Greater Des Moines Partnership says foot traffic increasing downtown

Downtown Des Moines is bustling back as it approaches the third anniversary of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shutdown that emptied downtown offices, shops and restaurants.

Speaking to the Des Moines Register on Thursday night ahead of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s annual gala dinner, Tiffany Tauscheck, president and chief operating officer of the business group that promotes the economy of the region, said that the downtown walking 83% of what it was before 2019. pandemic level.

This is better than the central business district average of 72% recorded nationwide in a June survey by technical learning provider Springboard. A snapshot measurement of pedestrian numbers in the heart of his square in one of the most iconic downtowns in the United States, The New York Times, showed he dropped 67% in December compared to December 2019. was recorded. With nearly 40% office vacancy, it’s one of the busiest downtowns in the United States.

Still, there are things to do in Des Moines. The downtown pedestrian partnership measure attributed specifically to employees is 63.4% of his 2019 level. That’s a healthy increase of nearly a third over the past year, but he’s more than a third below pre-pandemic levels.

Mike McCoy, chairman of the upcoming partnerships committee for Clive-based malpractice insurer NCMIC, topped the group’s list of legislative priorities for 2023, released at a meeting Thursday. Closer to the top, he said, is to continue to drive downtown traffic.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the days most employees work downtown, Tauscheck said. Tauscheck said the partnership is investigating whether more workers will eventually return on Monday and Friday.

More about downtown Des Moines:From connected greenways to public art on the Skywalk, see 6 big ideas for downtown Des Moines

Partnership-backed events such as the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market, DSM Book Festival, and Holiday Promenade are part of an effort to encourage people to revisit downtown. Tauscheck also pointed to other events tailored for downtown workers, such as Out to Lunch, which is held at noon in the summer with Food His trucks at various downtown locations.

She believes the partnership leader wants to create “fear of missing out” so that people want to come downtown.

“What we do know is that these events and revitalizations and social opportunities bring more people together, especially downtown,” Tauscheck said. “Employees are looking for opportunities to connect with each other. They value that connection and the more we can provide these connections, networks and social opportunities, the more likely they are to participate. ”

Another effort the partnership is working on to bring employees back downtown is to set up affordable day care centers where employees can leave their children while they are in the office, she said. I was. A task force led by Luan Transportation CEO Ben McLean formed a consortium that raised $940,000 in state funding toward the goal.

Tauscheck did not provide a timeline for the effort.

“By having more flexibility, we can bring more employees back into the office,” she said. “One of those points of flexibility for her is being able to leave her child at a daycare center near her place of employment.”

Manufacturing and business organization

Overall, the Des Moines area has a lot to be proud of, according to partnership officials. Last year, companies invested $989 million in capital expenditures in the region, expanding 32 operations, said Rowena Crosby, president and founder of Des Moines talent-attraction firm Tero International. said to Those investments have created more than 700 jobs for her, according to the partnership.

When it comes to pitching Des Moines to businesses and professionals outside the region, the partnership will compete with big cities like Indianapolis, Omaha, Nebraska, St. Louis and Minneapolis, said McCoy and Partners CEO Jay Byers. said.

“We’ve outperformed all of these communities in terms of growth,” McCoy said.

“If they’re looking to the Midwest, we’re comparing very favorably,” Crosby said.

The partnership is creating a database of ready sites for businesses and manufacturing plants, McCoy said.

Byers said the partnership shares leads on businesses of interest with partners in 11 counties in central Iowa that the group represents. The partnership will organize the site by being close to interstates and other essentials, he said.

“These projects are moving fast,” he said. “The more options we have and the faster we can respond, the more competitive we will be in future deals.”

more:How to spend a perfect day eating, drinking, and more in downtown Des Moines

maintenance of talent

Another goal of the partnership is to launch a campaign called “Do Something Greater” to attract new employees to downtown Iowa and retain existing ones.

“Any business leader you interviewed would say it’s at the top of their list,” said outgoing chairman Crosby.

The metropolitan area, which covers Dallas, Guthrie, Jasper, Madison, Polk, and Warren counties, is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the Midwest. The Des Moines metropolitan area added 9,700 residents from April 2020 to July 2021, an increase of 1.4%, making Des Moines one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the country. I was.

“We have not been derailed during COVID, which speaks to the strength of the people here at Partnership and the leaders in the region as they have not lost momentum on many important things.” said Crosby.

Crosby, McCoy and Byers said last year the city tapped off on its “placemaking” goals to improve neighborhoods and make them better places for employees.

For example, Krause Group, owner of the Kum & Go convenience store chain. is building a downtown soccer stadium to house teams in the United Soccer League, the second division of American soccer.

Soaring construction material prices have delayed the stadium’s completion until at least 2025, but “it’s the number one sport in the world in terms of attracting talent and being able to retain talent, and having a professional soccer team, Byers said. said:

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for the new terminal at Des Moines International Airport this spring, which will be an essential tool for the business community, Byers said. , visited by 248,000 tourists in October. This is his first month since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when passenger numbers exceeded pre-pandemic levels. Last year, the partnership helped the airport secure his $92.6 million in state, federal and local funding for the new terminal.

“Airports are gateways to the world,” Byers said. “Having a new terminal helps position us for future success.”

Philip Joens is responsible for retail, real estate and RAGBRAI for the Des Moines Register. Contact him at 515-284-8184,, or on his Twitter @Philip_Joens.

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