What does this developer see in Alexandria? “Potential.”
Rob Thompson’s been part of Alexandria’s business community since he was a teenager helping his parents run Orono Resort on Lake Le Homme Dieu.
These days, as president of C.I. Construction and managing partner of GoodNeighbor Properties, Rob either owns, has developed, leases to, or has helped launch dozens of businesses around Alexandria — everything from the Holiday gas station to Fairfield Inn, McDonald’s, Cash Wise Liquor, and Neighborhood National Bank.
As part of his work, he’s often talking to other business owners about why they should build in Alexandria. Here’s what he says set Alex apart.
Small-town life with big-city opportunities
Besides the most obvious asset of the Alexandria area — its world-class lakes — Rob sees the entire community as a unique draw to business owners, everything from the school system, to the athletic programs (the hockey!), to the tourists.
“It’s just an excellent environment where you can have a successful business and still live in a small community.”
“Just the overall activity of Alexandria — with the people coming in, the amount of money Alexandria pulls in from outside areas — it really stimulates development,” says Rob. “Then you add to that the strong manufacturing base. It’s just an excellent environment where you can have a successful business and still live in a small community.”
An exceptionally supportive city
After years of experience working in cities throughout the Midwest, Rob says the support system for businesses in Alexandria, including the support of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC), is stronger than almost anywhere else.
“Nicole was able to get us a $300,000 matching grant for infrastructure work — which is phenomenal. It was literally a grant, not a loan.”
In fact, he says Nicole Fernholz, the AAEDC’s director, recently went above and beyond to help his company land a huge funding opportunity. “Nicole was able to get us a $300,000 matching grant for infrastructure work,” he says, “which is phenomenal. It was literally a grant, not a loan.”
That money is helping Rob and his team repurpose a prime corner of downtown Alexandria into a new four-story complex called The Rune, which will include commercial and retail space, a restaurant, and 72 apartments.
“Nicole really goes out of her way to make things like that happen,” he says
“They’re very, very pro-development”
Another reason Rob’s done so much business in Alexandria? Its supportive banking community.
“People joke about how Alexandria has a lot of banks — you know, like banks and coffee shops per capita are quite high here,” he laughs, “but I can tell you that, unlike a lot of communities, we’ve got a great group of banks in Alexandria that are very, very pro-development. They really work with us to get projects financed.”
He adds, “A lot of communities don’t have the benefit of big banks that are small-town bankers. That’s extremely important in the business world.”