Thursday evening an event took place that was a good deal more than just a social occasion.
Approximately 300 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 taking place 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 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.
Ernie Goss, an economist from Creighton University, was the keynote speaker. His upbeat message was that there are strong reasons to be bullish about American agriculture in general and Webster County agribusiness in particular.
As is customary at these annual meetings, the recipient of the prestigious Catalyst Award was announced. Randy Kuhlman is this year's winner. The award recognizes citizens who contribute to the betterment of the community.
The Messenger congratulates Kuhlman on this well-deserved recognition. His quarter century of commitment to Fort Dodge is greatly appreciated and much admired.
Teresa Naughton received the first Volunteer of the Year Award, while Justin Rogers was named the winner of the Alliance's photo contest.
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.
Wendy's was named the Small Business of the Year. Kyle Bangert received the award on behalf of co-owners Dennis Johnson and Mark Miller. The Fort Dodge Wendy's is among the top 2 percent of the chain's outlets in terms of sales.
A-1 Moving, the winner of the Rookie of the Year Award, was established in 2010 by Paul and Dawn Brandow.
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 Thursday evening. The Messenger applauds their commitment to this community's future.