Our History: Creating a Community of Collaboration

When Capital Crossroads first launched, leaders recognized a key challenge for Central Iowa: breaking down the barriers between different work areas. During the first five years of implementation, we’ve used multiple Capitals in many different projects so that cross-Capital initiatives were the expectation rather than the rarity.

In 2011, regional leaders laid out a bold but achievable vision for Central Iowa, a vision pushing residents to dream big and not settle for good enough, to think long term and work together. This vision is known as Capital Crossroads. Capital Crossroads aims to provide positive opportunities for development in our neighborhoods, local businesses, agriculture, education system, health programs, community engagement, culture, infrastructure, local and state government, and environment.

Central Iowa is a region with serious momentum. Since Capital Crossroads launched, the region has notched hundreds of implementation successes across its ten Capitals—our work platforms. National rankings and accolades have become a regular occurrence as a result, and we celebrate this recognition. We focus our efforts toward developing successful businesses, regional and statewide policies, and cultural initiatives in order to keep our community on the fast-track. The implementation of Capital Crossroads has been the most “ambitious, aggressive, comprehensive, and effective” community initiatives campaign our consultant has ever seen. Join our initiatives and see Central Iowa rise to even greater achievements!

The initiatives highlighted here represent those areas that present high-impact opportunities in at least two Capitals. In reality, just about every Capital Crossroads activity has at least one or more cross-sector interaction or partnership. The initiatives showcased below clearly demonstrate the need and benefit of a cross-sector approach

Ongoing cross-sector initiatives:

As we move into the implementation of Capital Crossroads 2.0, we’re aiming to lift up more strategic cross-Capital partnerships. We’re focused on bringing the most transformative efforts to life, whether that means applying a cross-Capital approach to existing efforts or forming entirely new initiatives. We’re interested in nurturing initiatives that will have a waterfall impact and positively involve as many Capitals and communities as possible.

Active Wellness

Leaders in Central Iowa are focused on improving the health outcomes of Iowa residents through a coordinated regional program focused on exercise. Over 80% of illnesses caused by chronic conditions can be improved by making adjustments to exercise, nutrition, and smoking habits. For this campaign, we will incorporate programs implemented by the United Way of Central Iowa, Des Moines MPO, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, Telligen, Polk County Health Services, city and county governments, and more.

Central Iowa Food Initiative

This initiative is focused on making improvements to food programs in the area, from decreasing hunger rates to promoting eating local Iowa foods. There is a lot of potential for cross-Capital initiatives here, and we’re confident that the implementation of food initiatives will help to revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the quality of life for Iowa residents. During the planning phases of these initiatives, we’ll likely initiate a planning phase headed by a coordinating committee.

Making this a cross-Capital initiative will also provide the opportunity to incorporate existing activities like Hunger Free Polk County, Eat Greater Des Moines, the Iowa Hunger Summit, and many others into the Central Iowa Food Initiative. Many Central Iowa leaders feel that local food should be the region’s identity and a “big umbrella” for bringing together urban and rural interests.


Leaders in Social Capital and other Capital work teams feel that civility is a concept that has applicability across multiple public and private spheres and should be focused on as a cross-Capital initiative. Civility and positive interaction enhance all parts of life, so focusing on keeping this civility as a part of all our interactions will help advance the goals, visions, and everyday activities of Central Iowans. We work to keep civil discourse as an important part of all of our Capitals.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

While Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion will remain a primary focus of the Social Capital, regional leaders want to emphasize that truly achieving a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Central Iowa will require commitment and action from all components of society. It’s important for us to continue focusing on diversity and inclusion in all plans and activities we implement across Capitals.


The incredible growth of Central Iowa has resulted in a quickly-growing housing market, which has and will continue to raise housing costs in downtown Des Moines and other popular areas. This popularity has also given rise to housing-related issues, including high costs, exhausted residential development sites, and more. We’re committed to promoting sustainable land use, so will we continue to work on initiatives to plan and regulate housing so that we can keep working toward a balance of housing growth, sustainable practices, and affordable living costs.

As Central Iowa continues its impressive growth trajectory and housing costs are impacted in downtown Des Moines and other popular activity centers, housing-related issues will become more prevalent. This will be especially true as the region’s growth gradually exhausts available greenfield residential development sites and redevelopment and infill housing opportunities become more necessary, desirable, and viable.

In recent years, Central Iowa has demonstrated that it is committed to promoting and pursuing sustainable land use policies. These will include prescriptive scenarios, planning, and regulation of housing in the context of overall regional growth and development.