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Minot Chamber incoming chair urges membership to “celebrate our businesses’

Eloise Ogden/MDN Tom Rafferty, incoming chair of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, gives remarks at the Chamber’s 96th annual meeting held at the Sleep Inn & Suites Convention Center in Minot.

The incoming chair of the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors urged the organization’s membership to get more involved in the community and the Chamber.

“We want you to be more involved,” said Tom Rafferty who will serve as chair of the Chamber’s board of directors for 2019-20.

Rafferty spoke at the Chamber’s 96th annual meeting held in the Sleep Inn & Suites Convention Center in Minot on Wednesday.

Born in Minot and raised here, he told the group he wants all of them to think about what makes a community.

Rafferty, who graduated from Minot State University and also has a master’s degree from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, lived in Bismarck for a time. About 10 years ago, he said a business called Verendrye Electric Cooperative allowed him to come back to his hometown. He is Verendrye’s Member Services & Community Relations manager.

Eloise Ogden/MDN Joe Mahon, regional outreach director for the Federal Reserve, keynote speaker at the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting on Wednesday, noted North Dakota has has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

He told the group “we should celebrate our businesses.” He also urged them to “buy local.”

“But a strong community requires involvement,” Rafferty said, urging people to get involved in the Chamber and its work and in other ways in the community.

“Another important part is our connection with Minot Air Force Base,” he said. He noted the many friends made at the base and that many airmen volunteer in the community including at two major events – Norsk Hostfest and the State Fair.

Doug Hollingsworth, outgoing chair of the Chamber’s board of directors who is retired from the military, said, “The base is very important to our community.”

Hollingsworth said he has never seen such a relationship like Minot has with the base. He has lived here for almost 22 years.

Joe Mahon, keynote speaker, asked those attending the annual meeting to text responses to several questions including how business activity has been in the region year to date compared with the same period a year ago?

Most responded by texting, “Up some.”

Mahon is regional outreach director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. His primary responsibilities involve tracking several sectors of the Ninth District economy, an area covering Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and portions of Wisconsin and Michigan for the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States.

Mahon noted the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent and is the lowest unemployment rate since over 50 years ago.

He said North Dakota still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

In the Federal Reserve Ninth District region, professional services firms expect continued growth in 2019-20, according to his information.

John MacMartin, Chamber president, recognized various individuals and Mark Henson, Trinity Health chaplain, gave the invocation.

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