New Growth Alliance CEO is ready to work
Ferris plans to ‘uphold the collaboration
When Astra Ferris moved to Fort Dodge recently, she was immediately impressed by all the things the community has to offer.
There are a lot of things to do, and a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities, she said.
Those are among the things she plans to tout as she promotes the community in her new role as chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.
“There’s a lot of things we take for granted here,” she said. “We need to collectively tell those stories.”
Ferris assumed the CEO role on Sept. 5. She replaced Dennis Plautz, who served in that capacity from the inception of the Growth Alliance in 2011. His retirement ended 48 years of service to the community that began when he was hired as an associate planner for the city of Fort Dodge in 1975.
Ferris came to Fort Dodge from Lamar, Missouri, where she was the chief executive officer of the Barton County Chamber of Commerce.
She has described economic development as a team sport, adding that the recent successes of Fort Dodge and Webster County are a testament to collaboration.
“All the hard work is being done on a regular basis collaboratively,” she said.
One of her major goals in her new role is to “uphold the collaboration that is an integral part of achieving our goals.”
She added that she wants the alliance to be part of efforts to “really strengthen and showcase our community at another level.”
Doing that will require a collaborative effort, she added.
“This is not a one person job,” she said. “This is not a one entity job. This is everyone working together to achieve a goal.”
Currently, the Growth Alliance has 13 potential economic development projects in what staff members call the “pipeline.” Because companies like to keep their plans under wraps almost until they are ready to break ground, Ferris can’t yet talk about any of the projects. Collectively, however, the projects represent millions of dollars in new investment and hundreds of additional jobs.
Ferris may also be presiding over a realignment of the Growth Alliance staff. The economic development director and communications director positions are both currently vacant.
She is also considering some internal strategic planning.
“What we do is good,” she said. “I want it to be great.”
Meet Astra Ferris
Chief executive officer of the Barton County Chamber of Commerce, Lamar, Missouri, 2012-2023
Various positions at US Bank, Joplin, Missouri, 2006-2012
Executive assistant at Sunrise Media Group, Joplin, Missouri, 2002-2006
Organizational management certification from the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona
National grant writer certification
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organizational Management certification
Graduate of Joplin High School, Joplin, Missouri
Currently enrolled in Western Governor’s University
Awards and honors
Joplin Regional Business Journal’s Most Influential Woman of the Year, 2016
Joplin Regional Business Journal’s 15 Under 40 Honoree, 2016
Nexstar Broadcasting Regional Remarkable Woman, 2023
Husband Jerrad, three children, two dogs, one cat