We should all be very proud of the community in which we live. There are so many positive things happening in Fort Dodge right now that the enthusiasm and positive attitude this community has embraced has become contagious. Last year the Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce experienced great collaboration efforts with numerous organizations including the Development Corporation of Fort Dodge and Webster County, the city of Fort Dodge, Webster County and the Convention and Visitors Bureau. We have truly become a community committed to success.
One of the Chamber's main goals every year is to promote our member businesses and help them strengthen and grow. We do this in a variety of different ways. We provide programs and events that enable our members to network, learn about current happenings in the business world, as well as host seminars and presentations on various business topics. We also help them celebrate their business and announce new expansions through open houses and ribbon cuttings.
Many people do not realize how many different committees we have under the Chamber and what they do. Some of the different committees are: Ag Relations, Ambassadors, Employers Network, Fall Fest, Image Task Force, Legislative Action, Membership/Public Relations, School to Career, Transportation, Volunteer Recognition and the Young Professionals. Each of these committees meets throughout the year, many of them on a monthly basis. They are all run by groups of volunteers that are highly motivated and enthusiastic. These committees are constantly looking for new ways to improve the quality and increase the number of member benefits the Chamber provides.
I would like to share the 2010 goals and visions of some of the committees.
The main goal of the Ag Committee is to increase our community's awareness of all the ag-related industries in our region and how important it is to our local economy. Its focus is to assist and support agricultural development and the agriculturally related businesses throughout Webster County. One of the ways they bring awareness is by bringing in different speakers each month who address the unlimited opportunities that exist in agriculture. Some of the topics include: scientific advancements in crop production and fertilizer; GPS systems being utilized to optimize crop planting, production and yields; utilizing byproducts of corn and soybeans in manufacturing processes; renewable energy; opportunities in the sale and manufacture of agricultural equipment; insurance and financing needs of Ag-related industries. This committee also holds an annual Sweet Corn Feed and assists with the annual Ag Show in December.
Image Task Force
This committee works on advancing the image of Fort Dodge as a progressive, family-friendly, business-friendly community. In 2010 its goals are:
Finish the new entrance signs at the intersections of U.S. Highway 169 and Iowa Highway7.
Advance the new logo for our community.
Promote community beautification efforts and improved community appearance.
Advocate for improved recycling efforts.
Employers Network is a partnership between the Chamber and Iowa Workforce Development. Its main goals this year are to:
Provide educational opportunities regarding human resources issues for local employers through bimonthly seminars and presentations.
Establish Employers' Network Round Table discussion groups to provide an open forum for the sharing of HR issues and best practices.
Provide a networking system for local businesses to increase awareness of resources available and to provide support to those who administer HR functions.
The Fall Fest committee had great success in 2009 and is committed to further improving the event in 2010. This year, the Fall Fest Committee's main goals are to increase attendance and community participation. One way they hope to do that is by increasing the number of activities during Fall Fest and by making sure there are activities for all ages to enjoy. Fall Fest is scheduled this year to be held on Sept. 18.
Legislative Action Committee
The Legislative Action Committee is dedicated to monitoring local, state and national legislative issues that might affect Chamber members and local residents. It accomplishes this by establishing and maintaining a good working relationship with local and state legislators. Its main goal for 2010 is to keep the community informed regarding any new or revised legislative developments. If somebody has information or questions regarding a current legislative issue, we encourage them to contact the Chamber. Another way to stay informed is by attending the various Chamber Legislative forums called ''Eggs & Issues.'' These forums are attended by legislators and are designed to provide residents an opportunity to discuss issues with them that are important in the upcoming year. These are held at 8:30 a.m. at Iowa Central Community College's BioScience building the last Saturday of the months the Legislature is in session. This committee also organizes and hosts forums for local city elections to keep Chamber members informed of election activities.
This committee's goal for 2010 is to make the Fort Dodge Chamber the No. 1 member organization in our community and provide valuable benefits to our members such as:
Network at Noon - held monthly - where different Chamber members each month provide information on their services and projects. There is also a main speaker each month who has the opportunity to highlight his/her organization. This provides members a wonderful opportunity to network with other business members.
Quarterly seminars - Seminars for members on a wide variety of different business topics.
Good Morning Fort Dodge - Quarterly meetings on various topics and information on businesses and activities in our community.
New Member Breakfast - Introduces our new members to our Chamber staff and Ambassadors. They provide information on the different committees and activities our Chamber offers.
Leadership Fort Dodge - A nine-month class that offers participants the opportunity to learn about our community through professional presentations, tours of businesses and agencies, and interaction with local and state leaders. The members spend one full day each month examining leadership styles and specific aspects of the community such as education, area government, local business and economic development, health and human services, the criminal justice system, media and quality of life.
School to Career
This committee is focused in 2010 on advancing education and connecting education with work force development in our community and county by:
Building and promoting a strong business/school partnership to advance work-based learning opportunities including job shadowing, internships for students and business site visits for teachers/counselors to enhance awareness about how curriculum in the classroom is relevant to today's work environment.
Supporting youths with effective career guidance and educating them on career opportunities. The annual Career Day is scheduled for Feb. 18. This event brings in 80-plus businesses to talk to students about careers and opportunities.
Recognizing the best educators in Webster County through the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Award.
Host the New Teacher Welcome Reception in August each year.
Provides job-shadowing opportunities for teachers, counselors and administrators.
The Transportation Committee is committed to engaging and maintaining communication with all entities involved in transportation issues, which include ground and air transportation and the ground and water trail systems. A few of the main projects during 2010 include:
Paving of U.S. Highway 20 from Moorland to Iowa Highway 4.
Grading work of Highway 20 from Highway 3 to Early.
Start rework on U.S. Highway 169 from Fort Dodge to Humboldt.
Provide support for the planned paved trail from Fort Dodge Harlan Rogers and ultimately, the completion of the master trail system in Fort Dodge and Webster County.
Provide support for the state-designated water trails in Lizard Creek and the Des Moines River.
Finish corridor project on Fifth Avenue South from 21st Street to 29th Street.
The YP has three main goals for 2010.
To be a business and social networking catalyst for young people in the community.
To help increase the recruitment and retention of the younger work force.
Enhance the image and quality of life of the community by providing ''quality'' activities and entertainment.
There has never been a better time to become active in the Chamber. Invest in yourself, your business and your community by getting involved. I urge you to explore the wide variety of networking opportunities and programs the Chamber has to offer. I know that these are challenging economic times for everyone and, therefore, I want to reinforce the Chamber's commitment to help with the growth of your businesses. We are here for you and we will do everything we can to help businesses succeed in the years ahead.
As the incoming president for the Fort Dodge Chamber I would like to thank all of the many volunteers who donate their time, energy and talents throughout the year to help our members, our businesses and our community to be a better place to live and work. We simply could not exist without the countless volunteer hours these individuals donate on behalf of the Chamber.
As we look back over the past year, the Fort Dodge Chamber of Commerce has had some great accomplishments and we look forward to continuing this momentum into 2010. Together we can accomplish anything!
Brenda Lastine is president of the Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce.