Photo by Hillary Ehlen
Mugire Amahoro* faithful readers! *Peace be with you in Kinyarwanda
I hope this article finds you enjoying the sight of the melting snow. The weather has been too Midwestern nice and has became a classic long Midwestern goodbye, like you see during parties.
The “light coat” weather (aka Spring) has finally arrived, forgive me for not using the adequate seasonal jargon but I do not want to jinx the weather’s timid seasonal transition towards the “no coat” weather (aka Summer).
The sun smiling at us means a lot of things for many people: outdoor activities, biking to work, going to the lakes, people in better moods and self-motivation for a spring cleaning as well. Soon enough, the Tri-College community will have their summer long break. This leaves the FM area feeling the absence and lower traffic of the 50,000 students who travel elsewhere or go back to their respective hometowns.
Where do they all go? Where are the fun destinations people usually go? How can we make them opt for a staycation in the Red River Valley?
What are the attributes we have to pitch to our prospective visitors, students, professional transplants and even longtime residents that don’t feel as connected?
Folkways takes pride in providing world class and memorable experiences to whoever comes to our events. This is not a tangible value added to “memorable experiences,” but it is the best kept Fargo secret.
The hospitality industry is one that is known for creating loyal customers because of their ability to personalize each customer experience with their services.
I have three propositions to ensure a world class NoDak hospitality to anyone who engages with the FM area:
1. The FRIENDER App or WELCOMINDER App (not too picky on the name)
The Convention and Visitors Bureau should, in partnership with the city, make an app for two specific audiences:
- Transplant workers and young professionals recruited by the major employers of the area in an attempt to pair them with long-time workers of the area
- The Tri-Colleges paired with high schoolers because usually high schoolers have a better feel of the area than the average incoming freshmen or transfer student.
This app would be called FRIENDER/WELCOMINDER (where peeps with mutual interests can connect meaningfully with the sole purpose of getting more involved in the FM area).
2. Adopt a newcomer program
The Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation does an amazing job with welcome parties during the year. However, when there is a group of newly hired employees moving to the area, I would love to see an “adopt a newcomer” program to follow up new Fargoans.
Our area and our state have such low unemployment rates, companies cannot afford such high turnovers and attrition rates.
We should invite long-time residents to take quarterly turns on “adopting a newcomer” by getting them involved. They would do this with intentional invitations to the numerous public and private events the area has to offer. The adopters would be trained Fargo Ambassadors and would have extensive knowledge on the ins and outs of Fargo. However, it would be nice to see people who have lived here less than three years to be adopters too. This is due to the fact that they would more closely relate to being a Fargo newcomer.
3. Branding Fargo as the “Mecca of Hospitality”
Think of some of your most memorable moments you have had in the last few weeks or months. Was it a smell? A pleasant company? An exquisite meal while jamming to some folklore? Or just a feeling of being present in the moment causing a sentiment of belonging? Any of these could be continuously reproduced again here, and now it just takes the efforts of you and you alone to make this happen!
Whenever people engage with our community they should look forward to the next time they engage with us and maybe they will eventually think of moving here permanently! I think we have all of the ingredients to be one of the most hospitable towns in the United States because of our blazing warm community balancing out the glacial cold weather!
Until our humble paths cross in the community,
Murabeho!* *Goodbye in Kinyarwanda