Posted May 26, 2011 by the Business Record

Which job sectors should Greater Des Moines target in the future?

The answer, according to a report released as part of the Capital Crossroads long-term visioning plan, probably won’t surprise anyone.

The Target Cluster and Marketing Analysis, released by Market Street Services Inc., identified six areas that the region should emphasize: finance and insurance, information solutions, health and wellness, agribusiness, advanced manufacturing and logistics.

These six categories are not much different from the current target areas in Greater Des Moines, the report said, which are finance and insurance, warehousing and distribution, biotechnology, information solutions and advanced manufacturing.

“I think it makes a lot of sense that it’s an evolution of existing targets,” said Alex Pearlstein, director of projects at Market Street, who presented the findings at the final public Capital Crossroads input meeting in late April. “The capacities in this region are pretty established.”

What did make this process different, he said, was the extent to which the report took Ames and Iowa State University into consideration. The report, which is one part of the research, steering committee discussion and public input for the five-year visioning initiative, referenced Ames and Iowa State
numerous times, both in the job markets Ames offers and the majors and programs the university offers that directly relate to the target clusters.

Discussion throughout the planning process has focused on involving input from Ames, as officials have focused on how Greater Des Moines could better utilize the resources in the 50-mile radius around the state Capitol.

“There are a lot of synergies there,” Pearlstein said. “I think one of the real significant efforts of implementation will be to identify what those synergies are and try to leverage them.”

The final plan document, scheduled to be released in late May, and the implementation plan, scheduled to be unveiled in the summer, are expected to go into more detail about just how to leverage opportunities between the two markets. To do so could involve physical development as well as a strategic sharing of ideas.

One of the ideas that has come out of the public input, which included a survey, 30 focus groups and 50 one-on-one interviews, was that there could be a more targeted effort to push development along the Interstate 35 corridor between Des Moines and Ames. That’s not to say the plan will be “prescriptive” about what should be built where, but it will more or less acknowledge that there is opportunity to bring people together and start planning for development, Pearlstein said.

Beyond that, there is belief that the cities could work together more closely, both through leadership collaborations and by encouraging businesses in Des Moines to utilize connections to programs at Iowa State.

“I don’t want to communicate at all that there are not existing relationships or efforts to communicate across the (Interstate 35) corridor. In fact, Ames and Des Moines and some communities along the corridor have been meeting for three years to think about how to market the corridor,” Pearlstein said. “I think what we’re talking about is making it more of a coordinated, formalized process.”

Another key theme of the report was the interconnectedness between target sectors. For example, things done in agribusiness can have a direct impact on health and wellness, and agribusiness relies on advanced manufacturing for equipment. The same types of connections can be made between other sectors as well.

“That is one of the challenges and opportunities of implementing a target-focused development strategy,” Pearlstein said. “You try as best you can to identify those linkages, and to bring folks together that can benefit each other’s research or corporate development. Absolutely that’s a key point.”

The report also looked at the marketing efforts done by the Greater Des Moines Partnership. What it found was that existing marketing efforts are “very strong,” but more can be done to relay what the area’s target sectors are to businesses or individuals considering Des Moines for relocation.

To view the full document, go to