Monday evening an event took place that was a good deal more than just a social occasion.
Nearly 250 community leaders gathered at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites for food and camaraderie at the annual meeting of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.
A major focus of the event was the vigorous economic growth that is evolving in our community through the collaboration of a wide array of private and public sector groups. The collective goal is to build a strong economic future for Fort Dodge and the surrounding communities.
The recently created Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance is an effort to unify and coordinate economic and community development efforts to enhance the quality of life in Fort Dodge and the region. The promise this partnering holds for the future is truly exciting.
The slow economic recovery nationally is on everyone's mind. It's important to recognize, however, that business trends locally are much more positive than in many other locales. Significant strides are being made in building a prosperous future for Fort Dodge and the nearby communities. The stage is being set to accomplish dramatic additional progress in the years just ahead.
The Growth Alliance reflects a spirit that is becoming evident throughout the community as planning for tomorrow proceeds - cooperation. That sense of common purpose is beginning to turn what were once just dreams into tangible realities.
The master of ceremonies for the evening was Dennis Plautz, chief executive officer of the Growth Alliance. Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds were featured speakers.
The governor said the expansion of businesses in Webster County shows what's possible in the realm of creating jobs. He said the county has seen $600 million worth of private investment in the last two years. That investment is part of $5.3 billion in private investments statewide during the same time period, according to the Branstad.
As is customary at these annual meetings, the recipient of the prestigious Catalyst Award was announced. Deb Johnson, co-owner of Fort Dodge Ford, Lincoln Toyota, is this year's winner. The award recognizes citizens who contribute to the betterment of the community.
The Messenger congratulates Johnson on this well-deserved recognition.
An additional highlight of the evening was the presentation of awards recognizing the enormous contribution small businesses make to the local economy. Each year the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance honors two such businesses. A Small Business of the Year is selected. Another business, established within the last five years, is deemed the Rookie of the Year.
The Family Pet Medical Center, owned by Dr. Kim Shimkat, was named the Small Business of the Year. Last year, Shimkat moved her practice to a new building on North 15th Street.
Active Health Chiropractic, 1523 Second Ave. N., was named the Rookie of the Year. Dr. Josh Mason opened the clinic in 2011. Last year, his brother, Dr. Zach Mason, joined him.
Businesses given these awards must demonstrate a unique marketing strategy, excellent corporate citizenship, create new jobs and have a plan for long-term growth and survival.
The Messenger congratulates the winners on their accomplishments. Their successes help this community thrive.
To move forward, a town needs citizens willing to expend the energy and make the sacrifices necessary to build a stronger, more vibrant community. Fort Dodge is blessed with an uncommonly large number of people who are committed to a better tomorrow for their hometown. Many of them were present Monday evening. The Messenger applauds their commitment to this community's future.