Des Moines International Airport, Future Ready Des Moines and downtown Des Moines are all on the list of Greater Des Moines Partnership strategic priorities for 2020, leaders announced at its annual dinner on Wednesday. 

“Some of the things that we're most proud of [from 2019] are the strategic priorities around the building of place,” said 2019 Partnership board Chair Kathryn Kunert, who is vice president of economic connections and integration at MidAmerican Energy Co. “And I think one of the things that highlights that is the water trails project. … That's a project that really encompasses the region, elevates our space, knows no boundaries, and I think that's an amazing space that really puts us on the map. For generations, it's a legacy project,” Kunert said in an interview.

Tom Mahoney, chairman of the board of ITA Group Holdings, will serve as the Partnership’s 2020 board chair. He said economic development in 2019 will guide the work ahead in 2020. “We're one region, one voice; we do things together. We leveraged the communities, we pulled together businesses, and we pulled together local, state and federal agencies to really allow us to play above our weight.”

2020 strategic priorities include:

- Partnering on the advancement of the Des Moines International Airport project.

- Enhancing the vibrancy of downtown Des Moines through activation of the downtown riverfront and rivers.

- Demonstrating progress toward the Future Ready DSM “75x25” goal by increasing the number of working-age adults who have completed a postsecondary education experience aligned to industry demand. This goal, having 75% of these adults complete postsecondary education of some kind by 2025, is in alignment with Future Ready Iowa.

- Building upon momentum downtown through the creation of a long-term Downtown Vision Plan.

- Increasing support for minority-owned businesses in Des Moines.  

Many of these goals build upon priorities set for 2019. The priority to support minority-owned businesses has become of special interest as the leaders develop strategies to ensure Des Moines is not only welcoming, but inclusive to those who decide to visit or live here. Sustainability of those businesses will be a big focus. 

“If we want to grow our businesses, there's not enough Iowans to fill the jobs if you look at our unemployment rates and what's available. We need to be able to grow not only our economy but what our workforce looks like,” Kunert said about the priority. 

Workforce policy and advancements at the airport are also part of the Partnership’s legislative agenda. The Partnership is advocating increased funding for Iowa airports that support economic development, including the Des Moines International Airport’s proposed new terminal. That project still awaits key federal action to increase a fee on airfares that would help pay for nearly $500 million in improvements, including the terminal. This week a development group unveiled a proposal for a casino-hotel complex at the airport that could help fund the terminal project. 

The Partnership also announced its board of directors and executive board. In addition to Mahoney and Kunert’s roles, Fred Buie with Keystone Electrical Manufacturing and Rowena Crosbie with Tero International will be vice chairs. Mike McCoy with NCMIC will be the secretary/treasurer. See the full list of the 2020 Greater Des Moines Partnership board of directors and executive board.