Main Street Fort Dodge needs you

‘We want to know the shopping habits of everybody’

Main Street Fort Dodge is asking community members to fill out a survey on how to improve the city’s downtown.

“We want to know the shopping habits of everybody,” said Kris Patrick, executive director of Main Street Fort Dodge. “Is internet shopping more important to you? Is that how you utilize your disposable income or do you actually shop in bricks and mortar stores?”

The survey is part of a market analysis of the 33-block Main Steet District, according to Patrick.

It can be accessed through the following link, or by visiting the Main Street Fort Dodge office, 24 N Ninth St. The office is located in the same building as the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.

Main Street Fort Dodge is conducting the survey in conjunction with Main Street Iowa. Fort Dodge was designated as a Main Street Iowa community in August 2017. Main Street Iowa is a program led by the Iowa Economic Development Authority. Its goal is to improve the downtown area of the cities that are part of the program.

Questions for the survey include: how close is your residence to downtown Fort Dodge? How often you shop downtown? How often do you visit downtown to do errands or for office and service-related purposes?

The survey is being conducted anonymously and all responses are confidential.

Patrick said she hopes people of all ages will offer their opinions.

“I have reached out to the schools and we are interested in getting kids 16 and up involved in this survey,” she said. “It’s not just adults that we want to hear from. We want to know how we can develop a downtown to change the culture downtown and it’s inviting to students, inviting to senior citizens, inviting to adults in all age groups to come down.”

She added, “What do you want to shop for? Do you want more shops that cater to men? A local hardware store? Are you looking for clothing items, sporting goods? More places to eat and drink? What types of things people want to see downtown. We are asking what their favorite thing is about downtown and we are also asking the first thing they would change about downtown.”

Main Street Fort Dodge will use the results of the surveys to plan potential developments.

“We can look at that and see how well that lines up with the city’s plan of revitalization in the downtown,” Patrick said. “If those two don’t align, we are going to adjust that plan to align with what the people in Fort Dodge really want.”

Information from surveys will be compiled in a report.

According to Patrick, the report will identify opportunities for new businesses, expansion of product lines for existing businesses, and identify possible economic incentives for new investment and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The report will be shared with local businesses in the coming months.

The consumer survey is one of three surveys Main Street Fort Dodge will be conducting. The other two are called an intercept shopping survey and a business owner survey.

Natalie Newell, economic vitality chair for Main Street Fort Dodge, is organizing volunteers to distribute business and intercept surveys.

“Our team will be hand-delivering a one-page survey to all the businesses in the downtown,” Newell said in a written statement.

Those surveys will be delivered between through Sept. 14.

“Business owners will answer questions describing the type of marketing they use, types of new businesses or attractions which would benefit their business, sales trends, future plans and interest in seminars and technical services,” Newell said. “The surveys are confidential, and we will pick up the sealed envelopes within two days. We have a separate team that will complete the data entry. All online data will be collected through Survey Monkey in a 3-minute survey form.”

Teams of two will work on gathering the 384 shopper surveys. The one-page surveys take less than three minutes to complete and will reflect direct opinions of shoppers.

“We have a short window to collect 384 intercept surveys, 227 business surveys and over 1,000 online surveys,” Patrick said. “Main Street Iowa has challenged Fort Dodge to surpass the 1,000 surveys collected by the Ames team when they implemented the survey process.”

Patrick said within a few hours of opening the online survey on Thursday, 97 people participated.

Main Street Fort Dodge is collecting this primary data through a $15,000 technical service grant from Main Street Iowa, according to Patrick.

All data must be collected by Sept. 22.