Photos special to Bison Illustrated
The 33rd Governor of the State of North Dakota bleeds green and gold. Doug Burgum graduated from NDSU in the late 1970s where he was a proud member of the cheer team. After going to Stanford for his MBA, the Author, N.D., native returned home to help start Great Plains Software. He kept his bond to NDSU strong when he hired former Bison head coach Don Morton to join his team at the software startup.
In 2006, he founded the Kilbourne Group, which was vital to the redevelopment of Downtown Fargo. His revitalization of the city included the restoration of the Northern School Supply building, which led NDSU to create its downtown campus. Burgum’s wife, and North Dakota’s first lady, Kathryn Helgaas is also a passionate Bison fan. The couple was featured at the Pep Fest Friday night and had a whirlwind of a weekend in Frisco. Here’s what Bugum thought of his Frisco experience.
Burgum on Frisco…
“Frisco, of course, is fantastic and the experience is great. One thing for me as an NDSU alum is that from the very first championship, I generally see more people in Frisco than I do at Homecoming. Whether it’s classmates or people I know who are graduates, that part of community is absolutely great. The events proceeding, the tailgating, just being out to the Plano-Frisco area and seeing how the local establishments embrace it.
“I got to talk to a number of business owners who were in the food and beverage business and they were like, ‘Everybody just cheers for the Bison all year long because they want to see the Bison come back because they have the Bison effect.’ Some businesses have the holiday rush season, Christmas shopping, and it’s Bison week that makes their business work for the year.”
Burgum on NDSU’s Dynasty…
“I think it’s one of the great achievements in sports to get through a field of that size six out of seven years. In seven years, we’ve basically had one loss in the playoffs. That’s remarkable. You think about the injuries we’ve sustained to get there, even the year that Carson (Wentz) was injured. Think about the next man up. We’ve lost key players and have still made it. That’s a reflection of the coaches, the program and on the players themselves and how they’ve worked together as a team. I think that’s got to be a lesson for everybody in the state.
“If people are sitting around and saying, ‘Hey it’s hard to run a business in North Dakota because I can’t recruit the talent,’ maybe they should go talk to Coach (Chris) Klieman and the team because those guys are pulling talent. They’re not only identifying great talent from North Dakota because I saw they got another 12 people or something from Signing Day. They got that but they’re also pulling talent from other places, which is great. We have to understand that it can be done.
“Just like you can build world-class software companies in North Dakota, you can build world-class football teams in North Dakota. It’s a reminder to us that anything is possible.”