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National company sets up accounting HQ in Bemidji

From left, Adina Riley, collector supervisor for AmeriPride; Cathy Hedstrom, accounts receivable; and Christie Platt, accounts receivable supervisor; stand by an AmeriPride truck outside the new AmeriPride national accounting headquarters on Technology Drive Northwest. Pioneer Photo/Molly Miron

AmeriPride, a leading North American supplier of linen and uniform rental services, has consolidated the business' accounts receivable in Bemidji.

The office opened Monday, July 25, and the sign went up on the building at 3900 Technology Drive N.W. about noon. The business will serve the entire country and hire 30 locally recruited employees, said Cathy Hedstrom, accounts receivable for AmeriPride.

Dave Rotman, AmeriPride director of program management, said the company had checked out four larger metropolitan communities with the plan to locate in the Central Time Zone.

"We decided to research Bemidji as an option, but not really considering it," said Rotman in a telephone interview from the Minnetonka, Minn., office. "Bemidji was able to rival metropolitan areas many, many times its size."

He said the deciding factors were the location, the availability of high-tech office facilities, such as high-speed communication through Paul Bunyan Communication, and the pool of skilled people able to meet the company's needs.

"We partnered with Northwest Tech and Bemidji State," said Hedstrom. "They (the hires) are all local Bemidji. It's good for the community."

AmeriPride's controller, Kathy Jennings said in a press release that the company received support in choosing Bemidji from the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, Bemidji State University President Richard Hanson and Gary Johnson of Paul Bunyan Communications.

Dave Hengel, HRDC director, said the Neilson Foundation and Joint Economic Development Commission also played roles in welcoming AmeriPride.

Rotman said the Neilson Foundation grant will give AmeriPride the ability to allow people to go to school while they work, but "the Neilson grant was not why we chased Bemidji."

"We assembled a team of local organizations and leaders that were able to align community assets in order to meet the needs of AmeriPride," said Marcus Wiechmann of the JEDC.

AmeriPride has served Bemidji for more than 30 years. The company was founded in 1889 and is privately held by the founding family.