Dakota Fiber Initiative formed to tackle bandwidth expansion challenge

The Red River Valley’s technology sector is diverse, eager and growing at the speed of, well, at the speed of technology. On Aug. 20, the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce and Sen. John Hoeven hosted the third annual State of Technology event at Fargo’s Ramada Plaza & Suites, an event organized as a way to inform the business community on the future of the tech industry in North Dakota. More than 400 people attended the daylong event, which was keynoted by the state’s technology role model, Doug Burgum, and Tami Reller, executive vice president of Microsoft’s marketing group. Other presenters included leaders from local technology businesses including Appareo Systems, Myriad Devices, Pedigree Technologies and Evolution1. Look for more on these companies in the October issue of Prairie Business magazine.

The underlying theme of this year’s event was: What next? Hoeven and Burgum both made the case that North Dakota is supremely positioned to take technology risks and should invest some of its surplus into expanding the state’s technology sector. Burgum unveiled a challenge to the state to expand its bandwidth and make it the best in the nation, telling attendees that better bandwidth would not only benefit existing businesses and residents, but would quickly attract new technology businesses from elsewhere in the country. He compared the need for an expanded bandwidth network to the build-out of railroads years ago and said North Dakota is perfectly positioned to win the race to have the best bandwidth. “If we blow this opportunity it is going to be completely our responsibility,” he told attendees.

The audience applauded Burgum’s challenge and appeared eager to participate. He offered to help gather a group to explore how to meet the challenge and by early afternoon it was announced that the Dakota Fiber Initiative had been formed, a testament to the speed of the industry and its participants. The first meeting of the initiative is scheduled for Aug. 29 from 9-11 a.m. at the Loretta Building in downtown Fargo and is open to anyone interested in exploring how to improve bandwidth speed throughout North Dakota.