Local projects presented to senators, congressman

Annual lobbying to DC wraps up

Cooperation between Fort Dodge, Webster County, Iowa Central Community College and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance was on display in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

Local leaders concluded a two-day trip to the nation’s capital by sitting down with U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley and U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull.

The topics covered throughout the day’s meetings ranged from the new renewable fuels lab being constructed by Iowa Central to the prospects for enhancing the farmers market.

“It’s been nothing short of amazing,” Astra Ferris, the chief executive officer of the Growth Alliance, said Wednesday evening.

“We’re really happy about today’s meetings,” she added. “Having all these meetings builds the relationships that are needed when it comes time to pull triggers for actual projects in our community.”

Iowa Central’s renewable fuels lab was a popular topic. The lab, currently in the Bioscience and Health Sciences Building, has outgrown its space there. A new lab is being constructed on the west side of U.S. Highway 169 across from the campus.

College leaders briefed representatives of the Renewable Fuels Association on the project.

“They are very, very excited about the lab,” said Jim Kersten, the college’s vice president for external relations and government affairs.

Kersten said the association representatives said the lab will help position Iowa to be a leader in the emerging field of sustainable aviation fuel.

Webster County Supervisor Nick Carlson said projects along the Des Moines River, including the River’s Edge Discovery Center, were discussed with the congressional delegation. Also on the agenda was discussion of the ag industrial park called Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation.

Carlson said the future of the 133rd Test Squadron, the Iowa Air National Guard unit based in Fort Dodge, was brought up but no definitive answers came out. Late last year, the National Guard reported that the unit will at some point be moved out of Fort Dodge and be given a new mission elsewhere.

Ferris said she talked to United States Department of Agriculture staffers about advice on an open air market at Corridor Plaza.

“We want to know how we can really make sure we take a leadership role to have a more abundant and boisterous market,” she said.

For Fort Dodge City Councilwoman Megan Secor, the trip was her first trip to Washington as a local government leader.

“I’m very impressed with our staff and the useful relationships they have utilized over the years,” she said.


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