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Main Street Fort Dodge leaders: Downtown interest growing

Downtown Fort Dodge has attracted growing interest from business people in the last two years, according to information that leaders of Main Street Fort Dodge presented to the City Council Monday evening.

Since the beginning of 2018, eight entrepreneurs have opened new businesses in the downtown, according to Kris Patrick, executive director of Main Street Fort Dodge.

She added that between January 2018 and Aug. 31, 2019, the downtown district was the site of $466,958 worth of private investment.

Patrick announced those figures as she and Jim Bird, president of the Main Street Fort Dodge board, made the group’s biannual report to the council Monday.

”We’ve accomplished a lot over a year and a half,” Bird said.

Main Street Fort Dodge is part of a statewide Main Street program that seeks to improve downtown areas. Fort Dodge had been a part of the program in the 1990s, dropped out and returned to it about two years ago. Locally, the Main Street district includes 33 blocks downtown.

The report provided by Bird and Patrick included other figures that show there is activity in the city’s core.

For example, they reported that there are 1,187 people who work downtown.

There are also 501 people living in 436 downtown apartments, they reported.

Bird said attracting employers would help the downtown. He said he wants to have regular meetings with representatives of city government and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance to help make that happen.

Asked by Mayor Matt Bemrich to identify the biggest challenges facing downtown, Bird listed parking and cleanliness.

Bemrich said he would like to see a Neighborhood Watch group established by downtown business owners to deter crime.

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