Hamilton County is betting a new conference center will spur growth

Anne Blankenship

-Submitted graphic The back of the new building will have a patio.

-Submitted graphic
The back of the new building will have a patio.

WEBSTER CITY – The first shovelfuls of soil were turned in a ceremony in October 2017 to mark the beginning of the $2.6 million Briggs Woods Conference Center construction project south of Webster City in Hamilton County.

Members of the Conservation Board, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors and major donors donned hard hats and picked up the gold-tipped shovels to officially break ground.

“This is a joyous occasion as we commemorate the physical beginning of this new facility that will provide residents and out-of-town guests a premiere venue that is equipped to handle corporate and personal events, including conferences, wedding receptions and golf tournaments, to name just a few,” Darcy Swon, development director of Enhance Hamilton County Foundation, said at the time.

Swon said the conference center would be the only facility in the county that would be a full-service venue, providing setup and teardown for events, food preparation, wait staff, onsite event planning and state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment.

“And let’s not forget this scenic view,” she said then, gesturing to the rolling hills of the 18-hole golf course.

-Submitted graphic A drawing shows what the front of the new Briggs Woods Conference Center will look like when it is completed later in 2018.

-Submitted graphic
A drawing shows what the front of the new Briggs Woods Conference Center will look like when it is completed later in 2018.

The new conference center will be a 11,250-square-foot single-story building with four conference rooms that can be used independently or combined to seat up to 360 people. The facility will also feature a commercial kitchen.

Swon said her organization was proud to be one of the first groups to support the project with $150,000 in grant funds. She emphasized that fundraising was ongoing to help furnish and equip the new building and to establish long-term sustainability of the project.

The dream of the conference center started more than two years ago.

“For Hamilton County, I think this is a very bold move,” Hamilton County Supervisor Dave Young. “This isn’t something that other counties would have the capacity to start to deal with.”

He added, “This took a team. We need to keep the team together and cross the finish line together.”

Dennis Bahr, a Hamilton County Conservation board member, outlined the history of the project.

“This project is designed to meet the needs of Hamilton County and the surrounding areas. It goes back over a decade as various people and committees have recommended a facility such as this.”

One study, Bahr said, pointed out that there are 750,000 people in a 60-mile radius that could potentially use the facility.

“In August 2012, the golf course purchased an events tent. After that point, people started asking for more and more services,” he said.

Then, what started initially as a renovation of the existing club house developed into the new building project.

“We hope to complete construction in late 2018,” he said.

Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez, city manager of Webster City, is eager for the completion of the conference center.

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