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Editorial: November 2016

Ingenuity, innovation and cooperation


Josh Kramer, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager
Josh Kramer

In this issue of North Dakota Living, we spotlight the Pride of Dakota program and one of its successful small manufacturers. She is proof that our entrepreneurial spirit is able to thrive when a good idea is combined with passion and the support of others.

According to, Pride of Dakota was created in 1985 by former Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Jones as a way to create an identifiable state brand that would designate products as “made in North Dakota.” Today, Pride of Dakota is a marketing collaboration used by more than 500 member-companies of all sizes.

Early in my career, I got firsthand involvement in the program, working under Chuck Fleming at the N.D. Department of Agriculture. Chuck was an innovative, energetic and occasionally opinionated public servant. He became a good friend and mentor, and I was impressed with his passion for North Dakota; specifically, his motivation to grow the Pride of Dakota program. Unfortunately, Chuck passed away this year, but his impact and dedication to North Dakota is something for which we remain grateful.

The Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase season is approaching. Plan to attend one of the showcases coming to our bigger cities. See the schedule here. At a showcase, you can buy unique North Dakota products and get acquainted with the entrepreneurs, and appreciate their passion and ingenuity.

Undoubtedly, one key to the success of Pride of Dakota merchants, and to many North Dakota communities, is the availability of modern, high-speed broadband telecommunications. For this, we have our friends in the state’s rural telecommunications community to thank.

The effort rural telecom cooperatives have made to provide high-speed, reliable access to broadband is second to none. With innovation and foresight, they have made local investments in our broadband connectivity. In partnership with longtime ally, the USDA Rural Utilities Service, the telecom cooperatives have extended broadband service statewide, achieving better service than is available in many urban communities nationwide. These cooperatives strive to achieve 100-percent coverage of service areas with broadband connectivity, and continue to increase broadband speed capabilities.

The North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives has a long history of mutual support and friendship with the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives. One thing we do monthly together is showcase in North Dakota Living the progress people and communities are making with advanced technologies.

We are pleased that Pride of Dakota merchants, and the rural communities where they live and work, are thriving though the modern telecommunication – and electrification – our cooperatives are providing. Electric and telecom cooperatives are making the tools of the “innovation economy” available, and clearly our members are taking advantage of them.

We can all be proud of that. 

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Josh Kramer, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email