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Wendy Reuer, Published December 28 2012

Looking back at the biggest area business stories in 2012

FARGO - The year 2012 was full of speculation and anticipation for much of the business world.

Many business owners said they were waiting for the June decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before making decisions about employee health care.

The law, which was upheld, requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance or pay a penalty.

Much of the region hoped an end would come to the 2011 lockout of about 1,300 American Crystal Sugar employees, but workers continued to reject the sugar company’s contract offers throughout the year.

While Fargo said good-bye to some longtime tenants, such as FRS Industries, which was founded in 1885, new businesses filled downtown spaces, and several restaurants across the city opened shop.

Business boomed across the metro. Moorhead Center Mall continued to fill its storefronts, and West Fargo saw a boom of new retail business, including the much-anticipated opening of Costco.


• United Way of Cass Clay exceeds its fundraising goal of $5 million.

• WDAY is the first television station in the region to offer full widescreen newscasts.


• FRS, the manufacturer of rubber stamps and Fargo’s oldest business, moves from longtime location of 64 4th St. N. into 1021 Center Ave. in Moorhead. Dale and Sheri Larson, who bought FRS in 2007, sold the business to Kurt Kiefer, who operates a number of online companies out of Fergus Falls, Minn.


• North Dakota’s crude oil production steadily rose all year, but in March the state officially became the nation’s No. 3 producer, surpassing California and coming in behind Alaska and No. 1 ranked Texas. North Dakota would go on to surpass 2011 production numbers by September.

• Bottle Barn Liquors closes its Fargo location at The Hub entertainment complex at 2525 9th Ave. S.


• Don’s Car Wash in downtown Moorhead, a fixture for more than three decades, closes. Duane Durr, president of Don’s Car Washes, which continues to operate two locations in Fargo, said the Moorhead Federal Credit Union made a purchase offer that was too good to turn down.


• The Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead reports the metro area’s construction industry is the strongest since 2006 with total construction value for the first quarter of 2012 reaching almost $80 million, up 62 percent from 2011. Following quarterly reports continued to show a strong building pace.


• The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

• The Flying J truck stop and Windbreak nightclub at Interstate 29 and 32nd Avenue South in Fargo close for a combined $2.4 million renovation.

• Consumers begin to see the effects of the summer’s widespread drought as food costs increase.

• This summer, a Big Mac cost $4.33 on average in the U.S., up from $4.20 in January and $4.07 in 2011, according to the popular Big Mac index compiled by the Economist.


• Sanford Health breaks ground on a $541 million Fargo facility.

• Popular TV news anchor Robin Huebner returns to the air on WDAY-TV and starts a new venture in print with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

• Ruby Tuesday shuttered its West Fargo shop at 1640 13th Ave. S. in late July. The Ruby Tuesday at 2523 23rd Ave. S. in Fargo remains open.


• Horsch Anderson LLC, breaks ground on a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant just outside Mapleton, N.D. The agricultural equipment manufacturer’s new headquarters will add 80 jobs in 2013.


• Apple Inc. releases the iPhone 5, one of the most anticipated gadgets of 2012. Three days after its launch, the device reportedly sold more than 5 million units, according to Apple.

• Loft, a popular women’s clothing store, opens at West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo.


• The first North Dakota Costco opens at 750 23rd Ave. E., West Fargo.

• John Deere Electronic Solutions unveils its new 90,000-square-foot facility at 4101 19th Ave. N., Fargo.

• PepsiCo ends its bottling operation in Fargo, a move that eliminates 16 jobs.

• Interstate 94 ramps at the Southeast Main Avenue/Highway 52 interchange in Moorhead reopen after closing in 2010.


• Strong Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales signal swelling consumer confidence.


• American Crystal Sugar and Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative report a profit slump, but payments to shareholders remain near all-time high.

• Gas prices dip below $3 per gallon, the first time all year and just in time for what AAA predicted would be the busiest holiday travel season in six years.

• Businesses and taxpayers hold their breath as the country is hurled toward a “fiscal cliff” unless Congress comes up with a deal by Monday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530