When the Alexis High School was left empty following the consolidation of the Alexis and Warren districts to form the United School District, Rick & Traci Bertelsen, local farmers, made the decision to purchase the Fieldhouse. The town of Alexis was experiencing a lack of local businesses and a space to hold local sporting, social, and charity events, which the Bertelsens saw as an opportunity to transform the Fieldhouse into a space that the area needed. In September of 2010, the Alexis Fieldhouse Company opened its doors, serving as both a business incubator and community center.
There are four businesses located in the Fieldhouse: Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Hair by Claire, Transformations Massage, and Half Court Pizza— the only restaurant in town. These businesses are able to be more successful by sharing the Fieldhouse space due to the less expensive rent and increased publicity and foot traffic.
Not only does the Fieldhouse serve as a space for sports practices, Zumba fitness classes, wedding receptions, dances, birthday parties, concerts, class reunions, craft shows, yard sales, and fundraisers, but it also sponsors many vibrant entertainment events, such as comedy nights, dances, and guest lectures. Although this is the Bertelsen’s first business endeavor, they has shown to have a knack for knowing just what events the community needs; “coming up with ideas has never been my problem” Rick joked.
The Fieldhouse attracts visitors of all ages, from young children looking to play basketball to senior citizens looking for a space to get together with old friends. It was estimated that within the first year, 173,000 people came to the Fieldhouse—a remarkable feat for a town of only 800 people.
This past May, the Alexis Fieldhouse Company was awarded the 2012 Small Business Start-Up of the Year by the Entrepreneurial Support Network. Rick Bertelsen stated that he has many future plans and ideas for the Fieldhouse and we look forward to seeing how they unfold.
Article by Elena Johnson, Economic Development Intern for the City of Galesburg