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Downtown Fort Dodge by the numbers

Main Street survey shows strengths, room for growth

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Natalie Newell, of First American Bank, front, shares some information relating to the Main Street survey results during a Main Street Fort Dodge market analysis presentation at Olde Boston’s Restaurant and Pub Thursday night.

Buildings constructed in the early 1900s fill downtown Fort Dodge and collectively are the most popular feature of the area, according to a newly released survey.

That same survey reveals that people would like to see more businesses, especially eating and drinking establishments, downtown.

Those were among the key findings of a market analysis survey conducted last year by Main Street Fort Dodge. Its results were released Thursday evening during a meeting at Olde Boston’s Restaurant & Pub, 809 Central Ave.

Jim Bird, president of Main Street Fort Dodge, described the data released Thursday as the “culmination of the information we got.”

The survey collected some basic demographics, and provides market insights based on online and in-person surveys.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Jim Bird, president of Main Street Fort Dodge, presents information about downtown Fort Dodge during market analysis presentation Thursday night at Olde Boston’s Restaurant and Pub.

Consumers surveyed cited the Webster County Courthouse and other historic buildings as the thing they love most or would never change about downtown Fort Dodge, according to the report released Thursday.

The report also revealed that 66 percent of the people surveyed said they feel the customer service they receive from downtown businesses is equal to or better than what they receive at other places where they frequently shop.

However, 45 percent of those surveyed indicated that the quality of products and services they purchase downtown are equal to or better than what they get elsewhere.

Food and drinks topped the list of what people surveyed would like to see downtown. Of those participating in the survey, 61 percent listed food service and drinking places as the No. 1 thing they’d like to see more of downtown.

Other desired additions included specialty shops and boutiques, entertainment venues, sporting goods, hardware, improved parking and parks, according to the survey.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Kris Patrick, director of Main Street Fort Dodge, left, visits with Jim Bird, president of Main Street Fort Dodge, during a market analysis presentation at Olde Boston’s Restaurant and Pub Thursday night.

The survey showed that many downtown businesses are planning for growth.

The report found that 49 percent of businesses surveyed plan to expand services or product lines.

And it found that 35 percent of businesses surveyed plan to start or complete building improvements.

Robin Bostrom, a business specialist with Main Street Iowa, called those numbers “strong percentages.”

A total of 626 people participated in the online survey, while 134 people participated in the in-person survey.

A survey of downtown businesses received 64 responses.

Based on the survey, the leadership of Main Street Fort Dodge has developed three strategies to guide the group’s work.

They are:

• Build a strong organization for Main Street Fort Dodge.

• Create a strong business environment.

• Promote a clean and safe downtown.

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