Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance buys a new home

The Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance will move to a new headquarters in the heart of downtown by early spring. The Alliance has purchased a building at 24 N. Ninth St. previously owned by Trinity Building Corp.

Tim O’Toole, president of the Alliance’s board of directors, said the one-story structure on the corner of First Avenue North and Ninth Street will provide just about triple the usable office space that exists at the group’s present location, 1406 Central Ave.

O’Toole said a major reason for the acquisition of the building is to create sufficient space to permit other key partners of the Alliance to co-locate with it, thereby, facilitating easier collaboration as well as generating savings on operating costs.

Dennis Plautz, chief executive officer of the Alliance, said Tuesday the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way will be joining the Alliance in moving their offices to this building.

“They will not be under our umbrella, but they will co-locate with us,” Plautz said. “We want to gain some efficiencies in reception and in infrastructure.”

That was a point underlined by O’Toole.

“Each partner will have their own area and identity,” he said, stressing that shared reception, conferencing and meeting space will help make it possible for each of the organizations to use available budgets more optimally.

The arrangement is more than just about cost-saving, however.

“By virtue of what each of them do, we think it will be easier for us to collaborate,” Plautz said.

Randy Kuhlman, chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, echoed that sentiment.

“The … goal is to develop an office complex that includes organizations that are engaged in various aspects of community and economic development,” he said Wednesday. “Being located in the same office area will promote even greater collaboration and coordination on a wide range of community projects and initiatives.”

Kuhlman added that he sees locating his staff team in this new office as a “nice fit.”

“Being in close proximity with the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance just makes sense, ” he said.

Dan Payne, executive director of the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Wednesday he is also enthusiastic about the new office arrangement. He said it is a good way for his organization “to show our support for the other organizations.” He said the financial efficiencies were important, but displaying a commitment to a team approach was an especially exciting and valuable aspect of the arrangement.

Showcasing a unified community effort to grow the economy and improve quality of life is an important reason for co-locating key groups, Plautz said.

“We will be entertaining various companies, clients,” he explained. “I think one of the advantages of co-locating all these organizations is not only does it help with collaboration, but it clearly gives a more unified appearance to our clients and to the outsider – by having us together.”

Plautz said Fort Dodge must leverage its resources wisely to compete effectively for corporate investment dollars.

“We need to engage everybody in this community in the process of economic development,” he said. “You can’t collaborate until you can communicate among the groups. This is just one more step in the evolution of better collaboration.”

About the new site

O’Toole said the building was purchased from Trinity Building Corp. for $228,000.

The Alliance sold the office structure it currently occupies for $178,000, according to Plautz. Both O’Toole and Plautz said the acquisition of the new property represented a quite small additional investment given the increase in immediately usable office space – from about 3,500 square feet to roughly 10,000 square feet.

Plautz said the building’s full basement offers the possibility of expanding work areas well beyond 10,000 square feet if that proves to be an attractive option in the future. He said there is already a real possibility that at least one additional group will elect to be added to the initial mix at 24 N. Ninth St. Details on that development are still being discussed.

O’Toole said the Alliance considered roughly 20 possible sites before settling on the North Ninth Street location, which he said was an exceptionally good choice.

“We couldn’t have found a better opportunity,” he said.

Plautz said one important advantage was the relatively little reconstruction of the existing space that will be required.

“It’s more minimal than in any other location we looked at,” he said. “Therefore, it is more cost-effective and will be cheaper.”

Plautz said Allers Architects is developing a design for what reworking of the space is needed.