• History – Business leaders in the Fergus Falls community formed Forward Fergus Falls to establish “destiny drivers” or goals the community as a whole would strive for in order to provide momentum and direction for the future of the community. – 10 Drivers
• Driver: Promote the area as Telework Ready – Promote Fergus Falls and the surrounding area’s broadband infrastructure, creating opportunity for employment in a time when our community was losing local employers and manufacturing. – Utilize and promote the assets of the community as a great place to live and have your dream job.
• MTA Telework Program acted as a spring board for our initiative.• Fergus Falls EDA jointly attended MTA’s Telework Program with company executives.• Created the excitement we needed – United Healthcare was key.
• In December 2010, Forward Fergus Falls applied for and received a Blandin Grant of $5,000 to aid in startup of the telework initiative.• Intentions: – Develop a website for Forward Fergus Falls and the telework initiative – Educate the public and businesses on the potentials of telework
• Create our own Fergus Falls Telework Summit – Summer 2011 – Invite businesses who have established telework programs and looking for teleworkers – Invite businesses looking to establish a telework program – Invite people interested in telework employment• Promote Fergus Falls as the “Telework Capital of Minnesota”
• Summit 2011 – Something for everyone – Advertised through MTA, MN HR Association, chamber, radio and print ads – 90+ in attendance including Blue Cross- Blue Shield and Microsoft! – Picked up by 3 local TV news affiliates
• Began work on website. Wanted to create a centralized location for employers and employees to come together.• Worked with DEED on their site and garnished input from them regarding our effort.• www.fergusfallstelework.com was created!
• Gaining national attention – Received inquiry from a group in Washington who was attempting a similar initiative – Well-known employers from as far as California calling stating they had read an article detailing our effort and were interested in having their company listed on the website as an employer in search of teleworkers
• Keeping the momentum – what’s next??• Prepare for Summit 2012• Develop radio advertising campaign centered on telework employment opportunities• Begin discussions on how Forward Fergus Falls can work with local business to establish a “Telework Hotel”• Develop a video clip highlighting the Fergus Falls area
• Agenda largely prepared by MN DEED office in Fergus Falls in cooperation with Fergus Falls Economic Improvement and Park Region Telephone/ Otter Tail Telcom• 60+ in attendance
• In second quarter 2012, Forward Fergus Falls launched the “Fergus Falls Telework Minute” radio campaign – Features telework opportunities for listeners – Program is scheduled to run for 6 months• Currently running telework ads weekly in local newspaper using Flexjob resources
• Local business leader steps up to establish the telework hotel – Offers office space, conference rooms, office equipment, etc., by the day, hour, month, and year• Hotel concept has expanded to now act also as a business incubator sight
• Currently has the following tenants: – Medical field/medical coder – Non-profit/2-field staffers – Retail Fortune 100/field staffer – Company offices for Green Sneakers/6 staff and a director – Commercial bus company/6 people – SBDC Regional Satellite office – Comfort Keepers/1-2 field staffers (pending)• Economic Impact Estimate: $400-$450K in payroll
• Overall impacts of the Telework Initiative – Established Telework Hotel/Business incubator - $400- $450K in payroll – Have major insurance company looking at establishing local office to employ 50 due to contacts through the telework program – Attracted 2 major fortune 500 companies who have hired teleworkers and created at least 4 new jobs – Deals pending for more telework jobs within regional companies – Telework (full/part-time) job estimates in the Fergus Falls area – 350+ and growing with an estimated payroll of over $9 million
• Conclusion by some – nothing more to do• Conclusion by others – we’re only beginning• Conclusion by all – a very successful and beneficial initiative for Forward Fergus Falls, filling an employment need while attracting new potential teleworkers to our area. After all, who wouldn’t want to work in God’s country!
Questions?? Thank you.I want to close with the video clip developed to advertise the Fergus Falls area to attract people to live and work in our area.
Dave Bickett, GM/CEOPark Region Telephone/Otter Tail Telcom/Valley Telephonedave.firstname.lastname@example.org