Central Iowa has become a regional leader in economic growth in the Midwest. The region maintains a strong economic foundation in financial services, manufacturing, and agriculture, as well as growth in healthcare, information technology, logistics, and tourism. Data shows that Central Iowa’s economy is among the strongest in the nation. With the efforts of Capital Crossroads and its many volunteers, we aim to maintain the economic growth we’ve seen over the years and provide even more job growth and entrepreneurial opportunities for residents and newcomers.
The Global Insurance Symposium features a powerhouse agenda of renowned industry keynote and panel speakers, as well as numerous opportunities for attendees to participate in roundtable and breakout discussion sessions with global insurance leaders. Speakers include state insurance commissioners, industry leaders, regulatory representatives from various states, national offices and international organizations, and other experts in the insurance industry from around the world.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership currently targets the following as priority employment sectors for economic and industry growth:
These targeted sectors emerged from our research in the Capital Crossroads 1.0 process. Our focus now falls on existing business retention and expansion as well as attracting new employers to our area. These efforts will demonstrate to newcomers and current residents alike that the Greater Des Moines area is the best place to build and grow a business. Greater Des Moines tourism also already draws over 3 million visitors to the area every year, and with our growing initiatives, this helps fuel job creation through the positive impact of visitor spending. With this growth, we have the potential to draw industry-specific trade shows and events that bring more visitors to the area.
With over 80 percent of local job creation coming from current employers, facilitating growth of existing businesses is a critical economic development strategy of Capital Crossroads. The Greater Des Moines Partnership was an early adopter of so-called business retention and expansion (BRE) programming – visiting and surveying employers on their top competitive concerns and providing assistance with growth ambitions. More recently, industry leaders have joined Target Industry Councils to guide and inform action planning in order to grow these employment opportunities. Local economic development organizations (EDOs) lead the outreach to support existing business expansion.
Use Target Industry Councils to inform sector-based action planning
Leverage BRE visits to inform business expansion and attraction efforts
Continue to advance economic activities with local small businesses
Connect Central Iowa employers to the state’s economic gardening program
Continue to partner with local EDOs to retain and expand businesses
While the vast majority of new jobs are created by existing businesses, it is still important that we maintain a presence as a region in external markets. As with existing business programming, it is crucial that our external marketing be targeted toward priority industries and markets. All Capital Crossroads partners are encouraged to think holistically about how they can market and promote the region through their own work, thus supporting larger regional goals of attracting economic development, talent, and tourism audiences to the region.
Promote Central Iowa through multi-media platforms and technologies
Conduct targeted outbound promotional trips to priority markets and events
Host influential site location consultants and corporate executives at prominent Central Iowa events
Leverage public relations investments to secure earned-media placements
Encourage synergies between economic development and hospitality marketing
Collaborate effectively with state and local economic development partners
In order to make sure our businesses are successful and growing, it is important that we monitor their performance and hear directly from the owners and employers what they need for their business. If a business owner is facing an issue that may impede the growth of their company, we want to hear about it.
We aim to formalize processes to identify policy issues and opportunities then act on them collectively on a state and federal level. Our Capital Crossroads implementation teams and stakeholders will continue to provide additional input and plans of action to make sure Central Iowa achieves optimal economic growth and wealth creation.
Continue to work with all necessary local, regional, and state partners to inform and promote state and federal policy agendas
Redouble efforts to increase Des Moines International Airport’s (DSM) direct connectivity to key markets
Steve Case, former CEO of AOL and one of the biggest success stories of the early internet age, has a new mission through his “Rise of the Rest” movement: shine a spotlight on high-growth companies in emerging technology ecosystems to demonstrate that these firms can start and scale anywhere, not just in the big coastal cities. One of the stops on Case’s first Rise of the Rest tour was Des Moines.
Central Iowa is taking this philosophy to heart through purposeful efforts to support the launch and growth of startups in the region’s most concentrated economic sectors. The Global Insurance Accelerator and a soon-to-launch business accelerator focused on agricultural technology are examples of aligning tech strategies with industry clusters to improve entrepreneurs’ chances of lasting success. We are also continuing our work to better understand Central Iowa’s technology landscape to identify current gaps, opportunities, and solutions. While much work is being done to seed new enterprises in Central Iowa, supporting them through the numerous phases leading to fiscal stability will be critical.
The process of effectively nurturing a startup from idea to launch and through sustainable success has been called a “conveyor belt” because the company is moved purposefully through a series of evolutionary stages, with each one requiring customized support and resources. These stages have established an ecosystem of support programs, facilities, established entrepreneurs, and organizational staff to help a company move from dependence to independence. Central Iowa’s ecosystem has a number of key assets and is building more capacity and momentum every year. Established entrepreneurs and economic development staff are working to ensure that an enterprising entrepreneur with a viable new business idea receives the support and guidance necessary to take his or her company to profitability in Central Iowa.
Maximize the benefit of startup acceleration services and facilities
Fully leverage entrepreneurial support spaces, programs, and events
Capitalize on enterprise-development opportunities at Iowa State University
Facilitate the provision of seed and growth capital
Many participants in Capital Crossroads 2.0 noted that, for technology entrepreneurship to become more established in Central Iowa, those with the skill set to be successful startup founders must see entrepreneurship as a viable career path. This includes young people, women, military veterans, and more. Enhancing Central Iowa’s entrepreneurial culture will require a full commitment from education and training providers, businesses, local and state governments, institutions, and economic development organizations to partner in coordinated and consistent outreach as well as program development for targeted audiences.
Encourage intrapreneurship in Central Iowa companies
Effectively nurture the full diversity of potential entrepreneurs
It is essential that we expand our local companies’ successes into international markets to foster job growth and wealth creation. This is not traditional economic development work; economic development organization staff must act more as facilitators than marketers and help make connections between local firms and potential international markets and customers.
Through its participation with the Brookings Institution in its Global Cities Initiative, Greater Des Moines got a leg up on regions that must develop export-assistance programs on their own. The Brookings partnership ultimately led to the development of the Global DSM Trade and Investment Strategy, a roadmap for opening up new foreign markets for regional businesses and increasing foreign-direct investment opportunities in Central Iowa. Global DSM is the centerpiece of the Business Capital’s international programming and, as such, serves as the template for the International Expansion objective.
Central Iowa’s long-term economic success will be maximized by aligning economic development efforts around foreign-direct investment opportunities in targeted industry clusters, focusing on the opportunities and impacts of globalization and strengthening the global mindset in Central Iowa through the creation of an export culture and attraction of international talent.
Use the Cultivation Corridor to elevate Central Iowa as a global leader in agricultural bioscience
Increase the region’s global identity through growth in the insurance and financial services cluster
More effectively incorporate export assistance into BRE activities
Focus on the attraction of foreign talent to Central Iowa