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Business Project Spotlight: EMC Insurance Companies

EMC Insurance Companies in DSM USA

April 18, 2017

The next time you’re in the skywalk lobby at EMC Insurance Companies, take a moment to look at the messages posted on the walls. What you will read is it has been in business for more than 100 years. In fact, it has been doing business in Downtown Des Moines (DSM) since 1911. Forbes magazine listed EMC as one of America’s Most Trustworthy Financial Companies in 2016 which also posted on their wall.  Now let’s take a closer look at EMC by looking beyond the posters.  

EMC's Commitment to Downtown DSM

While you are making your way through the EMC lobby to the reopened skywalk, the first thing you might notice is how nice the surroundings are. The skywalk is brand new, but the lobby has been open for 20 years and it is just as clean and bright as the day it opened. It shows commitment a commitment to quality and leadership that extends to the street, the neighbors and the Downtown DSM community.

Speaking of the neighborhood, though it seems like yesterday, but it has been three years since a devastating fire destroyed the Younkers Building and EMC’s skywalk connection to the north.  This happened just when the Flagship Building was being repurposed for its next 115 years. The fire was so massive, it damaged the neighboring properties and put the future of the Walnut Street Streetscape Renovation plan in limbo. All the time, the questions that resonated were: What would the abrupt change mean to the vision? When and how would the plan move forward?  

Just a short six months later, EMC announced plans to build a new building on Walnut Street. In the announcement, President and CEO Bruce Kelley said, "The company is committed to the Downtown DSM location and taking advantage of the amenities it has to offer." 

Even before the fire, standing on the corner of Eighth and Walnut Streets looking east, you might say to yourself, what amenities? Walnut Street was long overdue for a makeover. Looking beyond the fire-damaged block advanced the need for vision, and I believe EMC’s commitment to build on Walnut Street renewed the momentum we lost in the fire.

New Space in Downtown DSM

Just this past month, EMC held the ribbon cutting for its new building that houses common space for EMC’s 1,200 Downtown DSM employees, a gym, an auditorium, training rooms, printing facilities, an art gallery, event space and storage. And true to the words of CEO Bruce Kelly, it includes 6,000 square feet of street-level retail space adding to the offering of community amenities. The new space also speaks to a commitment to attract and retain a high-quality workforce. 

Over its 106-year history, EMC has been an integral part of numerous community initiatives including Downtown housing, placemaking enterprises akin to the Western Gateway, development of the new convention center hotel and a leader in the new multimillion-dollar streetscape on Walnut. Far beyond these recent examples, EMC continues to support numerous community organizations in Greater Des Moines — it is an investor in the Global Insurance Accelerator and a sponsor of the Global Insurance Symposium.

Clearly a great deal has happened in EMC’s 106 years in Downtown DSM. Look at what it has accomplished in the past three years. Now, with the completion of the new building, look for great things to happen in the future.

Interested in learning about recent development projects throughout Des Moines? Learn more here.

Tim Leach

Tim Leach is the former senior vice president of downtown development for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, where his duties include business retention, expansion and attraction. He has been involved in economic development for over 20 years. His experience includes community development for a rural Iowa community, extensive economic development work for a public utility and now works on the continued development of Iowa's largest Downtown.