Former MIDAS Council embraces new name, initiatives in 2021

—Daily Freeman-Journalr photo by Kelby Wingert KATHY PFIFFNER, the executive director of Pathfinders Strategic Partners, poses by the organizations building.

Pathfinders Strategic Partners has left its old name behind in 2020 as it seeks to continue providing a variety of services and start new ones with its rebranding in 2021.

The intergovernmental agency, formerly known as the Mid-Iowa Development Association Council of Governments (MIDAS), is a voluntary association of local governments headquartered in Fort Dodge. The 28E agreement organization is known by many for its economic development efforts and for the bus transportation service it provides in Fort Dodge and the six counties in its region – Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright. It also provides services in comprehensive planning, grant funding and administration.

“We wanted to create a new atmosphere and different feel,” said Executive Director Kathryn Pfiffner of the rebranding effort, which was finalized in October but took effect with the new name last week. “(We had) a feeling that people didn’t know what we did or who we were.”

With a snappier new name and logo, Pfiffner said the agency wanted anyone looking at their name or logo to know what it meant in the context of almost any of their services.

“With Pathfinders, we’re helping the communities find the right path, whether it’s funding, getting them up to code, getting infrastructure,” she said.

The new name also fits well with their transit service.

“We help you get somewhere one way or another,” said Pfiffner. “We ultimately want to be a true partner to anyone that connects our expertise with communities, with individuals and just to lead the way in finding solutions.”

Pathfinders has a few things to look forward to this year, including new busses and a new program to fund quality, affordable housing construction.

Two new vehicles in Fort Dodge will be delivered in January, painted with a brand new look and color scheme and tentatively be on the streets in March, Pfiffner said.

Another recently launched program awaiting its first successful application is a short-term loan program that would lend contractors capital for projects up to $200,000.

With the infusion, contractors or developers can construct affordable new homes in parts of rural Iowa that have suffered the economic side effects of a deepening shortage of quality, attainable housing for low to moderate income residents.

“We’re slowly but surely going to unveil multiple programs under our housing umbrella,” Pfiffner said.

The idea was inspired by Pathfinders’ collaboration with the Iowa Council of Governments which sponsors Homes for Iowa, a program that allows prisoners in Newton to build mobile-ready homes for under $75,000.

“Someone needs to be the developer that would have the lot, get the house delivered, finish it and sell it,” Pfiffner said. “We thought we could offer these funds to take advantage of that program.”

As Pathfinders rebrands, the director said they are aiming to reallocate over $400,000 in funding formerly earmarked for other less feasible programs.

Home builders looking to take advantage of the program must also have other sources, as borrowing through Pathfinders is limited to 70% of the project’s total cost.

But one home at a time, the organization hopes to negate the ripple effect that poor housing stock can have, even in areas with plenty of job opportunities.

“While there’s homes, a lot of them haven’t been kept up. Most people want updated homes — it’s a huge economic development issue for rural America,” Pfiffner said. “No matter how many jobs you have, if you don’t have places to live, (potential new residents) are going to look for jobs closer to home.”


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