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Growth in Urbandale's Tech Sector

Urbandale Tech Growth

September 5, 2019

IT Growth in Urbandale Fueled by Talent, Innovation and People

The tech sector accounts for 6.9% of total jobs in Urbandale. That’s 4.3% higher than the United States’ average of 2.6%. But that percentage is growing. In the past five years, Urbandale experienced 19% job growth in the tech sector, a number that tech companies can get behind.

So why is Urbandale outpacing the United States in tech sector jobs? Engaged community leaders, robust talent attraction strategies and a focus on service-oriented business practices are just a few of the reasons why this growing community is coming out on top.  

The Power of Partnership

A firm believer in collaboration, the Urbandale community recognizes the priceless value of input from their business leaders. Company and community leaders in Urbandale commit to working together to continue fueling growth in Urbandale’s budding tech sector.

Just last year, the City of Urbandale gathered leaders from the Central Iowa Java Users Group and the greater Urbandale community to discuss how cities can better support the tech industry as well as how technologists can give back to their own communities. But the City didn’t stop there. After hearing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations were a priority for tech workers, Urbandale took action to advance installation of more EV charging stations.

Urbandale also prioritizes supporting the next generation of technologists by collaborating with education leaders.

“The City of Urbandale does a great job of convening forums to foster collaboration between education and technology industry leaders,” Tyler Wyngarden, vice president at the Technology Association of Iowa, said. “The talent pipeline is enriched when these partnerships are built early on and education has the opportunity to react to changing industry trends.”

Urbandale eagerly seeks out opportunities to meet with tech companies or tech leaders in the community to listen to suggestions or recommendations for ways to improve the tech scene in the city. Urbandale recently took a look at bike lanes, trails and sidewalks in the city to determine where changes needed to be made to create an attractive community for residents and workers. One notable addition for the tech industry is the creation of a bike trail on Northpark Drive to serve increasing growth at workplaces like John Deere Intelligent Solutions Group, Lean TECHniques and Delta Dental. Building a sustainable industry takes time, but a strong partnership between companies and community leaders is a firm indicator of future success.

IT Talent Chooses Urbandale to Grow

John Deere knew the value of setting a foundation in Urbandale. That’s why they chose the city to build their new 134,000 square-foot building. This building houses more than 700 full-time ISG employees, contract workers and interns.

“It’s a pleasure working with Urbandale’s economic development leaders,” Laura Barringer, manager of quality supply management and facilities at Deere’s ISG, said. “There’s a lot of great energy and enthusiasm here as we grow for the future.”

That energy and enthusiasm is attracting talent from many places across Greater Des Moines (DSM) and the state of Iowa. Skilled IT workers are pulled in by new Urbandale spaces created with people in mind. The new ISG building includes amenities like a game room, open meeting spots and an in-house dining space to stay competitive with other tech companies throughout the country. R&R Realty’s latest edition to the Urban Loop, Paradigm, makes the office an enjoyable place to work with amenities like a rooftop patio and collaborative working areas.   

The modern exteriors and enticing perks may bring talented workers through the doors of Urbandale’s tech companies, but a friendly tech scene and an engaging community are the reason many put down roots.  

Embracing Human Connection in an Automated World

Company strategies often focus on how to retain and attract skilled workers to their organization but ultimately, company culture, ethics and mission have a lot to do with where people decide to work.

An IT worker who values relationships and innovation would be smart to consider a career in Urbandale, where people hold just as much weight as technology.

“We encourage teammates to find their passion, share it with others and provide leadership when they have the perspective to do so,” Amy Lindberg with Source Allies, an Urbandale-based technology company, said. “Our culture inspires each of our teammates in their pursuit of mastery and that has led to attracting and retaining top talent.”

Urbandale tech companies take a proactive approach to customer service by anticipating the needs of their consumers and seeking to devise solutions long before the problem knocks on their door.

“We continue to improve our existing products and develop new products that pay off for our clients,” Todd Skokan, president and CEO of Urbandale-based BirdDogHR, said.

Customer service and innovation are priorities for any IT company with a growth mindset. Focusing on the customer’s experience is a key way businesses in Urbandale maintain their client relationships. In fact, authentic human connections are how Urbandale technology companies differentiate themselves.

“We’re a software company that’s proud to help companies manage their greatest assets — their people,” Skokan said.

Companies like BirdDogHR recognize that the technology they create exists far beyond the intangible digital atmosphere. It resides in real places with real people who rely on that piece of technology to do their jobs.

[Read more about BirdDogHR’s history as an employee management software company.]

Source Allies also encourages their employees to consider the people their creative solutions will serve.

“Our team members have an ownership mindset. This influences why we take so much care with each solution we provide,” Matt Vincent, founder of Source Allies, said.

To stay competitive, tech companies have to innovate without losing their human touch.

Growing Forward

The growth in Urbandale’s tech industry shows no signs of stopping. Projects like Source Allies’ expansion of 20,000 square feet or IP Pathways expansion into a second Urbandale location continue to pop up. A common sentiment among tech leaders in the city is the intention to keep growing in Urbandale.

The numbers clearly show Urbandale as a front-runner for IT growth but the people living and working in the city are what strengthen the community and position the tech industry for future success.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has one of the best business climates in the country. The region is nationally recognized for having a talented and educated workforce, a cost of doing business 17 percent below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life.

Curtis Brown

Curtis Brown, CEcD is the assistant city manager and director of economic development for the City of Urbandale, Iowa. Prior to this position, Brown worked as the Economic Development Director for the City of Ankeny. He also held positions as the executive director of the Mason City Economic Development Corporation and community development director/assistant city administrator for Blue Earth, Minnesota. Originally from the Saint Paul, Minnesota area, Curtis resides in Urbandale with his wife Rachel and four sons.