North Dakota’s Enterprising Women: Leading the Charge in Business Innovation

In the Spotlight: Some enterprising women entrepreneurs from North Dakota

#WomenInBusiness #NorthDakotaEntrepreneurs #FemaleFounders

North Dakota, the hidden gem in the heart of North America, might be known for its immense farmlands, booming oil industry, the iconic movie “Fargo,” and its winters. But, it’s so much more than that. This state is a hotbed of pioneering spirit and innovation – especially when it comes to women entrepreneurs. Tracing the history, from the early days when women carved out farm fields and built sod homes from the untamed prairie, creating thriving communities for their families, to today’s dynamic business leaders, the women of North Dakota have always been trailblazers.

In fact, the same DNA of independence, character, sensibility & realism that helped shape the state, continues to drive North Dakota’s entrepreneurial women today. They are the powerhouse behind the state’s economic growth, turning challenges into opportunities & dreams into reality. The legacy of North Dakota’s women is one of -resilience, ingenuity & relentless pursuit of excellence. This pioneering spirit is alive and well, fueling a new era of innovation and success.

So, women entrepreneurs in North Dakota are making remarkable strides, and contributing significantly to the state’s economic landscape. According to the North Dakota Department of Commerce, women-owned businesses account for over 30% of all businesses in the state – a testament to the enterprising spirit of North Dakota’s women. What has been instrumental in fostering this growth is the state’s robust economy, low unemployment rate & a business-friendly environment.

Women Entrepreneurs in North Dakota: Thriving in a Supportive Business Landscape

Efforts to support women entrepreneurs in North Dakota are ongoing, with outreach programs ensuring that female business owners encounter fewer blockages when starting and scaling their ventures.

The Small Business Administration reports that nearly 43% of businesses in the state are women-owned, which reflects a strong trend of female entrepreneurship. Additionally, development networks providing technical support have seen an increasing number of women clients, underscoring the growing presence of women in the business world. As North Dakota continues to nurture this dynamic group of entrepreneurs, the future looks bright for women-led enterprises in the state. Beck, North Dakota Association of REALTORS

> JILL BERG, Owner & President, Spherion Staffing & Recruiting Insight Consulting

JILL BERG is the Owner& President of Spherion in North Dakota, South Dakota and West-Central, MN with offices in Fargo and Bismarck, ND, Sioux Falls, SD and Perham, MN. Spherion is a recruiting and staffing leader, who supplies temporary, temp-to-hire, permanent placement and outsourced personnel to client companies.

Backed by 25+ years of business entrepreneurship, staff development, sales and financial business management, she consults and trains with clients on workforce development and human resource strategies across the country. She is a Consultant with the Predictive Index and sells and trains on the Predictive Index® (PI®) assessment and the Customer Focused Selling (CFS) system.

She has bagged numerous awards for operational, sales and service excellence from Spherion Corporation including – the 2015 Franchise Owner of the Year, the Special Achievement Award in 2016 and the Excellence in Service Award in 2017.

Plus, she wears many hats. She is Past President of the national Spherion Franchise Advisory Board and has served numerous terms as a Regional Director. She has served as Board President of the Greater North Dakota Chamber and the American Red Cross – Dakotas Region. She is a member of the Agassiz Valley Human Resource Association, Fargo West Rotary, the Paradigm Group, a CEO Roundtable exchange between area business leaders and CEO Solutions, a “Traction” focused strategy group.

> Maartje Murphy, Owner, Cows & Co. Creamery

Passionate about her work, Maartje Murphy puts her heart and soul into the range of products she makes on her dairy farm near Carrington, North Dakota. Cows and Co. Creamery is an on-farm creamery that features artisan Gouda cheese, fresh cheddar cheese curds and authentic Italian-inspired gelato.

Having been inspired by her birthplace in the Netherlands, this 35-acre farmstead evokes the feeling of being back in the Netherlands, but with a modern twist! The Creamery Cafe in Carrington is open daily from 10 a.m. to3 p.m. and a second Fargo location, has opened too.

> Jennifer Morlock, Owner, Dakota Cyclery

It’s a unique experience if you book an epic mountain biking experience on the majestic Maah Daah Hey Trail with outdoors enthusiast Jennifer Morlock, owner of the Dakota Cyclery bike shop! Located at the edge of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, she opened the shop to fulfill her passion – for helping visitors experience the nation’s longest continuous singletrack mountain biking trail.

What the shop offers are – guided tours for beginners, intermediate and advanced bikers; families can opt for the 2-hour “Slow Poke” tour, which teaches basic mountain biking skills and encourages participants to traverse the trail at a casual pace. The abundance of prairie plants in this region of the state allows for impressive wildflower displays in the late spring and summer months, with the pasqueflower first to bloom in April.

> Tama Smith, Owner, Prairie Fire Pottery

Tama Smith has worked as a professional potter since graduating from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1988. What attracts your eyes while stepping into Prairie Fire Pottery are – hundreds of handcrafted bowls, serving dishes, mugs and more, all shimmering with the warm colours that evoke the North Dakota Badlands.

It is unique that she creates each of her high-fire reduction pieces with meticulous craftsmanship and a personal connection.  Every piece has been meticulously crafted by her and displayed in her gallery. Her works are easily recognizable by the three small dots lined horizontally. A visit to her shop in Beach, ND, is an immersive experience. Here customers are welcome to see how pieces are made – watch as they are “thrown,” see the smoke escaping the kiln’s 2,400-degree flames, and feel the heat rolling off the bricks coming out of the kiln.

> Helen Bullinger, Co-Owner, Bullinger Tree Service

Throughout her life Helen Bullinger was involved in small business, watching her grandparents and father operate businesses in Mandan. This helped her make the transition from working at USDA-ARS in Mandan and US Geological Survey in Bismarck, to working side-by-side with her husband, Leonard, in small business again as owners of Bullinger Tree Service in Mandan, ND.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Mandan Union Cemetery and in the past has served on the Board of Directors for the Bismarck Mandan Apartment Association. Besides work, she enjoys spending time with family, gardening and sewing.

> Cindy Griffin, Founder, Harvestone Low Carbon Partners (HLCP)

Cindy Griffin, PHR, SHRM-CP, is the VP, HR & Corporate Services for Harvestone Low Carbon Partners (HLCP), formerly Midwest AgEnergy, which currently owns and operates Dakota Spirit, in Spiritwood, ND Blue Flint in Underwood, ND and Iroquois Bio-Energy Company (IBEC), Indiana. It was in 2011 that she started the company, as the solo HR member who was
responsible for building the HR team, processes, and procedures. She also looked after the development, hiring and construction of the human resource and corporate service functions when the DSA facility was constructed in 2015.

Her interests are varied. She is – a volunteer at her local parish, her daughter’s volleyball, ND Workforce Development Council member, ND Workforce Executive Committee, Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC Workforce Committee along with planning numerous family reunions and events for friends and family. She enjoys physical fitness, hosting family and friends, great food, traveling and being a part of the HLCP team. Currently, she is grateful for the support she gets from her spouse along with Harvestone Low Carbon Partners CEO, and her teammates.

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