2012 Legacy Leader Speaks About Community

2012 Legacy Leader Bruce Furness’ Acceptance Speech at the Second Annual Meeting, held Sept. 20, 2012

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you for your presence here today and thank you for your individual and collective contributions to our very robust business community.

And thank you, Bernie, for those kind words.   I am deeply honored to receive this award and am filled with profound humility when I look at the names of the distinguished persons previously selected as Legacy Leaders.  Each of them has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to our community and has indeed left a legacy benefitting all of us.  To be included with them is a distinct honor of which I am very proud.

My own leadership experience took a sharp turn when I chaired the Fargo Chamber in 1988-89.  One of our prime objectives was to find business people willing to serve on various governmental bodies – school boards, city governments, county commissions, state legislatures, park boards.  We wanted to provide a business perspective on these bodies.  When we were unable to find candidates for the Fargo City Commission, I decided to run myself.  That resulted in 14, mostly happy, years in city government.

I want to say just a few words about community today.  And by community, I mean Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Dilworth and the surrounding region. A regional community based on a regional economy, linked together by many forces, and reliant on each other for progress and success.  A community further strengthened by the merger of three chambers of commerce into one.  By working together, we are now able to promote a distinct, different and better community.  A Greater Community.

My first professional job was with the IBM Corporation.  In those days, IBM stood for I’ve Been Moved.  And after two moves and with four young children, Lorraine and I concluded we did not want live a nomadic life style.  I researched the possibility of returning to North Dakota with IBM and, happily, that option was available.  We moved to Fargo in 1969 and have been here ever since.  We were happy to return and happier to stay.

When making such a decision, one gives up some possibilities but also gains many benefits.  For me, the decision to return opened up opportunities for personal growth, professional development, political involvement, public service, business experiences and multiple careers for which I am immensely grateful.  It has been a blessing to be associated with many organizations and causes over the years in this Greater Community.

Our decision to return also allowed us to spend all but eight years of our lives in this state and region.  We, all of us, live in an amazing part of the world.  We have wonderful people who are active and involved in their community. We have low crime rates, great institutions of education and healthcare, quality housing, clean air, open spaces, excellent financial, retail and transportation services, abundant recreational and cultural activities and, increasingly, well-paid employment opportunities.  Our word is our bond and our work ethic is second to none, the best in the nation –we show up for work, we show up on time, we work until we are done and we don’t steal the tools.  We are also a highly compassionate people willing to assist others and contribute to the general good of the entire region.  All in all, a fantastic place to live!

And since 1879, The Chamber has been, and continues to be, a dynamic organization dedicated to making our region the best place in the United State to live, work, play and do business. Our livability index is sky high and the future looks very bright indeed.  I am excited about this place and time. And I am thankful to have had the opportunity to make some small impact on the direction of this Greater Community.

Let me close with a quote from 18th-century theologian and social reformer John Wesley. This statement is not only great ideology but can be used as a very unusual, but highly effective, set of principles to guide us in our businesses and in our community.

“Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”

By so doing we can make a significant difference in our society.

Thanks once again to each of you for the role you play in our greater community and thank you for this very special recognition today.  I am deeply honored, through this award, to be representative of all the work you do to make our community a better place.