral director.

The next generation of family funeral directors came in to existence when John was born in 1953. He graduated from Fargo North High School in 1971. After attending NDSU for two years and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, John graduated with a B.S. degree in Mortuary Science in 1975.

John joined his grandfather, Joseph, his father, James, and partner, Neal Bradburn, at Hanson-Runsvold as the third generation funeral director. John and his wife, Cydney, have owned the funeral home since 1982.

John is active in community affairs, including past president of Fargo-Moorhead Sertoma Service Club, Past Master of East Gate Masonic Lodge, past SE District Governor and Past President of the North Dakota Funeral Directors Association. He served on the Audit Committee of the National Funeral Directors Association, is Past President of the First Lutheran Church Foundation, Past Chairman of the First Lutheran Church Television Committee and Past President of Hospice of the Red River Valley.

John is currently President of the North Dakota State Board of Funeral Service. He was elected to serve as vice president on the Executive Committee and as District 6 Governor of the Board of Directors for the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards. John also serves as a member of the Exam Committee that writes the National Board Exam for Funeral Service and sits on the By-Laws Committee and the Curriculum Review Committee for the American Board of Funeral Service Education, which accredits the schools of Mortuary Science.

John has always worked at a funeral home. He started working at the family’s business when he was eight years old pulling weeds and picking up garbage. A little older, he started to mow the grass surrounding the business and washing cars. By 10th grade he knew that he wanted to work in the family business as a funeral director.

John had an early interest in psychology and sociology that followed him through college, since it is an important part of Mortuary Science studies. Years later, his interest and expertise in this area has helped him deal compassionately and kindly with people’s emotions during the highly emotional time of grieving.

John said that his profession is actually uplifting and not depressing as people expect it would be. Being a funeral director is a helping profession and John mentioned that it is uplifting to help people get through the initial shock of a loved one’s death. John works to put himself in the family’s shoes during the difficult time of a member’s death and guide them through the many decisions that need to be made.

It used to be that the funeral home business was usually a family business. John said that is not the case now. Other changes within the profession include people becoming funeral directors as they embark on a second career to do something more meaningful. And today, more women are going in to the profession. In fact, more women now are in Mortuary Science university programs than men.

John stressed that his profession is not just a job that he does. The word vocation comes to mind realizing the inclination, abilities and complete commitment that it takes to work in this profession. It is intense and John is linked to his business 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The biggest adjustment has been for John’s wife and three children. Sacrifices need to be made by family since weekends, evenings and holidays are not exclusive when you are needed by someone during a crisis.

A typical day for John can include funeral pre-planning meetings with people, meeting with families to decide on arrangements for an immediate death that has occurred, and working at funerals and memorial services. John said that he does not care for the business end of the funeral home’s operations and has an office staff to help with business functions.

John keeps learning about his field through continuing education classes and attending conventions. His active participation in The Pursuit of Excellence program of the National Funeral Directors Association encourages the exchange of ideas between directors throughout the country.

John is committed to business excellence and his favorite saying is, “Any job worth doing is worth doing it right.” John believes in leading by example and asking the question ‘what can we do better?’ He is more interested in improving his business than in expansion. It is clear that John is doing what he loves. After 32 years of working as a funeral director he said that he still enjoys coming to work every morning.

Every day at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home, John and his staff are assisting and guiding people through all matters concerning death, the funeral and burial of a loved one. Every day John is helping families look to the future with hope.

Smart Growth In Fargo Moorhead

More than ever before the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation (GFMEDC) is enthusiastic about the opportunities our community of Cass and Clay Counties is facing. Unlike most communities, Greater Fargo Moorhead has the opportunity to proactively define its place in the global economy, and we are taking advantage of it.

The GFMEDC and a number of community leaders have developed a Growth Plan that focuses strategic investments in areas that are vitally important to our ability to compete for the types of businesses and jobs that will be driving growth in the future. These areas include Centers for the Advancement of Emerging Technology, entrepreneurial infrastructure, telecommunications, air service, and K-12 STEM education. Greater Fargo Moorhead now has the opportunity to compete on a global playing field instead of the regional one we have traditionally inhabited. Doing so means stepping up the level of investment we are willing to make in the future of our community.

The GFMEDC is a public-private partnership funded by both taxpayer dollars and private investment. About forty-five percent of our funding is provided by city and county investment, while about fifty-five percent is provided by investments from community businesses. This funding goes to cover the organization’s operating expenses, business retention and expansion program, workforce recruitment efforts, marketing, and various economic development projects.

Every four years the GFMEDC asks the business community to step up to the table and invest in the growth and prosperity of Greater Fargo Moorhead. Our investor base is largely comprised of those companies for which growth in the community is paramount to their success – banks, healthcare institutions, construction, and real estate, for example. Our investors recognize the importance of economic development strategies in bringing new folks to our community for quality jobs, and keeping those who are already here, here.

Like all investments, these businesses would not keep supporting the GFMEDC if they did not feel it was worth their investment. That’s why our organization takes accountability very seriously. Whether it is increases in population, personal income, taxable sales or housing starts, it is the tangible results and responsibility to the regional economy that guides our strategy and holds us accountable to our investors.

The GFMEDC has just embarked on its 2008-2011 campaign, the Smart Growth Initiative. The name signifies our focus on intelligent, progressive growth in Greater Fargo Moorhead; not just growth for growth’s sake, but growth that will make the community a better place to work and do business. Smart growth translates into a new strategy of measuring the success of our organization. In the past, we measured our progress solely on the creation of new jobs; if 1,000 new primary sector jobs were created each year, regardless of wage or skill level, we considered our job well done. Today, we recognize that the new job metric is not the most accurate way to measure smart growth. Instead, we have developed a number of new metrics, all of which center on quality, not quantity, that will allow us to better position Greater Fargo Moorhead for the national and global players that we are competing against.

Our goal for the Smart Growth Initiative is two-fold; we want to raise $3.2 million dollars from private sector investment, and we want to increase our investor base by an additional $1 million. If that means doubling our investor base of 153 companies, we are ready and enthusiastic for the challenge. The GFMEDC has hired Michael D. Gustafson as its campaign consultant to lead the charge for new investment. Michael is working hard to recruit volunteers to help spread the word about the GFMEDC’s vision for the future and the importance of investing in that future. If you or anyone from your firm are interested in reviewing a list of businesses in Cass and Clay Counties, or assisting Michael in calling on businesses, please contact him at or 701.238.2785.

On behalf of the GFMEDC board and staff I sincerely thank all of our public and private sector contributors for their commitment and support. We are looking forward to continuing to pursue smart growth for every citizen of Cass and Clay Counties.

Walters is the president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. He can be reached at 701.364.1900 or

Riske Business August 2007

For the past 18 months, we’ve been talking about the bull market in commodities.  During that time we’ve seen resource stocks exploding in a secular bull market that still has years left to run.
How do we know there are years left in this commodities bull market? Because the DOW is still getting all the headlines.  The bull market in commodities will be cresting when you see a headline like this:  “Gold, Tin, Oil and Cotton All Record a New Record High for the 7th Week in a Row.”   Another headline might say, “Canadian and Brazilian Currencies Jump to Another Record Against the U.S. Dollar. “
Will the U.S. dollar remain the world’s reserve currency?
The Founders of these great United States did their best to maintain the value of the U.S. dollar by backing it with gold and silver as mandated by Constitutional law.  Madison, Jefferson, et. al., knew that gold and silver specie would prevent lopsided trade balances and expensive protracted wars. Meanwhile, the average U.S. citizen could trust the value of the dollar enough to buy a 100-year bond at 3 percent and know that when it matured it would buy the same quantity of goods.  Since the formation of the so-called Federal Reserve Bank, however, the United States government has taken to borrowing and printing excessive amounts of money until today a one-scoop ice cream cone costs as much as $3 instead of a nickel.
How do we protect ourselves against this Federal  onslaught upon the value of our homeland’s currency? There are several ways, none of which are “investor friendly” to our own country.  And just like the patrician who refuses to shop at Wal-Mart until his house payment gets too big, we will all eventually decide to abandon the falling dollar in favor of investments that allow us to continue to meet our obligations.
Americans already sense that something is wrong.  They’ve embarked on what is coming to be known as a “crack-up boom,” the flogging of a very tired bull market in the DOW to grand new heights, in spite of the fact that there has not been more than a 10 percent correction for a very long time, and that dividend payouts are at record lows.  This is America running from a declining dollar value to an asset that produces something, not unlike what is happening in Zimbabwe, which has an inflation rate exceeding 1,000 percent.  In spite of this horribly mismanaged economy, Zimbabwe has a stock market that is surging in nominal value but is declining in relation to gold.  Same here, only our most recent inflation began in 2001 at the advent of the misnamed “War on Terror.”  Look at the graph called $CCI in this article to see just how inflation has raged in the United States.  If your vehicle has a 40-gallon tank, you spent $35.60 to fill it in 1999.  Today, that same tank costs $127.60 to fill.
If you have been invested in the DOW since the year 2000, you have lost 16 percent of your purchasing power even though the financial press is telling you the DOW has achieved new heights.  The once-mighty U.S. dollar has lost 32 percent of its purchasing power since 2000.  That’s how the inflation game works; no bureaucrat wants to give up his job for a balanced budget, no Congressman wants to come home without scoring significant dollars for his district, and no President wants to preside over a recession, so the spending, borrowing and inflating will go on.  In the meantime, Bernanke and Paulson will continue to assure you that they are containing inflation while they are the ones who are helping to create inflation.  This is the sorrowful game we are forced to play.
So what is a patriotic investor to do? For one who is concerned with the viability and vigor of his homeland’s economy, we must protect our nest egg so that when the inflationary onslaught subsides we have savings left with which to rebuild our country.  If we don’t -- and the Chinese safeguard their wealth while we don’t -- then the Chinese will be rebuilding our country’s economy.  So, let’s get into the specific investments that will protect our estate at a minimum and hopefully cause our estate to build over time in real wealth.  In the future, China will not want our Wal-Mart and Home Depot trinkets, they will want to be paid in Euros, renminbi or gold and silver.
First, the U.S. dollar-based bond market has entered a bear stage, so we must reluctantly sell our U.S. long-term bonds.  Money held in U.S. currency should be held briefly in U.S. T-bill accounts only and deployed to inflation-protected investments as soon as opportunities arise.  Dollar cost averaging will be the easiest way to make investments going forward.  In other words, commit yourself to regular investing, say monthly, until you are fully invested or as you gather surplus.  Natural resource mutual funds are available in pensions and 401k’s. Ours has FNARX and FSAGX, for example.
Currently, Asian markets are trouncing all other forms of investment.  There are several individual stocks I like, such as Fanuc, Kurita, China Medical Technology (CMED), SunTec Realty, China Life (LFC) and Aluminum Corporation of China (ACH).  Be careful though, the Asian markets have gotten very frothy on the graphs.  The bull market in Asian stocks may have a long way to go, but it might be prudent to wait for a correction.  Depends on how much volatility you can stand.
The base metal producers have been explosive.  The easiest to buy here in the U.S. are all listed on the New York Stock Exchange:  (RTP), (AAUK), (RIO), (PCU) and (BHP).  All of these very fine foreign-based companies’ stocks are held in all extraction industry mutual funds and ETFs.
Throughout history, the masses have relied on precious metals during times of inflation.  Free enterprise capitalism has brought us a way to hold physical gold and silver without actually taking possession, namely GLD and SLV.  To play the leverage of mining stocks with the possibility of getting a dividend at the same time, consider NEM, GG, RGLD, MNG, PAAS, KGC, AEM and ABX.  If you hold individual stocks, however, beware of the possibility of bad news or bad management.  EGO declined 25 percent in one day in mid-July because it was announced that Turkey had demanded they close their Turkey-based gold mine.  To protect yourself from individual stock vulnerability, choose an ETF holding all the great miners called GDX. 
Then there’s the energy sector.  The CanRoys have been paying their generous dividends without fail for years now.  Stocks such as PGH, PVX, CNE and HTE are all available on the New York Stock Exchange.  Oil has been surprisingly strong since February and it looks as though oil wants to go over $100 per barrel.  You can buy natural gas at UNG.  Or buy a collection of the top U.S. oil and gas companies at XLE.  If you’d like to invest in the last oil frontiers of Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Algeria, Peru, Oman, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Nigeria and Chad, buy shares of Chinese oil company PTR.   PetroChina is a favorite Warren Buffet dividend play, paying twice a year at 2.6 percent with a P/E of 12.5.  Two other big Chinese oil companies are CEO and SNP, all listed on the NYSE.   SNP is an Asian refiner drilling wells off the coast of Cuba.
Some say oil plays off the price of gold.  If you’d like to track this phenomenon, go to and enter $GOLD:$WTIC.  The 60-year mean is 15 barrels of oil buys one ounce of gold.  At today’s price of around $70 per barrel, that same mean would put gold at $1,050 per ounce.   Gold has been kicking cans around the $650 mark while it digests a sudden impulsive move last year into the $700s.   Gold is a bronco so watch the charts and average in.  Remember this from Richard Russell at  “A bear market wants to bring everyone along while a bull market wants to shake everyone off.”
Finally, there are three closed end funds that invest in currencies other than the U.S. dollar.  They are FCO, GIM and FAX.  They’ve all been climbing versus the dollar, but be aware that beginning in the summer of 2006, gold began climbing in value versus all currencies.  People who are wise to The Wise Guys who wrote the U.S. Constitution know that all currencies are printed at will by governments. Countries like Japan, Vietnam and China are anxious to keep currency values low for export purposes.  Countries like the United States, Great Britain (which lost its world reserve currency status because of excessive debts from World War I) and Zimbabwe print money to fund wars, economic sanctions and trade imbalances.

Riske Business:   Last year’s defense budget for the United Kingdom was $57.8 billion, Israel $11.3 billion, Russia $24.9 billion, China $35.3 billion and the United States $560 billion.  If you think U.S. military expense will continue at this gargantuan pace, take a look at an ETF called PPA.
GDP growth of the Chinese economy for the first half of ‘07 came in at an explosive 11.9 percent. That latest gain puts China ahead of Germany’s $2.9 trillion GDP... and encroaching on Japan’s $4.4 trillion economy.  While still a far cry away from the USA’s $13.2 trillion, China is looking to be King of the Hill.

Riske began his entrepreneurial career with a waterbed store in Grand Forks in 1971 called The Walrus. Walrus Waterbeds was sold to HOM Furnature in 1984. Currently Riske is owner of Take Two Video, Take 2 Express, MJ Capelli Family Hair Salons, VidCycle and Sunseekers Tanning Salon. Riske is not a licensed financial advisor and those seeking investment advice should consult with a licensed financial advisor. To contact Riske, email 

Fargo in Focus: One Fargo company has knocked the marketing ball out of the park

When it comes to local advertising and marketing, Jim Ingstad and his team at Radio Fargo-Moorhead receive all the advertising awards this year. Their commitment to localism and creative marketing has really made a big splash in this marketplace.

Many people assume that being surrounded by creative talent and control over the airwaves would produce top-notch marketing campaigns consistently, but this year’s offering from Radio Fargo-Moorhead goes down the in the books.

The media mix purchased by Radio Fargo-Moorhead only illustrates how media companies from time to time go outside their own mediums to run an effective marketing campaign.

As a marketing consulting of nearly twenty years, it has been very enjoyable watching Radio Fargo-Moorhead’s radio stations reach individual success within their demos.

I am talking about more than just their muppet-themed television commercial with a harmonic Sesame Street jingle. More than their flamboyant billboards with spinning beanies, bobbers and giant lolly pops.

It is the level of community involvement their staff is engaged in. I have heard countless mothers not only tell me about their child singing along to the jingle, but numerous quasi-tantrums were thrown when they forgot their Bob Tattoo at day care or couldn’t wait for a Dilly Bar. The air talent has been cultivating new listeners by popping by various activities dominated by soccer moms and children with BOB 95.1 tattoos and ice cream treats. What some may consider “guerrilla marketing” others call community involvement.

Rock 102 hit a home run when a woman from Buxton, ND publicly criticized their racy billboard in the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Of course when your advertisement is targeting men aged 18-34, and hits the front page of the newspaper due to its controversial nature, it is more like hitting a grand slam for a new rock station.

Even Y-94 created some buzz with the high school and college students by simply casting local dancers in their TV commercial. Sprint and Sprite have been using amateur talent for years with significant success.

When Ingstad’s crew at Radio Fargo-Moorhead announced they were going to put their best local foot forward, they meant it. Their marketing attack consisting of a healthy media buy, creative marketing and community involvement really hit on all cylinders. Even if you disagreed with any of the messages within the advertisements, you still can’t discount the fact each campaign hit a bullseye with their projected demographic.

The annual Crusader’s Sabin Street Dance is coming up and I couldn’t help but notice their portable sign on the outskrits of Sabin. At the bottom of the sign, they advertise “Cats and Dogs.” I might be a little out of touch as I near my 55th birthday, but are pets an acceptable guest at the street dance or is that the name of the headlining band? Knowing the Crusader’s, it is probably both.

Davis as been a resident of Fargo for 23 years and a marketing consultant for small to medium sized business for 17 years.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fargo, ND - Josh Miller is a 31-year-old computer programmer who pulls in a respectable $52,000 a year from a local technology company. An annual salary well over the median household income of North Dakota’s $39,233. Josh is single, has federal and state taxes taken out of his check, as well as social security. Josh currently pays for his own medical coverage and treats dental and vision as à la cartè.

Josh currently owns a home in Fargo valued by the county at $144,000. He purchased the home for $150,000, putting $10,000 down. Josh received a favorable rate of 5.75% and since he was only able to put $10K down, he pays PMI insurance.
We also looked at his transportation costs along with professional amenities and utitlies. Professional amenities include cell phone, Internet service, heat, water and other basic residential utilities. Josh, like many other young professionals, has opted to only carry a cell phone and not a land line.

Josh is an educated professional, he has student loan obligations which he is repaying on a monthly basis. He is also average in terms of credit card debt. Josh has roughly $8,000 balancing over two cards. For the purpose of this article we will be applying his minimum payments.

Other monthly expenses we have itemized are a 401K and gasoline.

Josh should have no problem having an above average quality of life in North Dakota. Or can he?

For the purpose of this exercise, The Business Journal used a budgetary worksheet provided by the American Consumer Credit Counseling Center to assist Josh with his personal budget. Next, we prioritized what a modern-day professional needs to stay competitive in the work place. Then we itemized according to ACCC’s budgetary structure, using Josh’s monthly payments.

The Brass Tax

Gross Check

Net Check

Housing Expenses

Transportation Expenses

Utilities & Professional Expenses

Other Loans & Liabilities

Additional Expenses

Total Monthly Expenses: $3,176
Net Monthly Income: $3,132

-$44 Monthly Shortfall

A Modern Day Employee’s $52,000 Salary and Expenses

Monthly Salary $4,333
Federal Withholding $685
State Income Tax $246
Social Security $270
Net Paycheck $3132

Housing Principal $817
Monthly Escrow Payment $343
Total monthly housing bill $1160

Transportation Expenses
Auto Lease $250
Auto Insurance $110
Gasoline/Repair $150
Total transportation $510

Utilities & Professional Amenities
CableOne/Internet $140
Verizon Phone $85
City of Fargo $36
Xcel $120
Total Utilities $381

Additional liabilities
Credit Card 1 $300
Credit Card 2 $150
Student Loans $225
Total additional $675

Medical Coverage $300
Monthly 401K $150 (Five percent of total check)
Total Other $450

Josh’s total Monthly Expenses before food, clothing, entertainment or charitable giving are $3176

Next Month: How far does 80K a year go for a family of four?

07/31/2007 | 1:18 AM | By: MikeRG

I can see how his credit card debt got to be 8K. Can't wait for next month's article.

08/02/2007 | 1:10 AM | By: AtHomeCEO

52K is a just enough money to give you a false sense of security. Not too much to trim there with his career - maybe buy the lesser expensive package from CableOne, I think it is like $20 less. Take that money and buy some food. No PPV Movies, that would be too much. All kidding aside, good topic and article. This is a problem that is on the rise. $225 for student loans is cheap and I thought a few other expenses were on the low end.

08/02/2007 | 1:16 PM | By: mrbizplan

Funny thing...I am a 30 something in the FM area making about the same amount of money. I am married, have three kids and up until last year my wife has not held a full time job (and for some years was a stay at home mom). I would say that a lot of the "struggle" for the person in this article has to do with lifestyle and, some of the numbers are out of whack (cable one bill?!? – there are other providers that bundle for about $50-$60 less). For example, in 2002 the four of us (before our youngest was born) we lived a modest but comfortable life in Grand Forks on about $36,000 a year total household income. We had an $800/mortgage, one car payment of $300 a month, about $4000-$6000 on a credit card, $30,000 in student loan debt, and household bills. But, we made it and even had some discretionary income for a movie every once in a while. Now we make about $90K a year combined, we have a larger house and all of the modern "necessities" and it seems like we struggle to stay ahead. Most of this is due to a relaxed spending policy once we finally "made it". Once we realize that "wants" are different than "needs" $52K goes a long way in ND.

08/11/2007 | 1:36 PM | By: grateful281

I would love to make 52K a year and when I do, I will make sure to prioritize my expenses. The problem is, I wasn't too sure what to cut out of your list. Health Care? 401K? Housing? Those look like the first to go and it opens up $450/month. I thought about the Cable and Internet, but I would probably spent more money by leaving the house because of boredom. Forgo the future to pay for your school loans, car, house and tons of insurance costs.

Energy, intelligence fuels this Atomic entrepreneur

Karson Keely

Moorhead, MN - It only takes seconds after meeting GaNè Skatvold to notice she possesses what many professionals refer to as the “X-Factor.” That indescribable mixture of a veteran’s intelligence, common sense, self-deprication and business savvy while still approaching her business with a rookie’s energy.

GaNè’s entrepreneurial energy and passion roots back to her adolescent years. “I knew from my junior high days, I wanted to be self-employed.” This drive is what lead GaNè on her entrepreneurial journey.

After graduating from Moorhead High School, GaNè enrolled at Moorhead State University, where she attended classes for two years. Having been influenced by her love of flying and the memories of her father’s small engine plane from the farm, GaNè entered the workforce as a flight attendant for Western Airlines, which later merged with Delta. After five-and-a-half years of flying the friendly skies, GaNè and her husband, Michael, made the choice to have GaNè stay at home with their children Andrew and Charlie.

Then one afternoon, GaNè was reading a magazine when she made the decision to enter the workforce again, only his time she would be self-employed.

“I read an article in Family Circle magazine in 1985 about women having businesses at their homes,” GaNè said. “Then I started a gift basket business called ‘Ultimately Baskets in Moorhead, which I ran for 20 years.”

At this point in GaNè’s life, she was faced with a milestone many home-based entrepreneurs eventually face - the empty nest syndrome.

Displaying that youthful energy and insight, GaNè jumped on the Internet and began searching for her next business venture. She landed on Copperfield Coffee. The coffee house served coffee for about two-and-a-half years before GaNè closed the doors on this progressive business venture.

“Copperfield’s was a $30,000 learning experience,” GaNè said.

The interesting irony related to GaNè’s closing of Copperfield’s is that it eventually opened three additional doors of opportunity. After operating Copperfields for two years, the former owners of Atomic Coffee approached GaNè about purchasing their Atomic Coffee location in downtown Moorhead.

“If I would have never gone through the experience of Copperfield’s, I wouldn’t have been successful with Atomic Coffee,”
GaNè said.

Armed with the experience of making mistakes and overcoming obstacles, GaNè began a barrage of business ventures - opening Bridgeview Liquors, a second Atomic Coffee location, Paragon Office Park and moving the downtown Moorhead location to its current location, off I-94 in South Moorhead.

“When I started the liquor store, I knew zero about the industry,” GaNè said. “I met with the distributors, asked tons of questions, surrounded myself with professionals and began the start-up.”

This aggressive plate of projects was completed in six months (with four months of prior due diligence) and she was able to walk away weeks later knowing each one was operating. It didn’t take long before she was presented with another opportunity that caught her attention. A downtown Fargo location for Atomic Coffee.

GaNe says about 70 percent of her daily coffee business is between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., although there is a night crowd as well. When asked about her nightly clientel, GaNè said, “Each location has its own subculture - soccer moms coming in while their kids are at practice, college students, business folk downtown and van loads of junior high and high school kids hanging out before the dollar movie - we absolutely love the variety of ages and personal interests.”

So what’s next for GaNè? An Atomic South location? Another office park? An interior design business? All would be realistic projects in GaNè’s life, but GaNè has other plans.

“I am going to take a little breather,” she exhales, “It is time to enjoy the fruits of my labor, enjoy the grandkids and keep my options and eyes open for the next business venture.”

Skatvold’s Current
Business Ventures

Atomic Coffee
16 4th St S
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218.299.6161

Atomic Coffee
805 30th Ave. S.
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218.477.6161

Atomic Coffee
222 Broadway
Fargo, ND 58102
Phone: 701.478.6160

Paragon Development, LLC
819 30th Avenue South, Suite 200
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone: 218.284.0429

Bridgeview Liquor
819 30th Avenue South, Suite 200
Moorhead, MN 56560

Old 52 General Store Opens in Sabin MN

Amy Hill

Sabin, MN - Old 52 General Store opened its doors to the public in late July in Sabin, MN. The store has an old-fashioned soda fountain and sells everything from groceries, ice cream, coffee, and old-fashioned candy to hardware. “We want to bring back the nostalgic feeling for everyone,” owner Charles McWethy said. Regardless of the generation you grew up in, McWethy said there is something in the store that will create a sense of nostalgia for you.

“It’s worth the drive!” he said.

McWethy said he decided to open the store in Sabin because he felt there was a need there. There was a building available in Sabin, and McWethy explained that Moorhead is just far enough away where it would take a valuable time out the day for Sabin residents to make a trip to the store, so he sent out postcards asking if people thought the new store was a good idea. He received an 80% response rate and the majority of responses were favorable, so McWethy decided to pursue the idea.

McWethy said he is familiar with the hardware aspect of the business (he is the President of Mac’s Hardware), but the challenge was dealing with new vendors and regulations for the food portion of the new store. “The actual setup isn’t difficult,” he said. For McWethy, the best part of opening the Old 52 General Store was seeing it come together. “It’s been fun working with the people in town,” he said.

Stacy Nowacki will be running Old 52 General Store. There are six to seven employees working at the store. McWethy said he wants to see how business goes, but plans for the future include expanding to include lunch items in the store.

Old 52 General Store is located in a remodeled grocery store five miles south of Moorhead on Old Hwy 52. The building is approximately 1,900 square feet. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7 am- 8 pm, Saturday 8 am- 6 pm, and Sunday 12 pm- 5 pm.

By: MikeRG

Good luck with the new store. Great idea for a growing community.

Comment on this article

Cuba Trade Would Be Good for North Dakota

Fargo, ND - North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson says the findings of the International Trade Commission on trade with Cuba vindicate those who advocate the lifting of the current trade and travel restrictions against the Caribbean nation.

"The ITC report clearly shows that American agriculture would benefit enormously if trade with Cuba was normalized," says Johnson, who has led six trade delegations to Cuba in recent years. "We are talking about an annual increase of $300 million in farm exports, including $72 million in wheat sales."

"In particular, requiring the Cubans to pay for our agriculture products in cash or through letters of credit drawn on third-country banks does nothing but raise our costs and limit our sales," Johnson said. "Thanks to that and all the other restrictions, we have simply shot ourselves in the foot, rather than influence any positive changes in Cuba."

The ITC report, "U.S. Agricultural Sales to Cuba: Certain Economic Effects of U.S. Restrictions," was released today. It examined the impact of legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Max Baucus-MT that would reduce restrictions on U.S.-Cuba agricultural trade and lift the travel band to and from Cuba.

Johnson, who was the lead witness in May at the ITC hearing on the impact of U.S. restrictions on agricultural trade with Cuba, said North Dakota in particular could be a major beneficiary of a change in policy.

"North Dakota has established strong and friendly relations with Cuban food and trade officials and has already negotiated more than $30 million in business," he says. "The Cubans want the commodities we offer, especially beans, potatoes, peas and wheat, and they have proven trustworthy trading partners, even under the constraints forced by our government."

"I believe all sanctions should be removed," Johnson says. "It is time we ended our misguided policy of 40 years, so U.S. producers can access that market and benefit from resumed trade relations. More importantly, we need to normalize relations to foster capitalism and democracy among the Cuban people."

We have often shot ourselves in the foot with Cuba. IF we resumed normal relations (including but not limited to ag trade)with Cuba, all our people would benefit through improved understanding, trade, and the development of interdependence which promotes peace and harmonization of trade laws and standards. Comment on this article

The Monthly Skim….

The jobless report that came back in late July was slightly lower at $301,000 below the expected $310,000 and that mixed with Ben Bernanke’s statement that inflation was leveling off helped push the bond market down slightly, which in turn brought the mortgage rates up. In the middle of May until the beginning of June we saw some of the largest rate increases we had seen in 3 years. The bond took a very large drop in a 24 hour period, plummeting 94 points sending rates up quite a bit. The 30 year rates are still attractive at 6.5% - 6.75% and that should stay steady for a while now.

Many celebrated on the 19th of July as the Dow Jones hit a record high going slightly over 14,000. The stock market making its rally back tends to pull some investors out of the bond market and weigh heavier into the stock market. This too will bring rates up slightly. There has not been any more talk about the prime interest rate taking any more hikes for quite some time, in fact there has been talk about it possibly going lower…we’ll have to wait and see what happens there.

We have been seeing the woe’s at the pump with gasoline above $3/gallon and oil prices hanging in high at $75+. Gold is still above $670 an ounce and holding.

There has been quite a bit of real estate activity in our area in the last 30 days which is a good sign for our area. Some of the lakes area homes have seen a slight decline in traffic, but values should hold. Some investors that bought up lake property 2 years ago and bought on the upswing, may have to wait it out for a while to capitalize on their investment.

It has been a pretty good year so far, we’ll keep an eye on some of the economists overall outlook on where our dollar will take us

Donovan Schumacher is president and owner of Valesco Mortgage. Schumacher Can be reached at or by calling