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The Secret Behind Ankeny's Economic Success

Ankeny Miracle Park

March 5, 2018

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has taken great strides to be entrepreneur friendly in the hope of helping to launch the next Amazon or Apple. Ankeny, part of DSM, is no different. Our community is always looking for ways to help the next person launch a successful company. We have a Business Advisory Council with seasoned experts ready to provide guidance. We have an angel investor network and a long list of small business resources.

A Cycle Worth Repeating

These are great programs. Yet, I believe there is more to it than programs offered or connections to seed capital. Ankeny has a long history of supporting entrepreneurs. It started long before “entrepreneur” was an economic development buzz word. It has always been about helping the local business. This assistance takes many forms. Sometimes it is a formal program with local government support. Sometimes it is a simple introduction, lending a hand or spreading the good word about what they do.

It is also about having a quality community where business people can easily live and work. Years ago, Ankeny entrepreneurs looked like a Des Moines Area Community College grad with an ag chemical truck. Or a young company that had the crazy idea to open convenience stores selling gas and pizza in small towns just as other retailers were leaving those same towns.

Entrepreneurship Today

The entrepreneurs of Ankeny today look like scientists and engineers developing new plant solutions to help feed the world. They look like medical and technical professionals offering a new model for home medical monitoring and cybersecurity protection. The community has grown and some faces have changed but at its core, it is still about helping the local company do good and grow. Whether it is simply using their services, helping find needed capital or making a referral, the intent is the same.

The support provided to entrepreneurs of years ago has come back to the community 10-fold. Those entrepreneurs have since given back and reinvested in ways the community couldn’t have even imagined when they were small and struggling.

Yes, additional tax base was generated and far more taxes have been collected from those same firms. Yet, that was just the start of the community payback.

Private/Public Partnerships

Local business executives spearheaded the public/private collaboration to build On With Life, a state of the art treatment center for people recovering from brain injuries. Area developers, manufacturers and car dealers gave back to establish community parks like Ankeny Market & Pavilion and Miracle League Park and All-Inclusive Playground. Area businesses support our schools and help fund stadium improvements. They also provide jobs in growing fields. These reinvestments do more than help fund a building project. They have a multiplying effect on the community. Generations to come will enjoy these community amenities. They will help the next generation fulfill their promise in the hope that they too will help the next person build a successful business and keep paying it forward.

To be attractive to business investment it takes a strong talent pool and true community support. It is like planting a seed in the spring. There is no growth without rain and sun to feed and nurture it. Just like fruits which can nurture others and give back, the right combination of local support for business investments today will feed our future. I can’t wait to see the success stories of tomorrow unfold and give back.

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 15 percent below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life. Learn more here.

Joey Beech

Joey Beech is the executive director of Ankeny Economic Development Corporation. This nonprofit organization has supported area business development for over 50 years. In her spare time, Joey is an author who writes about personal finance and financial literacy.