Readers' Favorite Stories in 2013

Business Record readers in 2013 liked articles that could help them deal with how to comply with new health care law requirements, stories about downtown redevelopment and occasionally stories that weren’t strictly about business topics.

Thanks to Google Analytics, editors now can see which articles are attracting the most readers. It’s part of my job to judge which stories are going to be interesting to readers, but I have to admit that I was surprised by our list of top five stories. Maybe you will be too. Here, David Letterman-style, are the five most-read articles from

5. Crate and Barrel pops up

We like to think of the Business Record franchise as news to help businesses do business better. But let’s face it; all people are consumers in some aspect of their lives. Apparently, a lot of you were pretty excited about Megan VerHelst’s Sept. 6 e-newsletter article about Crate and Barrel opening a holiday pop-up store in Jordan Creek Town Center.

4. Downtown revitalization

Des Moines Redevelopment Co.’s property swaps to create a new round of revitalization in downtown Des Moines have been going on for more than a year, and reporter Kent Darr kept our readers abreast of that story. His Oct. 11 cover story summing up the deals and dealmakers drew a lot of readers online. It didn’t hurt that Bill Knapp, a local real estate icon, agreed to pose for the Business Record cover photo.

3. Private health care exchanges

Complying with new rules of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act consumed business leaders’ time and attention this year, and Business Record health and wellness reporter Joe Gardyasz took on the mission of explaining the complicated health care overhaul rules so that businesses could act on them. Third on our list of most-read stories was his March 22 story “What’s next: private health care exchanges.” 

2. Aviva bought by Athene

Joe also had top billing with two of several articles he wrote about Athene Holding Ltd.’s purchase of West Des Moines-based Aviva USA. The complex $1.8 billion deal made Athene the second-largest U.S. issuer of indexed annuities. It also kept Aviva USA’s 1,800 employees in suspense about whether they would be able to keep their jobs as Athene blended two operations. State insurance regulators also were watching the deal closely, and Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhardt eventually approved the sale. 

1. Expanding Jack Trice Stadium

And lastly, there must be a lot of Cyclones fans in business in Greater Des Moines, because the most-read article on was Kyle Oppenhuizen’s May 24 look at what it would take to expand the Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium. (Full disclosure: Kyle is an Iowa State graduate and a rabid Cyclones fan, but his curiosity about a stadium expansion predated the November announcement about the university’s plans to enclose the south end of the stadium.)

Reporters' Favorite Stories in 2013

Joe shares his recipe for favorite story

One of my favorite stories this year, both from the perspective of reporting and writing it, was a cover story featuring successful women business owners, the challenges they faced and programs that helped them. I enjoyed covering a particularly meaningful topic that seemed to resonate with a lot of our readers. Plus, the soul food at Pam Patton’s restaurant made for a delicious lunch while interviewing her there.  

– Joe Gardyasz

Enthusiasm for Alice’s Road is infectious

The Alice’s Road corridor in Waukee has its share of cheerleaders, but it would be difficult to find one more enthusiastic than Bradley Burt. Burt, president and CEO of Maid-Rite Corp., and his wife, Tania, own 138 acres near what will be the interchange of Alice’s Road and Interstate 80. I had trouble taking notes fast enough to keep up with Burt as he described a deal with Kum & Go LC that will be the first of what the couple believe will be a burst of commercial and residential activity on their property. If his energy and enthusiasm are any indication, the area will prosper. 

– Kent Darr

People make the difference in Des Moines

My top choice is the profile story I wrote about Tej Dhawan, co-founder of the tech company incubator StartupCity Des Moines. The reason: Quite simply, it’s our people who make this a good community in which to do business. Dhawan is another example of someone identifying a need in the community and stepping up to fill it. That’s what makes Greater Des Moines, well, great. 

– Kyle Oppenhuizen

Getting schooled - but in a good way

My favorite story of 2013 was the Nov. 29 cover story on downtown Des Moines’ restaurant scene. I set out unsure of where this story would take me and got the equivalent of a history lesson on the downtown restaurant environment and where it could be headed in the coming years. As someone who is new to downtown Des Moines, the story was a great introduction to the benefits of the central business district. 

– Megan VerHelst