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We Chose to Move Forward Together in 2022

Moving Forward 2022

December 29, 2022

As the year comes to a close, we have the opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made in 2022.  

In January, we will celebrate in person at the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s 2023 Annual Dinner. Erik Weihenmayer, this year’s keynote speaker, will share his inspirational story of living life with no barriers. Erik is the only blind person in history to climb Mount Everest. He has climbed all of the Seven Summits and kayaked the 277 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Erik is an author and founder of “No Barriers” which has a mission to help people face barriers head on to live rich in meaning and purpose.    

When I think of Erik’s accomplishments, and our community’s accomplishments in 2022 and throughout the last several decades, it occurs to me that sometimes the most growth happens through the challenges we choose. Erik didn’t have to climb Mount Everest or do any of the incredible things he has done; he chose to. Our community didn’t have to take on some of the major projects or initiatives that we have accomplished and moved forward. We could have stayed status quo, and our progress likely would have reflected that. Instead, we chose to take on those challenges that have led to strong growth in key metrics such as population and gross domestic product, and continued national rankings.    

We chose to make Greater Des Moines (DSM) a vibrant, welcoming, growing community.   

Investing in the Greater Des Moines Community

As a region, nation and world, we are still adjusting to the headwinds created by the pandemic. But DSM has not flinched. We have continued to invest in our community and ask, “what’s next?” As The Partnership’s 2022 Board Chair and a small business owner, I have been grateful to help take a leadership role in this process. Here are a few things we have accomplished as a Partnership and as a region in 2022.    

  • Worked on 32 business location and expansion projects, including Amazon, Andersen Windows-Storm door division, Apple, Aureon, Collins Aerospace, Dee Zee, Kuvare, Landus Corporation, Meta/Facebook, Microsoft, Weitz and more. 
  • Worked with regional partners to complete the Downtown DSM: Future Forward Vision Plan and Action Plan, of which implementation will begin in 2023. 
  • Worked closely with the Des Moines International Airport team on securing funding including $92.6 million in regional, state and federal funding. 
  • Assisted 12 companies with 1-on-1 company-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategies; presented a DEI overview and best practices at events that reached 67 companies and hosted the 10th annual Inclusion Summit that welcomed more than 400 attendees. 
  • Hosted the Future World of Work Summit with more than 115 people in attendance. 
  • The ongoing talent attraction campaign garnered more than 72,500 people to learn more about the region on The Partnership’s website.  
  • Continued to assist with and support the ICON Water Trails and Pro Iowa Soccer Stadium & Global Plaza projects, both of which saw significant progress in 2022. 
  • Hosted pop-up activations in Downtown DSM, in partnership with Operation Downtown, including the Great DSM Hot Air Balloon Hunt, Out to Lunch, Tweet Week, Downtown DSM Workforce Day at the Ballpark, Silent Disco and Hide & Seek Ornaments You Keep, the LAPS public art activation, the EXPosure public art activation, the “Borealis” light art installation in the Eighth Street viaduct, skywalk art featuring four artists with art in five locations and more. 
  • Hosted four marquee events in Downtown DSM including the DSM Book Festival, Downtown Farmers’ Market and Winter Market, the World Food & Music Festival and the Holiday Promenade in collaboration with the Historic East Village Association. 
  • Thanks in large part to the events and activations, as well as a number of organizations encouraging employees to work in the office, Downtown experienced an average foot traffic increase of more than 24% in the Downtown core during the Tuesday – Thursday period, and a more than 17% higher level of overall foot traffic in Downtown through Nov. 30 as compared with 2021. Overall, Downtown foot traffic is at 78% of pre-pandemic levels. Office occupancy nationally is only at 48% as measured by the Kastle Back to Work Barometer.  
  • Launched the Scale DSM Minority Business Accelerator that ran from June through December. The inaugural cohort consisted of nine businesses, locally owned, by individuals with minority status. 
  • Published the Iowa Innovation Dashboard to monitor entrepreneurial activity and capture the pulse of Iowa's climate for starting new businesses. 
  • The Downtown Farmers’ Market launched an incubator pilot program to host businesses and approved startups businesses at two special incubator-themed booths, providing new vendors an opportunity to sell their products alongside other Market vendors. The Incubator welcomed 29 small businesses throughout the season. The pilot program was so successful that The Partnership also ran the program at The Winter Market and the World Food & Music Festival, hosting six businesses at both. 
  • Led a group of 183 attendees to DMDC 2022, the first full DMDC trip since 2019. 
  • Began the ramp-up of the Capital Crossroads 3.0 regional vision plan to be implemented in 2023. 
  • The Partnership team formed a Downtown Child Care Task Force led by Ruan Transportation CEO Ben McLean to help build support and create a Downtown DSM Employer consortium, submit an application to the state for funding and identify a local operator for the proposed Downtown facility. Through the awarded $940,000, this consortium will focus on quality and affordable child care for employees of employers in and around Downtown DSM in a new child care facility.  

These accomplishments all happened while The Partnership was carrying out the Moving Forward Together 2027 Investor Campaign. Our Investors are the lifeblood of this organization. They have a seat at the table to choose these challenges, and these 2022 accomplishments are a testament to their work.   

I know 2023 will provide another opportunity for us to continue to move the region forward. We hope you join fellow business and community leaders at The Partnership’s Annual Dinner on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, to celebrate all that we collectively accomplished in 2022 and get energized to take on more challenges in 2023.    

Register at DSMpartnership.com/annualdinner

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 365 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.

Rowena Crosbie

Rowena Crosbie is president of Tero International and 2022 board chair for the Greater Des Moines Partnership. She has a commitment to help people challenge the way they think and inspire audiences as a top-rated speaker and trainer. Rowena is also co-author of "Your Invisible Toolbox."