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DSM USA Policy HQ - Public-Private Partnerships

DSM USA Policy Headquarters

October 19, 2020


The DSM USA Policy Headquarters podcast is a monthly conversation between experts on public policy topics impacting business and the relationship between government and the private sector. 

In this episode, the podcast covers public-private partnerships, also known as P3s, and highlights  the relationship between government and business in economic development, infrastructure projects and entrepreneurial efforts. Tej Dhawan, chief data officer at Principal Financial Group and local entrepreneur, and Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA), join the podcast to discuss building partnerships within Iowa and the Greater Des Moines (DSM) community. 

Public-Private Partnerships in Iowa 


Director Durham explains when she was initially appointed, her first task was to eliminate the Iowa Department of Economic Development and create a new authority. This included setting up a private sector arm through the Iowa Innovation Corporation, a business with the ability to raise funds and amass equity. As director of IFA, Durham says it is structured to be a separate instrument of the state and is completely self-sufficient. With IEDA and IFA under the same leadership, they are truly embracing both the private and public sectors to deliver resources in a much more strategic way. 

For Dhawan, who started and ran a tech business through 2010, he says he had never heard of the concept of a public private partnership. It was only after getting involved with the Greater Des Moines Partnership and IEDA in 2011 that he became familiar with the idea. He says it is not only local government partnerships with the state, but with Polk County and the City of Des Moines becoming involved along with The Partnership coming together to launch the DSM entrepreneurial community. 

Government’s Role in Business


Dhawan says that every person around the country told him, in the beginning, that government had no place at the table and the advice was to remain completely private. In Iowa, things were being done differently. The state was offering venture capital items and meaningful items that helped new companies grow and local businesses are benefiting immensely. This was the Iowa way and with that spirit and under the director of Director Durham, the state continues to serve as a leader of best practices and find success from public-private partnerships.  

The DSM USA Policy Headquarters podcast focuses on public policy topics impacting business and the relationship between government and the private sector. Join us each month to hear from local Greater Des Moines (DSM) experts. To listen to more Partnership podcasts, click here