2013-02-07 / Top News

Rosendahl is hired by Wishek JDA

By Francis Materi

After retiring in Hazen, Duke Rosendahl is going to help build Wishek. After retiring in Hazen, Duke Rosendahl is going to help build Wishek. Perhaps best known as the former owner of an iconic area pizza restaurant, Duke Rosendahl believes he has the recipe to help Wishek maintain and improve what it has to offer local residents and visitors.

Rosendahl was named economic development coordinator in mid-January by the Wishek Job Development Authority board of directors. He succeedsAmy Frauenberg in that position.

A native of Hazelton, where he graduated from high school in 1965, Rosendahl operated Duke’s Place in Linton for about 20 years. After leaving the pizza business, he earned a degree in business administration in 1995 from the University of Mary in Bismarck.

Rosendahl spent six years as development coordinator with the Linton Industrial Development Corporation. He started with the LIDC on a part-time basis and, after about three years, he became the full-time coordinator.

Prior to accepting his new job in Wishek, Rosendahl was executive director for 13 years with Hazen Community Development, Inc. He retired in October from that position.

“I believe my past experience as a business owner and as an economic development official is my biggest asset,” Rosendahl says. “Although I was semi-retired, I decided when I heard about the opening in Wishek to give it a try.”

Rosendahl still lives in Hazen and says his employment is a six-month trial by mutual agreement with the JDA Board. Both sides will decide later this year whether they wish to continue the relationship.

“I like what I’ve seen so far in getting re-acquainted with Wishek,” Rosendahl said. “We have a lot of potential. I see opportunities to maintain and grow the community, regardless (of who is serving as coordinator.)”

Rosendahl says during his business days, he was able to make Duke’s Place a destination for diners. He hopes to do the same for Wishek on a larger scale.

“We had people from Linton, Hazelton, Strasburg, Hague, Napoleon, Wishek, Ashley, Zeeland—as far away as Bismarck and beyond, into South Dakota and beyond, in all directions, really—thinking of Duke’s as the place to go when they were in the mood for pizza,” he said.

“You want to be that destination, that ‘go-to’ place, the first thought. If it can work for pizza and breadsticks, I think the general idea can be applied to other businesses and to the community as a whole,” he said.

Rosendahl says he has seen the concept already in place throughout Wishek. Stan’s Super Valu, to cite one example, has long been topof mind for its homemade country-style sausage and ring bologna. Visitors often make special trips to Wishek and fill coolers and suitcases with the famous meat.

“Same thing at Wishek Manufacturing,” Rosendahl says. “They are selling the Wishek Disc and other lines of equipment, not just in the Dakotas and Minnesota, but all over the country, and all over the world.”

When many farmers think of discs, it’s the Wishek Disc atop the list. Over more than 30 years, the company has helped spread the city’s name recognition across the globe.

“They’ve been able to greatly expand their trade area,” Rosendahl adds. “The pace of the market growth has increased in recent years. I foresee ways for other businesses in Wishek to emulate that, to some degree, at least.”

Rosendahl also envisions store front renovations, upgrades to existing businesses and additions to the goods and services that are available locally.

“There are a lot of little things that can be done,” he says. “Wishek is generally well-kept as it is, but there’s always room for improvement. You want to have it be an attractive place that people want to visit. You want them to have a terrific experience, so they will come back. Or to consider moving here.”

Rosendahl says North Dakota has a good network of development organizations and government agencies that can assist current businesses and entrepreneurs who hope to establish new businesses. In some cases, grants or loans may be available to help.

There are plans to schedule luncheons on a regular basis in Wishek, where business people and other residents can get details about community projects. Development specialists may be brought to town to speak in person. Other experts may be asked to present “webinars” — the Internet-era form of the traditional conference call.

“One of the great things about our state is how informal it is and how people will work together. A lot of small towns and rural areas are in the same boat, so the willingness to be friendly and to share information is very valuable,” Rosendahl said.

Katie Pinke, vice president of the Wishek JDA board, says there were eight applicants for the coordinator position. Three finalists were interviewed, and Rosendahl clearly stood out as the lead candidate.

“Duke did very well working in Hazen, he had some great accomplishments up there,” Pinke says. “He listed several references and the people we talked to noted his experience and his passion for economic development.

“That enthusiasm was obvious to us on the board as well. Duke is originally from this part of North Dakota, so he has a lot of connections in nearby cities, as well as statewide. We think he has fresh ideas and that he’ll be a great fit for Wishek.”

Rosendahl’s office is located on Beaver Ave., in the building that formerly housed The Wishek Star and Central Dakota Printing. Many years ago, it was home to the Pfeifle automobile dealership.

Office hours are from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Rosendahl also can be reached via email at wishekjda@bektel.com or by phone at 701-452-2371.

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