Greater Des Moines –  What is Central Iowa’s “Green Economy,” and why does it matter?  These are among the questions the Environmental/Natural Capital set out to answer in its new report, “A Greener Greater Des Moines,” released today.  The Environmental Capital is one of eleven focused vision plan implementation programs that make up Capital Crossroads: A Vision for Greater Des Moines & Central Iowa.  The new report assesses and defines the local green economy, identifies and benchmarks the region’s sustainable assets – not only the jobs created as a part of this emerging ‘green economy,’ but also takes stock of natural resources, parks and trails, and the value they bring.  The report establishes a base from which community leaders can track the region’s progress.

The Environmental/Natural Capital has adopted the definition of regional sustainability from The Tomorrow Plan, which defines it as, “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, while making landscapes and social systems more resilient and seeking the coordinated and complementary management of financial, technical, and environmental resources for the collective good.”  The Tomorrow Plan is a regional planning effort focused on the sustainable development of Greater Des Moines. It is spearheaded by the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and involves 17 communities, 4 counties, and countless community organizations and residents.

The report quantifies the Des Moines metro area’s green jobs as just over 5,250, growing more than 11 percent between 2003 and 2010.  That compares to more than 40,500 jobs in Iowa, and an eight percent increase statewide over the same period.

“Central Iowa’s natural resources have served as critical contributors to the region’s economy and quality of life for over a hundred years,” said Capital Co-Chair, Bob Riley of Feed Energy.  “We lead the nation in wind energy, agricultural, ethanol, and biodiesel production.  We strive to draft good policies that enable growth and innovative development in a sustainable fashion.  We have an opportunity to protect and leverage these natural assets in even more dynamic ways that will make our region more livable and  sustainable for generations to come, and has the potential to create hundreds of good-paying, homegrown jobs.”

The report assigns real value to the region’s recreational assets, by showing investment in outdoor recreation, parks and trails available to residents and visitors to the region.   For example, Iowa trails had an estimated 1.8 million visits in 2011, adding $8.5 million to local economies.

“The benchmarking in this report is essential to measuring Capital Crossroads’ success,” said fellow Co-Chair Fred Hubbell. “By developing more capacity in passive and active recreation such as parks, trails, and river-sports, considering new ways to consolidate the management of critical environmental resources, and capitalizing on a revolution in sustainability practices, we can attract tourism, promote economic development, and still preserve the beauty and environmental health of Central Iowa for future generations.”

“A Greener Greater Des Moines,” and the latest news from the other ten Capitals of the vision plan, can be viewed here.  The report is available in a downloadable format.  Media inquiries may be directed to Susan Ramsey of the Greater Des Moines Partnership at (515) 286-4954 or