Meeting Interview: Jay Byers - CEO, Greater Des Moines Partnership

At our National Meeting next month, Jay Byers - CEO for the Greater Des Moines Partnership - will participate in the City Success Stories Lightening Round. He will share how the Partnership serves more than 4,700 businesses and 20 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce in Central Iowa. He recently took some time to answer a few questions that will help us get to know him before next month's meeting.

Tell us a little bit about your work.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization serving Central Iowa.  Together with 20 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce and 4,700 business members which employ a workforce of more than 150,000,the Partnership works to grow opportunity, create jobs, and promote the best place to build a business, a career and a future.

How has intentional collaboration with cross-sector leaders aided your work?

Capital Crossroads, our current ongoing regional vision plan, has engaged a diverse group of 50 individuals from across Central Iowa to serve on the Steering Committee.  The Committee invited public input on ways to improve the Central Iowa region, covering a 50-mile radius from the State Capitol.  More than 5,000 local voices contributed to…


Community Spirit Matters

Community spirit matters. It brings us together to accomplish big goals and overcome serious challenges. What is amazing is that community spirit is often grounded in the smallest actions. Actions like talking with neighbors, eating with family and friends, exchanging favors, and other random acts of kindness. These acts create the social connections necessary to solving big problems and maintaining a healthy democracy. 

The National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) is an organization dedicated to growing America’s community spirit. For 69 years, NCoC’s Annual Conference has been a must attend event for community builders searching for new ways to engage their neighbors and create positive change. Given the current social and political polarization, the need for this Conference couldn’t be greater.

Leaders from the nonprofit, private, open data, and technology sectors will converge at the Conference to share best practices and uncover innovate civic engagement strategies. There will be high-quality Learning Summits, panels, and networking receptions – all chances to bolster our own community spirit and take on the issues facing our field.

We hope to see you on Sept. 19-20 at the 2013 National Conference on Citizenship.


Engagement Through Arts

Ideas, connections and innovation are the ultimate resources in today’s world. Figuring out how we can facilitate these very things to bolster the cultural and creative capital of a city is critical.


The Transformation of Space into Place

Photo from The Atlantic Cities

The transformation of spaces into creative and vibrant places is a current trend in the 21st century. The Internet is full of success stories detailing how cities, in their quest to find distinctiveness, have rediscovered assets of built and physical environments. With these strong and conscious efforts, significant improvements to the livability of whole communities follow. Common to these success stories is placemaking.

In the process of making place it becomes increasingly important to understand how people fit into civic design. And to understand how, it is important to realize the tendency for a built environment to turn its back on people. In order to transform space into place, the connection between people and their built environments must be re-established.


Cisco’s Smart+Connected Communities: Preparing for an Urbanized World

Photo from The International Society for Presence Research

Corporations are finding themselves in an increasingly globalized and urbanized world. As the world's population continues to migrate to urban centers, these corporations realize they have to adjust to meet this shift. Cisco created its “Smart+Connected Communities” initiative to address the challenges associated with the global urban shift. These challenges include overcrowding, pollution, budget and resource constraints, inadequate infrastructures, and the need for continuing growth.

Anil Menon became the president of Cisco's Smart+Connected Communities (S+CC) in March 2009. Since then, he has consistently worked to bring together people, services, community assets, and information using intelligent networking capabilities. By bringing community leaders together, it is easier to address the challenges and create a more sustainable environment. Anil leads a cross-Cisco team focused on services-led solutions in safety and security, energy, real estate, and transportation.


Anchoring Success in the Urban Core

Photo from flickr user JohnE777

City leaders and developers have started to pay greater attention to the types of institutions that wield significant influence as employers, purchasers of goods and services, and sources of creativity and innovation.  Influential “anchor institutions” have the power to transform a region.  Anchor institutions differ from traditional institutions because they never move and are highly motivated to invest in place.  These anchors include some of the fastest growing organizations with major real estate holdings concentrated in the urban core: colleges and universities, hospitals, art centers, public utilities, and even professional sports franchises.  With the decline in investments from government and businesses alike, anchor institutions have become desirable sources for leadership and development in city cores.



Terroir and the Distinct City

Photo from flickr user Bernt Rostad

Craft beer has recently boomed in popularity across the United States with unique ingredients taking main stage. Often a brewery utilizes local ingredients and easily recognizable regional favorites for flavoring. Terroir, a term generally reserved for wines and cheese in the past, refers to the idea of tasting the flavors of a locality, and is becoming a main focus in the craft brewery world.


Youngstown: A Shrinking City with Big Ideas

Photo from Model D Media

The city of Youngstown, Ohio has learned to embrace its shrinking population by downsizing its infrastructure.  The Youngstown 2010 Plan, originally created in 2005 as a joint vision between the City of Youngstown and Youngstown State University, calls for sweeping changes in the city’s land use.  Since the plan was implemented, the crime rate has fallen and businesses are once again starting to invest in Youngstown.  There is still much improvement to be made in Youngstown, but this plan could serve as a model for other larger Rust Belt cities.


Re-Imagining America through the Lens of Municipal Innovation

Photo from CNNMoney

Rising out of the depths of the Great Recession, we are living in turbulent and fiscally uncertain times.  We’re trapped between employment and financial uncertainties, and an ever-widening knowledge and skills gap.  In spite of this perplexing narrative, one piece of the story has remained consistent: skepticism of the usefulness and effectiveness of government is on the rise.  The public is not happy with the public sector.  But Americans are rethinking what is no longer working; many have figured out that the directional nature of change does not have to be the traditional top-down flow from Washington to states to localities.  City governments across the country are realizing they cannot afford to wait for Washington to make change. Through municipal innovation cities have become the drivers and incubators of social change and better governance.  And by sharing their innovative ideas and success stories, cities everyday are paving the way for greater change across America.


Historic Preservation and the Identity of a City

Photo from flick user JasonParis

Every city has its own unique identity.  This identity is embodied in its citizens and also its buildings.  For example, Boston is defined by its narrow winding streets and historic brick colonial buildings; and New Orleans is defined by its multiculturalism and unique French architecture.  Architecture is a physical representation of the history of a city, and a city’s history is perhaps the most important aspect of its identity.  Historic preservation does not only mean preserving old buildings, but means preserving the entire identity of a city. Read More.