Greater Des Moines and central Iowa is at an important crossroads. The region has vibrant neighborhoods, a strong business community, dynamic arts and recreational attractions, and a desirable quality of life. But the region also has its challenges. The time is right to take advantage of opportunities and address challenges through a clear vision and plan for Iowa’s capital region.  Six months ago, we began the planning process for “Capital Crossroads: A Vision for Greater Des Moines and Central Iowa”.  The result, now just weeks from completion, will be a new five-year vision strategy for the region.


Capital Crossroads represents the latest phase of ongoing strategic planning in Greater Des Moines. Efforts such as the Des Moines Vision Plan, the Major Projects Task Force, and the Project Destiny Vision Plan all led to the development of critical economic, workforce, quality of life, and infrastructure capacity  and laid the groundwork for the current strategic process. However, Capital Crossroads is different in that strategic priorities focused on individually in past projects will be assessed as a comprehensive, holistic framework under this visioning effort. Likewise, the planning geography of Capital Crossroads has been broadened to include a 50-mile-radius drawn from the State Capitol in Des Moines. This geography mimics an existing labor shed that site-selection professionals use to assess communities as locations for investment. The central Iowa focus also allows Capital Crossroads to capture the dynamic research and education taking place at Iowa State University, manufacturing concentrations in Marshall and Marion Counties, and other regional assets not included in the Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).


For the Capital Crossroads regional visioning process, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Iowa State University, Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Bravo Greater Des Moines, United Way of Central Iowa, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, and other key partners retained national consultant Market Street Services to facilitate the strategic plan development.


The process began with a comprehensive, objective analysis of the key trends, strengths, challenges, threats, and opportunities facing Greater Des Moines and central Iowa as it looks to develop jobs and talent in the most competitive economy this nation has ever known. This analysis included a brief economic and demographic snapshot inclusive of key indicators affecting the region’s population and economy.  A community capacity assessment then compared Greater Des Moines and central Iowa against the regions of Omaha, NE; Madison, WI; and Denver, CO to determine how the metro area competes for jobs and talent in the new economy.  A target cluster and marketing analysis identified key business sectors where central Iowa is most competitive.  These recommended industry sectors are:

  • Finance and Insurance
  • Information Solutions
  • Health and Wellness
  • Agribusiness
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Logistics


Underpinning much of the Capital Crossroads research was an incredibly robust public-input process that leveraged thousands of local stakeholders in the determination of the region’s competitive position and strategic priorities. Public input included:

  • over 50 one-on-one interviews with top central Iowa leaders
  • 30 constituency-specific focus groups with stakeholders representing top employers; health care; social service providers; education at all levels; elected officials; minority leadership; young professionals among numerous other categories
  • online surveys that received the highest response rate in Market Street’s 14-year history
  • two community meetings to assure the scope and direction of the process remain on track, the first held in January, the next scheduled April 26


In the coming weeks, this months-long visioning process will conclude with the adoption of the Capital Crossroads Strategic Plan, a five-year strategy providing the region with a vision for sustainable economic growth and development.  The conclusion of this phase of work is really just the beginning of the next phase of work – an implementation plan that will put the volumes of quantitative and qualitative research, ideas, strategies and priorities into action.  The implementation phase will require the same robust public involvement as the idea gathering phase to assure its success.  Visit to find up-to-date reports and presentations prepared throughout the process.  The final community meeting takes place Tuesday evening (5 – 6:00 p.m.) at the Botanical Center is Des Moines.  We encourage you to attend, to participate, and to remain engaged in this process of shaping how we see central Iowa’s future, and our own futures within it.