I never thought that I would live in Fargo at age 23. In fact, I tried moving out of Fargo at age 19 (my freshman year at college). I didn't understand Fargo - there were far too few hills, seemingly not enough entertainment, and it was a strange and foreign place to me. Growing up in suburban Minneapolis, I moved up to Fargo to attend Concordia College after my freshman year of high school. I was ill-informed on what Fargo truly stood for: more focused on the misperceptions drafted in the Cohen Brothers' film and the stories I hear of my mother growing up in the North Dakotan city. As my mom continuously reminds me: Fargo was "quite different then, Jack." Fargo was quite different for me in 2011, too.

I thought "Downtown Fargo" was the area surrounding West Acres. I thought the best restaurant in town was Erberts & Gerberts (don't get me wrong, I still love those subs). I thought the furthest south Fargo stretched was 32nd avenue, and I had no concept that Moorhead stretched north of Center Avenue. I didn't realize how impressive a legacy NDSU was building with their football team, I was completely blind to the emerging art community in downtown Fargo, and I would be dumfoundead if you told me today that I would someday believe just how special Fargo is. Because it is; Fargo is special. I believe in this place, and you should, too.

Why I Believe in Fargo

My friends think I'm crazy when I tell them how awesome this place is. "Is this the same place you were ragging on freshman year?" they'll reply. That's fair. But like fine wine, Fargo has definitely gotten better in time for me. The first reason that I believe in Fargo is because it continually gets better. Consuming that Fargo lifestyle is like sipping a glass of Domaine Loubejac Pinot Noir. (I had to look up "fine wines" on Google - I'm more of a beer guy). Sincerely, though, it's seemingly every day that a new layer of coolness is unfolded in the F-M area: whether it's a new restaurant opening up, stumbling upon a store I never knew existed, or meeting one of the lovely personalities in this great town, each hour I spend in the cities of Fargo, Moorhead, and West Fargo feel well spent. Fargo, as a whole, continues to strive to get better, too. The city is home to some of the hardest working people you'll find, and almost every one of those individuals is dedicated to improving the quality of the Red River Valley region.

A second reason for why I believe in Fargo is because of the awesome business community that I have been introduced to. The first thing that every college graduate fears is being without employment. For me, the fear was more so that I would be without employment that I found meaningful. I was WAY off. Shortly after graduating, I sent my resume in to Ryan Fritz, the owner of Office Sign Company in Downtown Fargo. I was introduced to the story of Office Sign Company at the 2015 FMWF Chamber of Commerce Awards. The downtown sign shop took home the award for "Small Business of the Year" and as Ryan gave his acceptance speech, a series of pictures spanned the screen behind him showing the culture & products that OSC offered. When I went home that night, I did a little more research on the company. I found out that Ryan started Office Sign Company in 2008 as a way to spend more time with his daughter. He originally hoped to create a digital marketing firm, with OfficeSignCompany.com being the first client. It turned out that Office Sign Company was getting hits left and right, and so he invested in the signmaking equipment and began making engraved & printed office signs for a variety of national organizations, including Ashley Furniture, Yahoo, Dunkin' Donuts, and more. Fast forward to 2015 and the team was now at 25 employees, achieving an increased bottom line every year, and on the path to continued success with plans to expand into a second facility and add new sister websites. I walked into a goldmine. A year and a half later, I manage the Marketing Department here at Office Sign Company, we opened a second facilty with an additional 16,000 sq. ft. of space, and we've launched and replatformed a few sister sites, including none other than FargoStuff.com. My time with this company has introduced me to just how vibrant and special the business community here is.

The third and final reason why I proudly wear my I Believe in Fargo t-shirt is this: the pride that this community has for people, businesses, and ideas that started here. Just look at all the Eagles jerseys that have been purchased by this community after Carson Wentz went to Philly. Look at how loved Josh Duhamel is (okay, my girlfriend may argue that this is really because of his good looks). I look at the various businesses that call this place "home" and feel genuinely proud. I remember texting my buddies back in the cities with excitement once they got a JL Beers. This community has immense pride in almost everything that has come out of North Dakota, and for good reason: we're sort of the underdogs. We're overlooked by many, but we take pride in that, too. We're the community of "misfits," as Emerging Prairie once put it. I'm proud to be living in Fargo, and there's no doubt that my compadres up here mirror that pride. We welcome all outsiders to come to our community and experience just how great Fargo truly is, and you will soon realize why we take such pride in the many things that start here.

Blog Written By: Jack Yakowicz

Contact at jack@officesigncompany.com