FEDA hires new executive director
The Fairfield Economic Development Association has announced Adam Plagge will be the new executive director of the organization.
Plagge will replace former executive director Tracy Vance, who announced his resignation in October. Vance now works for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Plagge’s duties begin Jan. 15 when he officially becomes FEDA director. He is the seventh executive director in the association’s 35-year history.
The new hire said he is looking forward to continuing FEDA’s role in promoting economic growth and helping make the town a great place to live and work. He’s excited to receive input from residents about what they’d like to see the town accomplish.
“I invite community members to stop by the FEDA office to share their thoughts with me as I seek a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing Fairfield,” he said.
Plagge has a Bachelor of Arts in business administration with a minor in economics from the University of Northern Iowa, a Master of Arts in urban planning and a Master of Business Administration, both from the University of Iowa.
He said he was driven to study business and economics because of his curiosity about how organizations succeed.
“Studying business allowed me to look at a diverse range of businesses while economics helped paint a broader picture of how organizations interact and depend on each other,” he said.
In between his stints at UNI and the University of Iowa, Plagge spent time away from the classroom and even outside the country. He joined the Peace Corps and put his business degree to work as an economic development volunteer in a small Romanian town.
From 2006 to 2008, Plagge lived in Deta, Romania, a town of about 8,000 people near the Serbian and Hungarian border. As an outsider, he had to test the waters before undertaking large-scale projects. The task wasn’t easy since the town consisted of multiple ethnicities, each of which spoke its own language and formed insular subcultures.
Plagge is an Iowa native. He was born in Webster City and lived there until he was in middle school, when his family moved to Waverly. After attending UNI and living in Romania for two years, Plagge took a position at Toyota Financial in Cedar Rapids. He lived in Iowa City for three years while obtaining his MBA. For the past few months he has lived in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“It is good to be returning to Iowa,” he remarked.
The Webster City native’s most recent line of work was as a private development consultant. He and a colleague devised an economic model to determine how festivals, such as RAGBRAI or Steam Boat Days, can bring outside money into a community and how much it impacts local businesses.
This past summer, Plagge worked for ACT’s new college and career readiness website, actprofile.org. He said it was a great opportunity to understand how students make important life decisions and what resources they need to become successful in the workforce.
“Indirectly, this also fits into economic development since every community is interested in retaining and bringing talented young people to their community,” he said.
His summer workload included a job working on a $350 million project to develop small businesses and revitalize the central business district in Las Vegas.
Plagge learned of the FEDA opening in December through a recruiting firm. He was thrilled at the prospect of working in Fairfield and returning to his home state.
“I’ve been in town several times in the past and have heard great things about the community through conversations with entrepreneurs across the state,” he said. “Fairfield’s diversity, skilled workforce and strong community
leadership make for an exciting place to be involved in the business development field. I’m looking forward to meeting community members and getting a better understanding of the current business community and the types of potential jobs and businesses that fit Fairfield’s strengths and needs.”
FEDA president Lori Schafer-Weaton had nothing but praise for Plagge and said the organization’s future is bright with him at the helm.
“After an extensive search that produced several qualified candidates, we are confident Adam is the right person for the position and has the skill set to drive economic development activities for Fairfield,” she said. “Adam comes to us with a diverse background in economic development, one that will serve him well as we continue to focus on FEDA’s mission and our goals for continued growth. We look forward to getting Adam out into the community to meet with our members and our many partners in economic development.”