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Craig Whitney, Published January 07 2014

Letter: Bison football success about more than sports

With great pride, we watched the North Dakota State University Bison football team pursue and claim a third consecutive FCS National Championship title. Players and coaches should be commended on their hard work and dedication. Their efforts have been rewarded in the best way possible.

As the voice of business in the metropolitan region, The Chamber represents more than 2,100 member businesses. As such, we support all the educational institutions in the area for creating a well-trained future workforce and, equally as important, for contributing mightily to our local economy.

When ESPN made the decision to highlight NDSU and Fargo by hosting “College GameDay” here in September, we had an opportunity to tell a story about our community that many had never heard before. The show afforded a national spotlight that focused on the appeal of our community, the contributions of a research university and the caliber of athletes.

But the success of the NDSU football program equates to more than just athletic superiority. It translates to increased visibility for our community, which envelops more people within the local economy, leading to greater business success. On any Bison football game day, people descend on the metro in droves, frequenting retailers, restaurants and coffee shops. NDSU’s annual economic impact totaled $884 million in 2011, according to an analysis commissioned by the university in 2012 and conducted by Idaho-based Economic Modeling Specialists International. NDSU operations contributed $201.2 million in annual income, according to a Dec. 28, 2012, Forum article. That annual income translates to dollars spent in our community, creating an indelible connection between the university and our thriving business economy.

When Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard broadcast “College GameDay” in front of the historic Fargo Theatre, the message was loud, and it was profound: Fargo is a great place to live, work and raise a family, and now the nation knows why.

Forget the woodchipper, the extreme cold, the silly accents made famous in a movie that premiered decades ago. Those are mere details in the portrait of Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo; the real image depicts the people, the community and the dynamic economy we enjoy. That imagery is embedded within Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo and actually supersedes championship titles.

Coach Craig Bohl, his staff and his players have placed NDSU and Fargo on a national map in a serious and superlative way. We thank them for everything they have done to contribute to a successful business economy. We wish Bohl the best of luck as he pursues new goals at the University of Wyoming, and we’re excited to see how Chris Klieman will continue building the legacy that is Bison football.

Whitney is president/CEO, Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber.