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Chair's Column: Accept Reality, Focus on Creating a Better Normal

A Better Normal in DSM

August 27, 2020

Uncertainty continues in our world surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and learning to live life with the threat from a dangerous virus. I continue to be impressed and amazed by how the Greater Des Moines (DSM) community and so many Partnership Investors and Members have responded during this time. This is a tough time for many, but together we can accept reality, focus on a new normal and work toward a bright future.

Accept Reality

When we think about the future, I am reminded of the Stockdale Paradox, as detailed by Jim Collins in the book “Good to Great.” It is worthwhile reading the full passage, but the crux is this: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

The reality is that we continue to be affected by the virus as a community, state, country and world. It continues to affect our day-to-day life and the livelihood of many people. Many of us are disappointed that we are still living with the effects of the virus six months after it came to our country, with no firm end in sight. Many of us are concerned about what the short- and long-term future holds for our family, workplace and community. It is important that we acknowledge that. One way that we are doing that at The Partnership is through our Make It OK event series focused on mental health, in partnership with the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative and Capital Crossroads. Find information about this event series at DSMpartnership.com/events.

Focus on the New Normal

Right now, the new normal is Zoom calls, social distancing, wearing a mask and everything else that goes along with accepting the reality of a pandemic. I have seen our community do remarkably well at dealing with that new normal, a normal that we may live with many months into the future.

When we prevail, the world will be different, and our community will be different. We have plenty of reasons to believe the future is bright in economic recovery.

For one thing, we continue to invest in major projects including the Lauridsen Skatepark, the Central Iowa Water Trails project and the Des Moines International Airport terminal project.

U.S. News & World Report just named DSM the #5 Best Place to Live in the U.S. This is reflected in our recent population growth. According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, we continue to outgrow other major Midwest metros and the nation as a whole in terms of percentage of population growth.

Population Growth 2010-2019

We expect this growth to continue. Multiple reports have concluded we are poised for a strong recovery. Business Insider named DSM a Top 10 Place to Live After the Pandemic. Moody’s Analytics considers DSM One of the U.S. Cities Best Positioned to Bounce Back from the Pandemic.

As a community, we are not just looking to a new normal, but a better normal. Our challenge is to build a more resilient community, a more inclusive community and a more innovative community. Those who dare to believe in a better tomorrow make the necessary investments today to ensure their vision becomes a reality. It will take all of us from every corner of our region to make the necessary investments to ensure success through the rest of the pandemic and beyond.

You can count on The Partnership to continue to share accurate and fact-based updates. See more on COVID-19 here.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 365 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.

Tom Mahoney

Tom Mahoney served as the Greater Des Moines Partnership's 2020 board chair and is chairman of the board at ITA Group Holdings.