#ThisisFortDodge: A Great City with Great Opportunities
What makes a city great? Is it a good economy, or great schools? Is it a booming arts and culture scene, or ample employment opportunities? When it comes to Fort Dodge, a small but vibrant city in Iowa, all those things—and more—make it a great place to live, work, and enjoy life.
“People in the community of Fort Dodge want the best opportunities for themselves and their families, and they’re willing to do something about it,” said Molly Nelson, a proud citizen who was born and raised locally. “People in Fort Dodge don’t just talk about making it a better place, they do it. There are people committed to everything from the athletics and the music to the parks and the trail system.”
People in Fort Dodge don’t just talk about making it a better place, they do it
Both Nelson and her husband, Kole Petersen, grew up in Fort Dodge, but left to attend college. They lived in the Des Moines area for more than ten years, but always hoped to return to the hometown they loved. They saw their chance in 2017.
“It’s a place we felt very fondly about, and we knew we would move back to Fort Dodge if the opportunity was right,” said Nelson. “The impetus for our move was our careers. We were both looking to make changes. We talked to some of our connections, and we were both led to new job opportunities here in Fort Dodge.”
You don’t have to be a former resident to find a great job in Fort Dodge. This small community has attracted many leading employers to the area, like Nestlé Purina, Cargill, and CJ Bio America. Many vacancies are just waiting to be filled by the right candidate.
Nestlé Purina, a company that makes high-quality pet care products like dog food and cat food, is one of the most well-respected companies in the area. “More than half of our associates have been with the company for 10+ years,” said Jennifer Leiting, Training Manager at Nestlé Purina. Their employees love the great work environment, as well as the generous benefits and compensation packages.
“With a number of our skilled mechanics progressing in their careers, we’re looking for individuals who also want to build a career on our maintenance team,” Leiting, said
Nestlé Purina is hiring industrial mechanics, production and sanitation operators to join their maintenance team. Those interested in these positions can join Purina’s talent network at purinajobs.com/fortdodge for more information. Nestlé Purina isn’t the only local company looking for great candidates.
“The town’s expanding, and that’s giving many businesses the opportunity to grow and bring on more employees,” said T. J. Pingel, the general sales manager at Shimkat Motors in Fort Dodge. “The number of jobs created here in the past ten years is amazing. It’s hard to find a good candidate because there are so many great jobs.”
The number of jobs created here in the past ten years is amazing. It’s hard to find a good candidate because there are so many great jobs
Manpower, a staffing agency, helps recruit talent for many businesses in Fort Dodge. They put out a talent shortage survey every year, and, in 2017, skilled trade jobs were at the top of the list. “CJ Bio America and Cargill came to the community, which drew in a lot of people from outside the area. That caused an increase in the housing construction market,” said Nancy Lundgren, a market leader at Manpower.
“Fort Dodge sits on one of the largest gypsum deposits in the world, and because of that, we have quite a few gypsum mills making wallboard,” Lundgren said. “With the uptick in construction, those businesses take off, but an increase in housing construction requires mechanical maintenance and other skill sets. It’s been challenging to find highly qualified candidates for the positions available.” Skilled tradesmen like electricians, carpenters, welders, bricklayers, plumbers, masons, and drivers are in high demand in Fort Dodge’s thriving construction market.
“The unemployment rate is at 3.3%, and it’s probably going to go lower because we have more businesses coming in the fall that will be hiring at a high volume,” Lundgren said. “We will need to pull more people into the community.”
The unemployment rate is at 3.3%, and it’s probably going to go lower
Fort Dodge’s construction boom offers an opportunity for developers or individuals looking to either remodel or resell existing properties. Laura and Steve Eastwood, owners of Eastwood Realty, a real estate and property management company, have seen a lot of movement in the area recently.
“When it comes to commercial real estate, we’ve had more businesses coming to town, like Cargill and things of that nature, but we have more people trying to start their own businesses as well,” said Laura. “A lot of people want to start their own businesses and restaurants and things, just to keep our community growing. We also have the potential for somebody to come in and take some of our older unique homes and to remodel them.”
“A lot of houses here in town could use some TLC,” added Steve. “They could be brought back up to a good standard and be great locations for new businesses or residences.”
CEC Electric is a locally owned and operated business that designs and builds electrical systems for commercial properties. They’ve been incredibly busy due to this increase in the construction market. “There are lots of new employment opportunities for us,” said Fred Weers, owner of CEC Electric. “We’re working all over town. In the last ten years, Fort Dodge has changed dramatically, and we’ve taken advantage of that.”
In the last ten years, Fort Dodge has changed dramatically
The employment opportunities in Fort Dodge are attractive, but they aren’t the only reason to consider relocating to this charming, Midwestern town. Fort Dodge is a wonderful place to raise a family, and has excellent schools. The town has a 91% high school graduation rate, and 80% of its students attend college.
“People look out for each other here, and they really want the best for each other,” said Molly Nelson. “I think that shows in education—people are not going to let your kid slip. They’re going to watch out for your kid because they watch out for you.”
People look out for each other here, and they really want the best for each other
Nelson is a parent, but she also works as the Director of the Fort Dodge Community Schools Foundation. In that position, she hopes to better the education system by raising money for schools. “We help educators and students go above and beyond what district funding allows, with grants for professional development, technology, and other education items,” Nelson said. “If a teacher has an idea that they want to implement, but there isn’t district funding for that idea, they come to the Fort Dodge Community Schools Foundation. The board listens to their idea, and grants them approval if the idea meets the board’s criteria.” The board recently granted more than $133,000 for Chrome Books and accessories to help the Fort Dodge Community School district achieve a 1:1 ratio of Chrome books to students, an extraordinary outcome.
In addition to enjoying an exploding economy and great schools, Fort Dodge is also Iowa’s northwest central retail hub. Shoppers from all over Iowa come to enjoy Crossroads Mall, national chains like Kohl’s and Marshalls, outdoor and athletic stores, and more. “I get excited about shopping in Fort Dodge,” Nelson exclaimed. “There are some local boutiques, furniture stores, and décor shops that sell and make amazing things.”
I get excited about shopping in Fort Dodge…local boutiques, furniture stores, and décor shops that sell and make amazing things
Fort Dodge is a great city, with a proud community that is committed to continued growth and prosperity. To find out more, visit #ThisisFortDodge.