Des Moines Downtown Chamber Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary
Chamber Name: Des Moines Downtown Chamber
Elected leader for 2018 (name and title): Lorin Ditzler, Community Planning Consultant
Professional Staff Leader of the Chamber (name and title): Jennifer Chittenden, Executive Director
Number of Members: 350
What Inspired You to First Get Involved with Your Chamber?
The Downtown Chamber was established in 2008, creating a place for Downtown businesses of all sizes to connect, be promoted and do business together. During its first 10 years, the Downtown Chamber created and launched innovative programming to align with the unique needs of its Membership, resulting in several industry honors. Knowledge sharing, fostering an environment of civility and keeping Members in touch with Downtown economic development projects and information are key tenets of the Chamber’s mission, and reasons to be and stay involved with the Downtown Chamber.
What’s a Signature Offering of Your Chamber?
The largest and most popular program the Downtown Chamber offers is the Leadership Education and Advancement Pipeline (LEAP)® series. It was started in 2015 in response to Iowa’s low national ranking with regards to women-owned businesses and economic impact. The series offers nine monthly workshops and a half-day Summit. It is open to the public, both men and women, and the curriculum is focused on professional development, inspiration and connections to local resources to advance women in business.
What is your Chamber’s Biggest Accomplishment in the Past 12 Months?
This is an easy one! The Downtown Chamber was recognized as 2018 Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) last July during the ACCE Conference hosted in Downtown Des Moines (DSM). The strength of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Affiliate Chambers working together as one voice is what put the Downtown Chamber on the map, and the Downtown Chamber Board of Directors’ strategic priorities and staff have helped drive the organization to this national recognition.
Any Initiative or Project That You Are Looking Forward to in 2019?
In June 2018, the Downtown Chamber launched the Student-to-Employer (s2e) Initiative. This initiative connects the Downtown Chamber’s s2e student program partners with the Chamber’s employer-Members who can provide students with occupational experiences via job shadows, internships, apprenticeships and/or other occupational activities like company tours, reverse job fairs and career nights. The long-term goal is to boost Greater Des Moines (DSM’s) sustainable and inclusive workforce by increasing the number of student/employer connections. s2e will also increase business community awareness of and the need for greater employer involvement with s2e student program partners while making the business case for s2e participation. s2e student program partners include Central Campus, DMACC Urban Campus, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, GEAR UP Iowa, iJAG, CICIL and Oakridge Neighborhood.
What Upcoming Events Should People Watch For?
In 2019, the Downtown Chamber is partnering with the Des Moines West Side Chamber and FUSEdsm to co-host a First Responders Breakfast, as well as a New Teacher Appreciation Social. In addition, a committee is working on the first Downtown Chamber golf outing, to be held at Wakonda Club next September.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the fourth largest regional Chamber of Commerce in the nation. Learn more about Partnership Affiliate Chambers, browse the Membership Directory and read additional Affiliate Chamber spotlights.
Jennifer Chittenden, IOM
Jennifer Chittenden served as the executive director of the Des Moines Downtown Chamber from 2011-2020.