Metro Collective Members Committed to Economic and Community Development

By Kathy Palokoff, goFirestarter

Doug Rasmussen is a different kind of CEO. When talking about Margaret Riter, the Northeast Market Leader of his company, Steadfast City, he refers to her as his “company’s soul.” That’s probably not surprising coming from the founder of an organization dedicated to development that elevates people, organizations, and community.

And it’s also not surprising that the fast-growing national firm selected Metro Collective as its Rochester location since both ventures share similar visions about building community and advancing collaboration.

Consultants at Steadfast City focus on economic development, community development and non-profits. With offices in St. Louis, Rochester, and Canton, Ohio, they work on a national scale to help align government, business, economic development, real estate, and the social and philanthropic sectors so their impact is more impactful.

“I started Steadfast because I am highly driven by bettering lives, improving organizations and communities, and using my talents for good,“ Doug explains. “In my 20 years of economic and community development experience I saw some of that in the work I did, but I always felt it did not have appropriate or deep enough emphasis.”

Margaret feels the same way. “Working at Steadfast has been life-changing. I’m doing good work for small businesses who face lots of barriers getting money. We’re able to help them, and bringing jobs to communities is a wonderful thing to do. This is the right fit for me because we are doing things other companies are not. We have a more holistic perspective and really look at projects from all angles.”

Doug sees Steadfast as a chance to change his industry. “I want Steadfast to be the most innovative consulting firm in our space in the United States. I want us to be so innovative that we might be the only one who does what we do.” The company currently has an integrated offering of site selection, economic incentives, community development and not-for-profit services.

Margaret joined the company in 2020 only one year after it was founded. A Rochester native who grew up in the South Wedge and Brighton, she worked in New York City for Deloitte as a senior tax consultant on credits and incentives after graduating from the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. She moved back to Rochester to help care for her mother and stepmother and reconnected with a high school friend whom she married. In Rochester, she held positions as a business analyst and in economic development before working for Steadfast remotely.

While Steadfast does not currently have any Rochester projects, it is a company goal. Margaret is particularly interested in helping businesses inside the city get tax incentives that could help bring more jobs to neighborhoods.

Doug is also impressed with Rochester. “Personally, I am very inspired by entrepreneurship, arts, music, and culture, and I think Rochester has all of these things, especially when you consider its size. I come to the area once a month and it’s a great place to recharge, create and innovate. We have an incredible team in Rochester and think it could be a great place to continue to grow the business overall since the talent and people we have here are so strong.”

He also is interested in the potential of Western New York. “I actually think the rebirth of Western New York is underway, and it only gets brighter. The area offers a lot of what people want: great amenities, affordability, and even a cooler climate.” He believes the challenge is to change perceptions and the key is to have a continued focus on entrepreneurship and education, as well as working deeply and intently to expand opportunities to those who traditionally have been more shut off from them.