The stories of entrepreneurs who made a lasting impact in this region are captured in a recently published book by Bruce Gjovig, of Grand Forks, and Hiram Drache, long-time historian-in-residence at Concordia College, Moorhead.
A book signing is planned for 3:30 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Ferguson Books and More, 1720 S. Washington St. At 3:30 p.m., Gjovig will lead a brief discussion and answer questions about the book.
“Innovative Entrepreneurs of North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota: 150 Years of Impact!” is the 18th book by Drache and the fifth by Gjovig. The 300-page book covers regional stories of entrepreneurship, from the Dalrymple Bonanza farm of the 1870s to today’s technology innovators, Gjovig said. The forward was written by North Dakota’s former first lady, Betsy Dalrymple.
Gjovig and Drache teamed up in 2016 to capture the profiles of 76 entrepreneurs, said Gjovig, CEO emeritus of the UND Center for Innovation Foundation.
In 65 chapters, the book recounts the stories of people who, through visionary thinking and perseverance, made a lasting impact on the region.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are what make economies run,” Gjovig said. “Innovative entrepreneurs have always been our region’s biggest advantage.”
The reader may be familiar with some of the entrepreneurs, but many will be new, he said.
Among the entrepreneur stories that may be most familiar to area readers are the Bonanza farms, Cream of Wheat, Nash Finch, Kodak camera, American Crystal Sugar, Hebron Brick, C.H. Robinson, Cloverdale Foods, Good Samaritan Homes, Montana-Dakota Utilities, ThermoKing, Gold Seal, Arctic Cat, Bobcat, Steiger Tractor, Home of Economy, DigiKey and ACME tools.
“Our goal was to present a great breadth of view on how much significant innovative entrepreneurship has occurred in our region over a long period of time,” Gjovig said. “Most do not consider North Dakota or northwest Minnesota as a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship, but it is. Folks on the prairie are good at solving problems and capturing opportunity. However, we have been poor at telling this story.”
Gjovig did the research for the book.
"I had so much material already,” he said. “I did my share of the writing and editing, too, then had people who are really good at editing do their review.
“It was great to work with a long-time friend like Hiram who offered wisdom and context,” he said. “Drache is simply the best agricultural business historian on the Great Plains and has been so for more than 50 years.”
The book was limited to 300 pages so the entrepreneur profiles are "crisp and concise,” Gjovig said. “It is designed to allow the reader to immerse in a few chapters, and then set the book down.”
Each of these entrepreneurs deserves an individual book, not just a chapter, he said, adding that maybe other writers will use a profile as a starting point for a book.
"Innovative Entrepreneurs of North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota," published cooperatively by Concordia College and Smoky Water Press of Bismarck, sells for $24.99 and is available at regional bookstores and online at www.DakotaBookNet.com .