Next fall, the Forest City High School Marching Band will perform in a gleaming new facility that befits its 36 consecutive number-one ratings in Iowa state competitions.
That’s when Forest City, Iowa, will open a $10.3-million fine arts facility on the grounds of Waldorf University, a private liberal arts institution. Heartland Power Cooperative in Thompson and Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association in Lake Mills are playing supporting roles in its construction with pass-through federal loans of $1 million each.
The zero-interest loans come from the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development and Grant Program, or REDLG.
Since 1998, Heartland Power Cooperative has been involved in providing $7.3 million in financing through REDLG and other economic development programs to more than 50 businesses in its northern Iowa service area. Nearly 800 jobs were created or retained.
“Heartland Power Cooperative is pleased to be an active partner in economic development in our rural communities,” said Jon Leerar, CEO/general manager. “Concern for community is one of our cooperative principles. Helping to provide access to businesses and services while also creating and retaining jobs is essential for our rural communities to remain viable.”
Forest City’s first performing arts center will be a 30,000-square-foot facility with a 600-seat theater complete with orchestra pit and stage, a 200-seat banquet hall with adjoining catering kitchen, and green space.
The complex “helps us sell our city,” Forest City Mayor Barney Ruiter told the Globe Gazette in Mason City, Iowa. The new space, he added, will attract families with school-age children and help grow enrollment at Waldorf.
Students in Waldorf University’s burgeoning fine arts department will trade the church space they’re currently using for a state-of-the-art practice facility.
“While [the church] has been a great host, we were running out of space for both our performers and our audience members,” said Bob Alsop, the university’s president.
“In addition, some of the artist series events are more secular in nature—jazz combos for example—and some did not feel comfortable attending those events in a sacred place,” Alsop added.
Victoria Rocha is a staff writer at NRECA.