Each year we get a pulse on key issues affecting the region’s business community from our audience of leaders. This is the eighth year the Business Record has asked for your thoughts.

We asked a variety of hard-hitting and lighthearted questions, but all of them help answer where is Greater Des Moines now and where is it going. Some survey questions carry over from year to year and provide a longer-term view. You’ll find comparisons to average responses from years past. Others are new this year, based on current events or trends in other metropolitan areas. 

How the survey works: In October, we asked for your thoughts and you gave them in the survey. The form contained a mix of multiple-choice, ratings, true-or-false and short fill-in-the-blank questions. We’ve compiled the answers and collected comments on a few questions. These are just a snippet of the answers we received; we’ll include more in future coverage. 

As always, we appreciate your participation with the Business Record and hope you gain insight from reading other perspectives. A special thanks to Dr. Teri Wahlig, CEO of ChildServe, who took the time to provide comprehensive analysis as our guest editor. 

– Emily Barske, associate editor

Agree or disagree: Greater Des Moines should have a light rail system for commuters.

Guest Editor Dr. Teri Wahlig: “A light rail system would be cool; however, unless we are solving a commute problem, this type of system may not be the answer. Des Moines has low population density; we simply are not moving many people from one place to another – yet. Light rail provides group transportation over a fixed route. I wonder if that may not happen via autonomous pod vehicles in the near future instead.”

Disagree. “Not large enough and a very light rush hour issue in our metro. What we need is a better North/South expressway or limited access parkway cutting through the area -- North/South travel is burdensome especially in the Northwest part of Des Moines proper leading north to Northwest suburbs.”
– Joel Hanson, president and founder, Hanson Commercial Finance & Consulting

Agree. “Bus Rapid Transit and Streetcar systems are mobility and economic development strategies that have been implemented in peer Midwest cities like Grand Rapids, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, etc. The region will need to consider value of these types of investments as we look to the future to maintain our economic competitiveness.”
– Elizabeth Presutti, chief executive officer, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority

I’m not sure. “It depends on where the routes are placed, and if they are connected to a larger commuter system including Omaha, Iowa City and Chicago. I don't believe the metro has the population or the financial capacity that allows a light rail system to be created yet.”
– Creighton Cox, manager of business development, Turner Construction Co.: Iowa

Agree. “Relieve congestion on 80/35 and 235 and provide reliable workforce transit. Needed from DSM all the way to Ames.”
– Drew Kamp, director of public policy, Ames Chamber of Commerce

Disagree. “I don't see that it would be used frequently. Our population and workforce are fairly decentralized. For this to work, you need people going from one place to another en masse. Commutes are short as-is in Des Moines.”
– Mitch Van Kley, controller, Iowa Bankers Insurance & Services

View all the questions and responses from the 2019 Leaders Survey