Curtis Brown, who has guided economic development efforts since 2007 for the city of Ankeny, has been named economic development director for the city of Urbandale, effective April 8.

Urbandale joins other Greater Des Moines cities that have decided to direct the commercial growth of their communities from inside city hall.

After years of discussion, Urbandale contracted several years ago with the Urbandale Development Association in an effort to promote the city’s efforts to recruit businesses, and provided space for the group’s director at Urbandale City Hall.

The city will continue to work with the 39-year-old organization and other regional development groups, but its efforts will be focused from within, said City Manager A.J. Johnson.

“Over the past several years, the city has systematically developed an aggressive approach to economic development, working in concert with regional economic development efforts. As these relationships have matured, the City Council has determined that this strategic priority could best be promoted by the city,” Johnson said.

Urbandale continues to press for commercial growth, especially along the Interstate 35/80 corridor, where about 1,000 acres of development land are available.

Johnson pointed that the city spent about $12 million on infrastructure improvements last year in an effort to be prepared for economic growth opportunities presented by the recovering economy.

Growth is happening. Residential permit valuations were the seventh highest in the city’s history and commercial permit valuations were the second highest.

“We think we’re positioned extremely well,” Johnson said.

Brown, 37, recently was recognized as a Business Record Forty Under 40.

Rather than go on a recruiting trip to bring new companies to the area, Brown said he plans to build relationships with existing businesses.

“That’s been proven to work,” he said.