2016 Des Moines City Cluster Workshop Recap

See below for powerpoint, videos + pictures
Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Sponsors | Pictures

SUNDAY, June 26, 2016

5-7 p.m. Opening Reception

World Food Prize Hall of Laureates (100 Locust St)
Learn more about World Food Prize Hall of Laureates.

After Hours

Des Moines Social Club (900 Mulberry St.)
Hosted by:
Greater Des Moines Music Coalition: Founded in 2005, Greater Des Moines Music Coalition is dedicated to supporting and cultivating Iowa’s music economy for the purpose of establishing Des Moines as a nationally recognized music city.
Des Moines Social Club: The Des Moines Social Club is an innovative arts and entertainment venue located in a renovated, historic art deco Firehouse in downtown Des Moines. The non-profit provides a home for local artists, offers unique programming spanning all arts disciplines, and brings people of every age and background together under one roof — all for the purpose of using the arts as a catalyst to create unprecedented community engagement.
Courtney Krause‘s original music is achieving a captivating sound modernizing classic folk with sultry soul and rhythm. Musically captivating and filled with warmth, any person could fall in love with the music she makes.
Chris Ford is a Des Moines-based artist who writes and performs music under the name Christopher the Conquered. His life-long obsession with musical theatre, film scores, and the progressive songwriting of 20th centuries pop masters such as John Lennon, Randy Newman, and Harry Nilsson has cultivated in him the desire to make music that is both beautiful and really says something.

MONDAY, June 27, 2016

Location: Embassy Club (666 Grand Ave. | 34th Floor)

The first full day of the 2016 CEOs for Cities Cluster Workshop began with an early breakfast and opening remarks, followed by a day of programming — including a keynote speaker, panel discussions and city field trips in Des Moines.

Morning Keynote // Majora Carter

Urban Revitalization – America’s Hometown Security

Majora Carter is an urban revitalization strategy consultant, social entrepreneur, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster.  She is responsible for the creation & successful implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training & placement systems.

Panel: The Power of Cross-Sector Collaboration

Neil Britto, Executive Director, The Intersector Project, Moderator (PPT PDF)
Amy Celep, CEO, Community Wealth Partners
Denise Reid, Executive Director, Mosaic & Workforce, Tulsa Regional Chamber
Elizabeth Reynoso, Associate Director of Public Sector Innovation, Living Cities
Jeff Russell, President + CEO, Delta Dental of Iowa

Panel: High-Impact Philanthropy for Cities

Kristi Knous, President, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Moderator (PPT PDF)
Angela Dethlefs-Trettin, Community Impact Officer, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines (PPT PDF)
Brian Payne, President + CEO, Central Indiana Community Foundation
Dan Sharpe, Director, Community Leadership & Nonprofit Effectiveness, The Columbus Foundation

Des Moines, The Crossroads City

Honorable Terry Branstad, Governor, State of Iowa introduced by Jay Byers, CEO, Greater Des Moines Partnership

PART 1:  Our Story

“Anything good in Des Moines comes from public-private partnerships,” said Michael Gartner, a seasoned city change-maker in Des Moines, during a panel of Des Moines area changers who discussed hundreds of projects completed in the area through partnerships between public and private sector. The panel argued that money should be at the bottom of the list when making plans in your city because “there’s money everywhere for good ideas and projects.”

Panelists included Mary Sellers, the President of the United Way of Central Iowa, Andy Anderson, a Partner with Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and the Former Chair of Vision Iowa, Jay Byers, CEO of The Greater Des Moines Partnership, and Steve Zumbach, a Partner with Belin McCormick, P.C. The panel was moderated by Michael Gartner, Former President of NBC News.

            Discussion topics included Vision Iowa, a program created to assist projects that will provide recreational, cultural, entertainment and educational attractions. Vision Iowa is successful when partnerships between the private sector and the public sector have worked to build local support and financing for a project. Panelists also discussed leadership in the Greater Des Moines area and the nature of Iowans to put their politics aside and to work together to achieve common goals - realizing that one needs to be willing to compromise and work for the good of the community. Panelists also explored attraction of young talent to metros like Des Moines and efforts to make Des Moines and all cities places where people want to live.

PART 2:  Des Moines Rapid Fire

Des Moines is growing and changing in several core areas. On Monday, we got to hear from six panel members working on job development, artist support, mobility, economic opportunities, youth engagement, and water trails.

Alex Pearlstein, VP, Market Street (PPT PDF)
Market Street Services is a provider of community, workforce and economic development in over 160 communities and 34 states, including Des Moines, Iowa. Alex Pearlstein of Market Street Services explained that cities are at a crossroads with the rise of the “non-routine job, which is a job in which you are not doing the same thing every day at work; every day is different. Cities thus have to make a major transition from a routine job market to a non-routine job market, putting them at a crossroads.

One example of the work being done by Market Street is the Capital Crossroads Connection. In Des Moines, the Capital Crossroads Connection identified six target areas of job creation: finance and insurance, information solutions, health and wellness, agribusiness, advanced manufacturing and logistics. Des Moines has the opportunity to take this calculated information and implement it to improve their city.

Cities can also improve themselves through holistic analysis, focusing on talent, opportunity, and sustainability. In holistic strategy, one has to consider people, prosperity, and place in order to capture the whole picture of the effects of an intervention. Implementation of improvements is a team sport; this means involving a wide variety of stakeholders including lower and higher education, chambers of commerce, regional planning commissions, local governments, non-profits, economic development organizations, and more.

Justin Mandlebaum, Principal, Mandlebaum Properties
Mainframe Studios is coming up with ways to house and support local artists in Des Moines. Justin Mandelbaum introduced us to Ron, a comic book artist for Marvel who lives in Des Moines. Ron recently lost his art studio when his building was converted into 106 market rate apartments. He had nowhere to do his work, and there didn’t seem to be any other convenient space available.

The solution to Ron’s problem was found in a case study from Lowell, Massachusetts, where the Western Avenue Studios were built as a 235,000 square foot building housing over 300 artists in one place, making it the largest artist community on the east coast.

Before jumping into making accommodations for local artists, the question is, “are artists really worth it?” The answer: YES! In fact, arts and culture make up 4.3% of the United States’ GDP. So, yes. Now the missing link is affordable studio space. Mainframe Studios filled in that missing link. It is a nonprofit system, as the building was paid off when it was built, and all rent revenue goes toward the operating budget and the endowment of the building. This way, Des Moines artists have a comfortable place to call their work space.

Mainframe Studios has resulted in an increase in available space for arts performance, education, and incubation, a connection between community and culture, and promoting the arts to strengthen the community of Des Moines.

Larry James, Jr., Attorney, Faegre Baker Daniel
Vehicle infrastructure in Des Moines handles the amount of traffic very well; streets are rarely overloaded, and traffic hardly ever comes to a standstill.But where does this leave alternative forms of transportation?

In New York City, efforts to increase the prevalence and accessibility of bike lanes resulted in a threefold increase in the number of cyclists, a decrease in injury crashes of 63%, and no change in car volume or trip times.

In Denver, the number one thing tech company employees (mostly millennials) want is bike lanes. Weather is no excuse for bike-ability, as Minneapolis is the most bike-friendly city in the United States, despite its reputation for apocalyptic winters.

Once bike lanes have been added to the majority of city transit routes, the final step in improving downtown mobility is connecting existing trails with the last quarter mile before downtown areas. Making this area more bike-able will greatly improve the mobility of downtown Des Moines.

Elisabeth Buck, Chief Community Impact Officer, United Way of Central Iowa
The United Way has three targets: education, income and health.  The community education goal is to improve the percentage of central Iowa students who graduate from high school to 95 percent by 2020. The education strategies target school readiness, early grade success, middle grade success, and high school success. These strategies cover anything from preventative health services to improving instructor training to out-of-school programming. There has been about a ten percent increase in the number of graduates in Des Moines since 2008.

The community income goal is to increase the percentage of central Iowans who are financially self-sufficient to 75% by 2020. The income strategies target education and employment attainment, access to food, shelter and work supports, and financial stability. These strategies more specifically will focus on adult education, responding to urgent needs for food and shelter, and increasing individual financial management.  Thus far, 2,318 central Iowans have received financial coaching, 1,120 local adults have enrolled in high school completion programs, and 1,296 central Iowans have been placed in better jobs.

The community health goal is to increase central Iowa’s Gallup Well-Being Index score from 61.5 (2014) to 64.5 by the year 2020. The Gallup Well-Being Index is based on the World Health Organization’s definition of physical health, mental health, and social well-being. The health strategies target physical well-being, social and emotional well-being, and community well-being. More specifically, these strategies will increase healthy food access, reduce social isolation of vulnerable populations, create safe environments, and more. Between 2014 and 2015, the Well-Being Index in Des Moines increased from 61.5 to 62.6.

John Mark Feilmeyer, Art Force Iowa
Art Force Iowa focuses on engaging the most at-risk youth in the Des Moines area. They do this in a three pillared approach: art force, work force, and life force.  With art force, youth in the program are able to express themselves and feel empowered to effect positive change in their community. With work force, participants gain experience and life skills that will positively impact their professional futures. With life force, the youth have someone to lean on as they work their way through challenges.

Art Force Iowa has three primary programs: Creative Pathways (art programming for kids who have gone through the juvenile courts), DSM heroes (art programming for immigrants and refugees), and StreetCred Studios (work training for the underprivileged).

Art Force Iowa is different because they are not an open doors program; they only admit kids who are in difficult circumstances. Art Force Iowa is also different because it provides a unique leadership opportunity that these kids would not see otherwise.

Rick Tollakson, Des Moines River Trails
Iowa, despite its Midwestern, flat façade, has around 150 miles of rivers and streams. Iowans haven’t always engaged with their waterfronts, however. Parts of the problem, for example, are the incessant balustrades that create a physical divide between Iowans and their waterfronts. Another problem is the private ownership of the land in front of Iowa’s waterfronts; it is difficult for a task force to improve the entire waterfront. A last problem is deciding what to do with existing dams. The dams are an eyesore, and don’t serve any utilitarian purpose, but local kayakers have protested the possible removal of the dams because it would slow the speed of the water.

The Des Moines Water Trails Steering Committee came together to address the concerns of hikers, kayakers, and river admirers alike by facilitating ongoing dialog and collaboration between business and city leader. For example, they have addressed the kayaker’s concerns about removing the damsby adding strategic boulders to the rivers, which mimic the effect of the dams without being an eyesore. With the work of the Water Trails committee, soon Des Moines will achieve its waterway mission: “The water trails and greenways of Greater Des Moines will be a natural haven, healthy ecosystem, signature recreational destination, economic driver, and community focal point that welcome people of all ages, abilities, interests, incomes, and cultures to connect with their rivers, creeks and greenways.”

Des Moines Field Trips

  • Art + Culture at the Center of a City: Art has the power to inspire creativity and leverage broad-based community impact.  Featuring leaders and paths that have changed the cultural landscape to shape Des Moines’ business, economic and social future.
  • Architecture and Development:  Midwest cities will never have mountains or ocean-front property.  But today’s placemaking is more about multi-dimensional experiences, rather than simple vistas.  Explore Des Moines’ Western Gateway, an area cemented by a donation of more than $40 million in sculpture and the redevelopment that surrounds this prime location.
  • Talent/Workforce: Per capita, Central Iowa is the fastest-growing metro in the Midwest in terms of population, job and GDP growth. Like all metros, however, we have current and future talent pools that are un- or under-employed because they are not adequately prepared for today’s jobs and those of  the future. During this tour you will experience several metro area initiatives that are focused on improving our existing talent pipeline by aligning education and workforce preparation to workforce needs that support our regional cradle thru career campaign – EDGE 75×25 (Education Drivers our Greater Economy). The tour includes stops at innovative learning centers covering K-12 education through adult learning.
  • Innovation/Disruption: Each city has their own take on supporting the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem.  Visit locations in Des Moines’ East Village where startups of all sizes are taking off, and hear about their journeys.

Evening Reception

Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden (1716 Locust St.)
Learn more about Meredith Test Garden.

Click picture below to see all photos from the Reception on Flickr

2016 Des Moines Workshop Reception

After Hours: Full Court Press Pub Crawl

Hosted by: 
Full Court Press, Inc. was formed in 2000 by the owners of Buzzard Billy’s and three Buzzard Billy’s employees — seven guys who had a few concepts they thought might work in the great town of Des Moines. Since then they have opened nine bars and restaurants in metro Des Moines, each unique and uniquely popular.  Their establishments include: Buzzard Billy’s, El Bait Shop, Fong’s Pizza, Hessen Haus, High Life Lounge, Iowa Taproom, Mullets, Royal Mile, The Red Monk and University Library Café.

TUESDAY, June 28, 2016

Location: Embassy Club (666 Grand Ave 34th Floor)

The final day of the 2016 Cluster Workshop featured City Clusters presentations, an interactive break-out and City Cluster meetings + Report Outs.

Morning Keynote // Ryan Gravel

Author, Where We Want to Live; Founder, Sixpitch
Ryan Gravel’s new book starts with the premise that big infrastructure ideas can yield huge economic and social payoffs. With the spirt of Daniel Burnham’s famous “make no little plans,” Gravel shows how his concept for the Atlanta Beltline is changing everything there, becoming a model for how all metropolitan areas can achieve transformative change. The Beltline is the most important infrastructure project in the country today, linking rich and poor neighborhoods to each other and to transit, and sparking billions of private sector investment already, with tens of billions to come. Just as every metro area in the country adopted some form of belt highway, every metro will built a Beltline.

Cross-Sector Challenges, Opportunities, Successes

City Clusters present on cross-sector collaboration successes in their cities.

Cleveland’s 21st Century renaissance comes from a community development strategy clustered around competitive advantages in health and tech, arts and culture, and waterfront amenities yielding unparalleled neighborhood development.  Three of the Cleveland’s emergent neighborhoods are University Circle, home to the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and the Cleveland Orchestra, Gordon Square home to the Cleveland Public Theater, Nearwest Theater, and the Capitol Theater, and Downtown’s Northcoast Harbor, home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center, a new Convention Center and the Brown’s stadium.  Representatives from the Cleveland cluster will discuss how multiple anchor institutions in these districts are organized to create place-based outcomes of new housing, connected infrastructure, and experience driven new neighborhood brand platforms.  From University Circle on the city’s east side, to Gordon Square on its west side, to Northcoast Harbor at the downtown center on the lake, each neighborhood casts its own unique experience attracting new visitors, residents, and workers and, with it, an entirely new city experience.

  • St. Louis Cluster – Innovation Districts: Leveraging the Power of Partnerships.
    Hank Webber, Executive Vice Chancellor, Washington University;  Dennis Lower, President + CEO, Cortex innovation Community

In the Cortex district of St. Louis, 200 acres of unused industrial space have been converted into a booming tech district. The Cortex lies in the middle of the city in between the anchor districts of downtown and Forest Park.

Before the development of the Cortex, this area of St. Louis was faced with a lack of jobs, difficulty keeping young people in the city, and a deteriorating industrial zone. The one thing they had going for themselves was the fact that the Cortex was a completely blank slate—absolutely no one lived there or interacted with the space, making eminent domain a breeze.

To start, the folks at the Cortex developed a mixed use master plan, implementing the core ideas of live, work, play and learn. From there, they turned the industrial waste land into a promising tech district, offering customizable lab and office space for rent, proximity to world-class research institutions, availability of a highly-trained workforce, and access to venture capital.

Notable tenants in the workplace areas include Square, AB Mauri, Manifest Digital, and Boeing Ventures. Tenant presence ranges from start-ups to established companies. Other development includes numerous apartment complexes, and a brewery.

Next steps include strengthening the already existing core, and expanding the Cortex eastward.

  • Milwaukee Cluster – The Commons & Milwaukee Succeeds - Complementary Cross-Sector Efforts
    Michael Hostad, Executive Director, Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE); Marcus White, Vice President, Civic Engagement, Greater Milwaukee Foundation; Joe Poeschl, Co-Founder, The Commons

The average third grader in Milwaukee city schools lags significantly behind her peers across the state when it comes to reading levels. Only 16% of Milwaukee third graders read at proficiency. Studies show that a low reading proficiency in third grade can be connected to a higher likelihood that a student will drop out of high school. Milwaukee Succeeds made its mission to raise the third grade reading level in Milwaukee city schools, and thus, better prepare grade schoolers to be on track to graduate high school, to aspire to a professional degree, and to better integrate into the Milwaukee economy. Their pilot program achieved great success and aims to be implemented in 34 schools in the coming years.

The mission of Milwaukee Succeeds is to unite the community around a commitment

to support strategies that will lead to success for every child, in every school, cradle to career. Three goals work towards achieving their mission: 1) make sure students are prepared to enter school, 2) make sure all children succeed academically and graduate prepared for meaningful work or college, and 3) make sure that young people utilize post-secondary education to prepare for a successful career. These efforts are supplemented by an innovative partnership bringing students and business leaders together in Milwaukee.

The Commons builds on the progress of Milwaukee Succeeds and works to bridge the Milwaukee talent gap. The city of Milwaukee has 183,000 college students, but many of them are disconnected from the local business community and the skills needed by employers. The Commons fosters a growing innovation economy to bring students and the business community together. It fills the gaps in college business programs. It also fosters a startup culture and corporate innovation through an entrepreneurial mindset. Through its mentoring program, 130 professionals engage with a diverse population of Milwaukee students to boost the talent retention. The Commons engages a population that is 35% students of color and 45% women; 90% of students in the program feel more connected to the Milwaukee business community and 81% of students expect to stay in Wisconsin after graduation.

Panelists included Michael Hostad, Executive Director of Innovation in Milwaukee, Marcus White, Vice President of Civic Engagement at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and Joe Poeschl, Co-Founder of The Commons.

  • Greensboro & High Point Cluster  Say Yes Partnership.
    Walker Sanders, President, The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro; Rachel Moss Gauldin, COO, High Point Chamber of Commerce /Business High Point; Mary Vigue, Executive Director, Say Yes to Education Guilford

Greensboro & High Point have partnered with Say Yes to Education to form a national model on how to leverage private dollars with public funds to make a college scholarship available to every student, and to bulldoze the predictable barriers that prevent students and their families from seizing that opportunity. The partnership, which includes the school district, business leaders, government officials and local foundations, has raised more than $30 million in private donations on behalf of the Say Yes initiative. That money will seed a fund providing “last dollar” tuition scholarships to students from the community attending in-state public institutions.

  • Indianapolis Cluster – Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW)
    Mark Kesling, Founder + CEO, daVinci Pursuit; Corrie Meyer, President, Innovative Planning; Jim Walker, Founder + Executive Director, Big Car

Indianapolis is reconnecting its waterways through shared mission and shared measurement. Their goal was to create a ten minute walk and a twenty minute bike ride with target destinations along Indianapolis’s waterways. They created 13 committees, including a strategic steering committee, an aesthetics committee, and education committee. Progress happened with horizontal development along vertical waterways. The result? $31 million in development along the waterways in 2015.

Indianapolis pins their success on having conversations with people in the area, and involving them in the “sweat of transformation.” By creating their own space, in their own neighborhood, community members feel more invested in it. An example of the work being done in the waterways area is a stage built in one of the parks. The stage brought with it numerous concerts and events, which brought people to the area and generated revenue.

Indianapolis also pins their success on the fact that they worked to prove that they were making progress, not just making shell plans. This way, citizens can gear up for the exciting potential for their neighborhood instead of expecting the project to fall through.

Another great example of the work being done by Indianapolis is a series of movable art exhibits to and from different cities. This way, a variety of public art can be enjoyed by all.

  • Waco Cluster – Collective Impact to Promote Education, Health, and Financial Security.
    Matthew Polk, Executive Director, Prosper Waco; Malcolm Duncan, Former Mayor of Waco, Prosper Waco Board President; Brett Esrock, Providence Healthcare Network President + CEO, Prosper Waco Board member; Kristyn Miller, CampusTown Waco Program Director, Prosper Waco

The city of Waco, Texas is geographically situated between Dallas-Ft. Worth and Austin - the fastest growing city in the entire country. Home of Baylor University, Waco city change-makers work to connect students with the local economy and retain the professional talent of Baylor University graduates. According to a Community Health Needs Assessment, the Greater Waco area has the highest rate uninsured metro in the country. The community in Waco faces significant barriers in awareness and access to health care but public-private partnerships offer an opportunity to build a healthcare awareness and engage students at all education levels in building a healthier Waco.

Panelists represented Prosper Waco, an organization that consolidates efforts of existing nonprofits and community leaders to improve the quality of life of individuals in in the Greater Waco community. Panelists included Matthew Polk, Executive Director of Prosper Waco, Malcolm Duncan, Former Mayor of Waco and Prosper Waco Board President, Brett Esrock, Providence Healthcare Network President + CEO and Prosper Waco Board member, and Kristyn Miller, CampusTown Waco Program Director at Prosper Waco.

Panelists discussed the power of collective impact in the Waco area and how bringing together actors from different sectors into one organization, like Prosper Waco, can streamline efforts to make cities better. Their five components of collective impact are: common agenda, shared measurements, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone organization. Waco change-makers also discussed an innovative program geared toward younger students to instill a passion for healthcare which has expanded year after year. They also realized that retaining Baylor graduates could strengthen the Waco Metro region.

The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce started a program in partnership with Baylor University to better engage students with the local economy through internships and professional development. Baylor University attracts over 30,000 students and boasts 100,000 volunteers that yearly make connections with the Waco community and radiate an idea to love, serve, and to work in Waco.


Closing Luncheon // City Cluster Meetings + Report-outs

Overview of the Columbus, Ohio National Meeting September 27-29
Dan Sharpe, Director, Community Leadership & Nonprofit Effectiveness, The Columbus Foundation
Kelley Griesmer, Director of Special Projects, The Columbus Foundation

Following the presentation by Dan and Kelly, Clusters will meet to identify takeaways from the workshop and to determine next steps in their cities. If you are not from a Cluster city please join Lee Fisher at his table.

Closing Remarks

Special Thanks to All Our Generous Sponsors


Greater Des Moines Partnership
Des Moines Planning Committee

Delta Dental
MPO Initiative
Iowa Arts Council | Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Bravo Greater Des Moines
Catch Des Moines
Community Foundation Greater Des Moines
Market St.

Event Pictures