Alliance leaders stress cooperation, quality of life

Communities hoping to grow must have cooperation between various agencies and a high quality of life, according to a leader of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

Fort Dodge has both, and has recently become a role model for other Iowa cities in the realm of economic development, said Todd Redenius, the alliance’s community development director.

Dennis Plautz, chief executive officer of the alliance, said Monday that Fort Dodge has seen the debut of 14 new retailers on Fifth Avenue South, and has been the recipient of $343 million worth of global investment.

”There’s never been a better time in Fort Dodge and Webster County than right now,” Redenius said.

He and Plautz updated the staff of The Messenger on economic development issues Monday.

Redenius emphasized the need for collaboration and communication in the effort to attract and retain businesses. He said that cooperation between the city and county governments and private groups like the Growth Alliance has reached new levels in Fort Dodge. That cooperation, he added, has enabled a unified message about the community to be directed to the rest of the state, nation and world.

”That message is, I think, that Fort Dodge and our region is a great place to live, it’s a great place to work and it’s a great place to play,” Redenius said.

Being a great place to live and play is essential, he added. Communities that don’t offer fun things for people to do won’t see much growth, he said.

”The recruitment of new workers and the retention of existing workers does not happen if you don’t have a community that’s a great place to live, work and play,” Redenius said.

Plautz said the $343 million investment represents 17.2 percent of the global investment in Iowa. He said five major local employers – Cargill, CJ Bio America, NestlePurina Pet Care, Koch Industries and Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. – have international reach.

”How many communities can say they have that kind of global access to the world?” he asked.

The fact that 14 new retail stores have opened and a strip mall is being considered for Fifth Avenue South shows that developers see promise in Fort Dodge, according to Plautz.

”They don’t come if they’re not seeing economic growth,” he said.

He said that since 2010 revenue from the city’s 1-cent local option sales tax has grown from about $3 million a year to about $4 million a year.

City officials have planned $1.2 million worth of street paving for next year, and Chad Schaeffer, the city’s director of engineering, business affairs and community growth has previously said that increased sales tax revenue is making that possible.