Grimes taxable retail sales revenues grew a whopping 347 percent from 2007 to 2012. That compares to an 8 percent average for Greater Des Moines. Last year, the Business Record profiled Grimes as leading the Des Moines area in terms of homebuilding recovery out of the Great Recession. Grimes recorded  a 280 percent increase in building permits, far outpacing other suburbs, many of which continued to experience less home construction than in 2007. 

“We’ve got kind of a unique thing going on,” said Brian Buethe, executive director of Grimes Chamber & Economic Development.

WHY:

Gerry Neugent, president and chief operating officer of Knapp Properties Inc., a major developer in the city,  said three factors contribute to Grimes’ retail sales growth. 

1. Improvements to Iowa Highway 141, which connects the city to the rest of the metro area and to Interstate 35/80.  
2. The city’s population is growing rapidly. Grimes is expected to triple its population to more than 27,000 people by 2030. Buethe said that population growth will attract even more commercial and retail development.
3. “The city has really evolved into being a very pro-growth city,” Neugent said. 

WHAT THE CITY DID: 

For Grimes, pro-growth means a willingness to work with development companies to find creative solutions, Neugent said.  Example:  Knapp Properties owned the land east of Highway 141 where Wal-Mart Stores Inc. built its Supercenter store in 2010. Knapp and others wanted a traffic signal installed on the Highway just south of the Wal-Mart at Southeast 11th Street in order to help traffic access the adjacent developments. The city took the lead to work with developers and the Iowa Department of Transportation to figure out a way to finance the light, Neugent said.

“They look for ways to get stuff done,” Neugent said. “Years ago, they were kind of more of a sleepy little town. But they have embraced growth and aren’t  afraid to work with tools that are available to cities.”

WHAT BUSINESSES/DEVELOPERS DID:

Adding the Wal-Mart in 2010 contributed to a 177 percent growth in Grimes’ taxable retail sales revenue between fiscal years 2010 and 2011. Knapp Properties, Hubbell Realty Co. and Gene Gabus, who moved his Toyota dealership from Des Moines to Grimes, also have contributed to commercial growth. Also “a strange mix of unanticipated businesses” related to entertainment have popped up in Grimes, said Buethe, including the MB2 Raceway go-karting facility, Sky Zone, Climb Iowa and several dance and gymnastics studios. Construction companies such as Premier Concrete Pumping LLC and Servepro moved there, adding to the area’s commercial growth.

WHAT IS PREDICTED: 

Buethe believes Highway 141 will fill in quickly with businesses as Grimes grows. City officials will be challenged to update Grimes’ infrastructure with a relatively small tax base. 

“We just have to prioritize and try to do the best (projects). So when developers come to us, we really have to be careful on how far, as a community, we commit ourselves.”

Grimes By the Numbers

28% Annualized yearly growth in retail sales revenues, FY2007-FY2013

15% Population increase from 2007-2012

39% Commercial share of Grimes total property valuation in FY2012

46% Commercial share of Grimes total property valuation in FY2007