A leader on Main Street

Jim Bird receives Leadership Award

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert
Jim Bird, local business owner, received the Leadership Award from Main Street Iowa for his work with Main Street Fort Dodge. The award recognizes “inspirational leadership and volunteers who make significant contributions to the local Main Street program.”

A Fort Dodge business owner and community leader was honored by Main Street Iowa last week.

Jim Bird, owner of Olde Boston’s Restaurant and Pub, Sports Page, Mineral City Mill and Grill and Pancheros, received the Leadership Award for his work with Main Street Fort Dodge. The award recognizes “inspirational leadership and volunteers who make significant contributions to their local Main Street program.”

Bird was the president of Main Street Fort Dodge from the organization’s re-establishment in January 2018 through December 2019.

Main Street Fort Dodge had been on a hiatus for nearly 20 years when Bird started as president, said Main Street Fort Dodge Executive Director Kris Patrick.

Although the presidential role is a year-long time commitment, Bird stayed on for two years.

“We really appreciate the fact that he was that dedicated,” she said.

Bird was among dozens of other community leadership honorees who were to be recognized during the 2020 Main Street Iowa Awards on April 3. However, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions, the awards ceremony was canceled.

“I think it’s very flattering,” Bird said of the honor. “Main Street Iowa does a big job in a lot of communities and it’s nice to be recognized.”

Bird was active with Main Street Fort Dodge in the past, Patrick said, and he has made a big impact on the community.

“He is determined to make downtown friendly for everyone,” she said. “His leadership has created some partnerships with the city and one of the projects he’s working on is bringing lighting downtown. He is integral in the camera program that we’re working on with the city to bring cameras to the downtown.”

Bird is very passionate about downtown Fort Dodge.

“Downtown Fort Dodge is very historic,” he said. “We’ve got a really, really neat downtown.”

He noted that in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, the city experienced a “growth spurt,” which attracted a lot of people to downtown.

“It was a really bustling space,” he said.

However, in recent decades, there’s been an “exodus away from the downtown.”

“I think it’s really important to have a Main Street organization there to work with the city and working on ways to save the quality, historic architecture,” Bird said. “Making sure the buildings that have kind of emptied out, we have an opportunity to fill those up again.”

Bird said that the downtown area earning an Opportunity Zone status a few years ago is a draw for investors to the district.

“I think Fort Dodge has a lot of good things going on, as far as new employers, I just think that if we could match the right employers with the right buildings, it would help the whole economy in the downtown,” he said.

It’s a critical time to invest in downtown Fort Dodge, Bird said, and one challenge is downtown parking. He said he aims to work with the city to make a downtown parking system that works and isn’t “punitive.”

Even though Bird wasn’t able to travel to Des Moines and receive his award certificate from Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this month, Main Street Fort Dodge still honors his work and leadership in the community.

“We feel very fortunate that Jim is willing to continue his dedication and his volunteerism in our Main Street program, even after his years as president,” Patrick said. “And we appreciate all of his leadership and continue that work and relationships with the city and the private sector.”


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