Sam Easter / Special to Prairie Business
B rian Johnson is the CEO of Choice Financial. He’s been with the company since 1999 – just as the age of the internet was dawning – and he’s been CEO since 2011 . That’s enough time to watch an awful lot of change unfold.
L eon Weisenburger plans to retire a coal miner. He’s bounced around the country, working in coal in the 1990s before taking a high-ranking city job in Garrison, N.D., and following his wife, a nurse practitioner, to California. Now he works heavy machinery at the Coteau Freedom Mine, where he plans to stay for another 15 years. That’s about an hour’s drive from Underwood, N.D., where Weisenburger is the city’s commission president — functionally, the mayor.
Emily Montgomery, like most long-time Grand Forks residents, can vividly recall the Flood of 1997—the one that devastated the city, leaving much of it a waterlogged shambles. One of her clearest memories is of local schoolchildren sent to finish the year in Thompson, displaced by the same floodwaters that brought President Bill Clinton and the attention of the nation to North Dakota.
Daktronics is a company that makes some of the very biggest — and brightest — things the world sets its eyes on. The giant screen hung in Times Square? Daktronics. That hundred-foot screen in Moscow? That’s them, too. And so it goes for a few of the smaller things, too, from a sign at the McDonald’s in New Haven, Ind., to a scoreboard at Minnesota’s Hayfield High School.
Think of it as a sandbox — for adults. Bobcat’s Acceleration Center, in Bismarck, is where the company develops and hones the machines trundling through the dirt at construction sites across the country. In a company-produced video, Bobcat staff tout all the things the acceleration center helps them do, set to footage of big equipment rolling across the dirt in a 35,000 square-foot indoor dirt space facility.