The Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance did some growing of its own during 2012 as the relatively new organization assumes its role in economic development.
In the process, a familiar face left the group and some new ones joined it.
Sometime this year, the alliance will move to a new downtown home that it will share with three other entities.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance economic development director Kelly Halsted, left, looks over an advertising project with GFDGA Chef Executive Officer Dennis Plautz.
The alliance was established in January 2011 by combining the former Development Corporation of Fort Dodge and Webster County with the Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce.
One of the primary goals was creating a more efficient organization by avoiding the duplication of efforts that sometimes happened with the Development Corporation and the Chamber.
''It was hoped that we could use both our human and financial resources in more efficient ways,'' said Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the alliance.
Plautz began working with the alliance as its interim CEO in 2011 while he was still the director of the city's Department of Business Affairs and Community Growth. In March 2012, he left the city and became the alliance's full-time CEO.
Plautz believes that anybody who is in charge of anything has a role to play in economic development.
''It's not the job of the Growth Alliance to do everything,'' he said. ''I believe it's the job of the alliance to improve collaboration and facilitate working together to improve the economy of Fort Dodge.''
To help the alliance play its role as an agency that collaborates with others on economic development, organization leaders in 2012 set up a committee system that Plautz said will be efficient and accountable.
The Chamber and the Development Corporation both had their own set of committees, some of which had duties that duplicated what other panels were doing.
All those committees were abolished and replaced with 12 new ones.
Each committee consists of people who have expertise in the area the panel is assigned to cover. For example, the Infrastructure Committee consists of civil engineers and utility company representatives.
''We want the committees to be made of people that bring value to that committee instead of just signing up for something to which you want to belong,'' Plautz said.
The committees are:
Primary Sector Companies
Each committee has a charter that spells out its mission and a method in place to track its progress.
The alliance began 2012 with Plautz as its CEO, Kelly Halsted as its economic development director, and Amy Bruno as its community development director.
Bruno became the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in May 2008 and transitioned to a new role when the Growth Alliance began. She resigned Dec. 31, 2012. and began working with the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way this year.
She will be a contract employee working on literacy, education and human development.
A search for her replacement is under way.
Kathleen Koch joined the alliance as its marketing director in September. She's responsible for producing streamlined marketing targeted to the community, businesses and members of the organization.
In January, Emily Mason was hired as the alliance's organizational administrator. She will handle secretarial and administrative duties.
A new home
When the alliance was established, its board of directors was interested in locating it in a site with other community organizations that it was likely to work with on a regular basis. Initially, that wasn't possible and the alliance set up shop in the former Chamber of Commerce office at 1406 Central Ave.
However, this year the alliance will implement that original vision of locating with other groups.
The Chamber building was sold to USW Utility Group, the company that operates the Fort Dodge wastewater treatment plant.
In December, the alliance purchased a building at 24 N. Ninth St. from Trinity Building Corp. That building most recently housed the billing office for Trimark Physicians Group. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Plautz said the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Small Business Development Center will also move into the Ninth Street building.
''We're just simply co-locating to try to collaborate better,'' he said.
Allers Associates Architects of Fort Dodge has been hired to evaluate the building and prepare plans for its future use. A schedule for moving the various organizations into their new home hasn't been determined yet.