Friday, September 9, 2011

Greater Des Moines Unveils Its Vision

At a press conference last Wednesday at Des Moines’ lovely botanical center, regional leaders rolled out their comprehensive Capital Crossroads vision plan, a five-year strategic blueprint to take Central Iowa to even greater levels of success. Yours truly managed the process for Market Street and had the privilege of working on a strategy for the first time in my community of residence. While this proximity and accessibility led to a couple additional “meetings over coffee” than most projects, that wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, it was a wonderful experience being able to meet so many stakeholders with such strong passion for this region. My wife and her friends eventually got tired of being treated like “focus group participants” for eight months.

As Greater Des Moines has continued to show up near the top of one “best place” list after another, the economic development world is starting to take notice of the region. A number of our Midwestern clients now ask to be benchmarked against the Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area. If I were to pinpoint an aspect of Des Moines and Central Iowa that has fueled this ascent, I would have to say it’s the quality of the leadership. I was continually impressed by the “big-picture” perspective of the public and private leaders here. Market Street often found its “gospel” of holistic economic and community development being pitched back to us as we moved through the planning process. I learned a lot from the folks in Des Moines about the dynamics of leadership and how it impacts economic development planning. Our principal client contacts in the process – the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines – were also exemplars of professionalism and productivity.

Thankfully, the Capital Crossroads plan has been well received. Both the Des Moines Register and Des Moines Business Record  have provided positive coverage of the strategy. This is lucky for me, because if the plan was a bust I have nowhere to hide. There’s nothing worse than seeing one of your Steering Committee chairs in Caribou Coffee and having to dive under a table to hide. Or having to go to an Iowa Cubs game in full disguise. I also look forward to a front-row seat to see the Crossroads plan implemented. A regrettable aspect of Market Street’s line of work is that we don’t often get to see our client communities put a plan into action first hand. So Capital Crossroads will definitely be the gift that keeps on giving for me. Every few blogs or so, I’ll try to unwrap it and share some details and perspectives on how things are going. Stay tuned.