Business Feature: Q&A with Tammy Anderson, Development Director at Productive Alternatives

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

At Greater Fergus Falls, we love highlighting the people, businesses, and places that make Fergus Falls special. So, when we had the chance to learn more about a long-established business in our community, you can bet we took it! We recently chatted with Tammy Anderson to talk about how Productive Alternatives helps the people and economy of Fergus Falls flourish.

Productive Alternatives, which has locations throughout Minnesota, has been part of the Fergus Falls community since 1959. Over the last 61 years, the company has focused on helping people live their best lives through its many programs and services. Though there are many aspects of the business, the company is best known for helping adults with disabilities learn job skills and matching them with employment opportunities in the community. In fact, Productive Alternatives is ranked number one in outstate Minnesota for helping people with disabilities find employment.


Anderson, who has been with the company for just over three years, serves as Productive Alternatives’ Development Director. Like most employees of a nonprofit, she wears many hats but her primary role is to share the story of the company and the individuals it serves. On any given day, that could include anything from marketing to speaking engagements to fundraising efforts and everything in between. However, if you ask Anderson’s clients what she does, they’d sum it up in just a few words; “She makes us famous.” No matter how you describe her role with the company, it’s clear Anderson loves her job. She says, “I always tell people, man, I've landed in my happy place.”


Keep reading to learn more about Productive Alternatives and how the company lives up to its commitment to help the people in Minnesota communities thrive.


Can you give us a brief overview of the company?


Productive Alternatives is a nonprofit organization that was created in 1959 to help adults with disabilities transition into the community out of institutional care like the Regional Treatment Center. Initially, the main focus was on job skills development, job tryouts, and job placements.


What would you say makes Productive Alternatives unique?


Many people in the community know us for our work helping individuals with disabilities develop job skills and matching them with employers in the community. What I don’t think a lot of people realize is that we offer a wide range of services and programs in addition to vocational services. Not only that, but we also manufacture products. So, we’re a manufacturing plant, but we’re also a nonprofit with a mission: helping people live their best lives.


I think what makes us most unique is our willingness to try different ideas/programs to help our clients live a full and joyful life. You can see a pattern of this with our array of programs and our extensive service area. One of the best compliments we ever received was when one of our donors described Productive Alternatives as “Fearless.”


Can you tell us a little bit about the different services and programs Productive Alternatives provides?


In addition to vocational services for people