Downtown areas tell a compelling story about the advantages of doing business downtown and are indicators of the potential growth and development of the community. In Fort Dodge, the downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) is helping keep the city's core strong.
"Where a community is perceived to be going is often a result of the city's appearance--specifically the appearance of the older original commercial area of the city," said Cheryl O'Hern, who chairs the Market on Central committee. "This affects decisions to various economic components of the city."
That's where the SSMID comes in. State legislation provides this "self-help" approach to development and improvement of business neighborhoods. A local organization such as a SSMID encourages a higher level of local initiative for dealing with local issues and helps to maintain local control toward future municipal betterment, O'Hern said.
Downtown property owners submitted a petition requesting the SSMID's establishment. The Fort Dodge City Council then took the required steps to approve it. The Downtown SSMID is in place for 10 years, said O'Hern, who noted that it has been renewed three times since its establishment.
Making a positive difference
SSMID funds can be spent on public property or public easements. In Fort Dodge, the SSMID has provided funding for:
Street, water mains, and pavers for sidewalks and cross-walks on Central, the Square and some side streets (1989-1996)
Parking lot renovations (1985, 1996, 1998)
Underground vaults (1998)
Street lights on Central (1999)
Landscaping programs (trees, flower baskets, etc.) (1995-present)
Christmas lighting programs (2002-present)
Downtown Plan (2007-2008) and Design Guidelines (2009)
Downtown maintenance program (2011-present)
Recent downtown projects have included the landscaping by the new Fareway grocery store, Elderbridge Agency on Aging and Nelson Building parking area, the Market on Central farmers' market in historic downtown Fort Dodge, flower pot containers at various downtown businesses and repairs of pavers for sidewalks and crosswalks on Central Avenue.
"SSMID looks forward to continuing partnering with downtown businesses and the city to continue improving downtown Fort Dodge," O'Hern said.
For information, visit www.ssmidfd.com, or check out the Facebook page at SSMID Fort Dodge - Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District.