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Chair's Column: DSM USA is a Global Region

A Global Region in DSM USA

September 14, 2017

At this year’s Greater Des Moines Partnership Annual Dinner, Partnership CEO Jay Byers made the case for Greater Des Moines (DSM) as a global region. As Jay said a few times that evening, “DSM sounds like a global city to me.” I agree.

There are many examples of our region’s efforts to celebrate our role as a global leader.

Accelerators in DSM USA

Just last month, we learned that Global Insurance Accelerator is the only U.S. finalist for the World Chambers Federation’s World Chambers Competition in the category of “Best Unconventional Project.” The accelerator was originated by The Partnership in 2014, and now has investment from American Equity Life Insurance Company, Delta Dental of Iowa, EMC Insurance Company, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Farmers Mutual Hail, Grinnell Mutual, IMT Insurance Company, Markel Corporation, Mutual of Omaha and Principal. Part of what makes the accelerator so unique is the fact that large, influential global companies in DSM and beyond have collaborated to support innovative startups.

The accelerator has been so successful that in addition to graduating 18 startups in three years, it also served as a model for the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator, which is currently hosting its first class. The Iowa AgriTech Accelerator has investment from Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Company, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company., John Deere, Kent Corporation, The Peoples Company, DuPont Pioneer and Sukup Manufacturing Co. Additionally, the Cultivation Corridor continues to put DSM on the map as a worldwide agbioscience hub, and is a key piece to our economic development efforts to attract foreign direct investment to the region.

Global DSM

Furthermore, according to research from the Brookings Institution, $2.8 billion worth of goods were exported from our metropolitan statistical area in 2016, up from $1.7 billion in 2003. To build on these efforts, The Partnership is working with the business community to carry out the Global DSM: Trade and Investment Strategy. This strategy was launched by The Partnership while participating in the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase. The strategy is a comprehensive global trade and investment plan that outlines a blueprint for how local business, civic and government leaders can leverage exports and foreign direct investment to increase global engagement.

That plan complements the Global DSM: International Talent Strategy, which offers recommendations on how the region can further attract and retain foreign-born talent to the regional community. This strategy was developed by the Immigration Integration Initiative Task force, made up of numerous business, civic, community and political leaders, in partnership with the New American Economy. From 2009 to 2014, the foreign-born population in DSM grew by 25.1 percent. The International Talent Strategy aims to continue that growth.

Major Events

This month, we celebrate the World Food & Music Festival in Downtown Des Moines (DSM), hosted by the Downtown Community Alliance, part of The Partnership. The Festival will take place from Sept. 15 through 17 at Western Gateway Park, and it will feature cuisine from around the world. Vendors will serve authentic food and drink from more than 25 countries. It is a true highlight of the global food scene that exists right here in DSM.

And of course, our global momentum was on full display in August in hosting more than 120,000 people at the Solheim Cup golf tournament, in addition to hosting another successful state fair, which has long been nationally and internationally recognized.

DSM sounds like a global city to me!

I encourage you to embrace this status. You have the opportunity to share our region’s story with the world by using our regional identifier, DSM USA. Use #DSMUSA on social media and sign up to be a DSM USA Ambassador to help The Partnership share the latest news about the region. Together, we can amplify our voice on the global stage. Go to DSMpartnership.com/about to sign up to be a DSM USA Ambassador. 

Dan Houston

Dan Houston is chairman, president and CEO of Principal and board chair of The Partnership. He regularly contributes to the Chair's Column.