Target Industries

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The 2010 Economic Development Plan Update identifies five target industries for West Des Moines based on the City’s current industry mix, emerging and growing industries in the area and nationally, and the city’s current key assets (e.g., advantageous location near a major metro area, a well-educated professional workforce, high-quality infrastructure, etc). They are:

Financial Services/Insurance (finance and insurance services, back office/IT)

Retail/Hospitality/Leisure  (full-service hotels, cultural enterprises, specialty retail)

Information Technology (software development, data centers) 

Life Sciences (specialized care, medical supplies logistics & supply chain, agri-based bioscience)

Advanced Manufacturing/Logistics (medical devices, global supply chain, equipment/components)

These industries represent a mix of export-oriented and local-serving sectors, all of which support primary wealth creation in the region. Focusing on these five industries plays to the strengths of West Des Moines, not just from a traditional economic standpoint, but also from the perspective of moving from what is achievable in each industry today to what can be achieved in five, ten, fifteen years and beyond.

Each of these industries has very specific industry requirements, including workforce needs, infrastructure demands, business climate preferences and other critical criteria that factor in to how companies in these industries choose where to locate. West Des Moines is positioned perfectly to capitalize on these industries.

 

Financial Services/Insurance

(Excerpt from 2010 Economic Development Plan Update)

Location Criteria

Location criteria are assets that are important to business in this industry when choosing where to locate. For the information technology industry, firms look for an area with an educated and highly technical workforce, a strong telecommunications infrastructure, access to financial capital and the presence of a research incubator.

Local Assets

Educated workforce with technical backgrounds

Areas with an established pipeline of young professionals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math programs will provide a deep talent base upon which to recruit and nurture high-impact and competitive industries such as IT. The population in the West Des Moines region has high levels of educational attainment (with data showing many with computer software engineering and system administration backgrounds), and access to higher educational institutions both in and near the city.                          

 

DMACC West

Located in West Des Moines, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) West is a state-of-the-art campus offering a variety of programs with a focus on technology simulation programming and academic areas in Business Information Systems and Telecommunications Technology. The West Campus has partnered with a number of technology-solution providers who rank among the best in their respective areas of expertise. The campus and center serve as a beta-test site for many of the partners which enables students the ability to not only use and learn on the latest equipment, but also to help develop applications and solutions in a variety of contexts.

 

Iowa Highway 5 Corridor and access to the Des Moines Airport

Because Information Technology (IT) service operations often prefer suburban locations with close proximity to larger client companies, West Des Moines offers a significant market advantage in terms of its position in a major metropolitan statistical area (MSA). Large parcels of land along this highway are of strategic importance because they can accommodate IT and other high-tech facilities including data center projects. The city sees this corridor as playing an important role in future IT-type projects and has property zoned for office, business park and light industrial uses to accommodate industry growth (although specific roadway infrastructure support will be needed). In addition, the highway’s connection to the airport is critical in providing industry managers and executives important air travel opportunities, which are increasingly important for this industry sector.

 

Grand Technology Gateway

West Des Moines envisions a technology corridor along Grand Avenue, turning north onto 105th Street, intersecting I-80 and continuing north to Hickman Road, where a future Team Technology Center is slated. The Microsoft data center is presently located in the Grand Technology Gateway.

 

Direct access to a large and growing customer base

In 2008, there were over 700 IT firms in Dallas & Polk Counties, over half of these were in computer systems and design related services. With a significant concentration of health care facilities and large financial service and insurance operations, a market exists for these services. Additionally, a number of major data centers have recently relocated to Iowa, including a $600 million Microsoft in West Des Moines, reflecting the City’s potential.

 

 

Retail & Hospitality

(Excerpt from 2010 Economic Development Plan Update)

Location Criteria

Location criteria are assets that are important to business in this industry when choosing where to locate. For the retail and hospitality industry, employers look for an area that has a growing population, high incomes and easy transportation access. The community should also possess a small business / retailers’ network and quality retail and commercial space available.

Local Assets

Demographics that support a growing market

A median household income of $66,500 and rapidly rising population make West Des Moines a perfect location for retail centers. Restaurants and hotels in West Des Moines not only benefit from high discretionary income and increased rooftops.

 

City serves region and national market

While the population of West Des Moines is about 55,500, the city’s daytime population is over 115,000 thanks in no small part to the 42,000 visitors and non-resident shoppers who come in to the city to shop, visit friends and family and conduct business. Jordan Creek Town Center has played a large part in transforming West Des Moines into a retail destination and other retail centers, both new and existing developments, have added to the success. The availability of retail and dining options attracts visitors from across the state as well as surrounding states. Many national hotel chains have opened locations in West Des Moines to accommodate the traffic generated by retail attractions; 2000 new hotel rooms went on offer, according to one source.

 

Small events support a local draw

The Historic Valley Junction commercial center is home to over 150 shops and restaurants and preserves the story of the city’s heritage. Throughout the year, Valley Junction hosts a weekly farmers market and a number of other cultural and community events, such as Music in the Junction. Other cultural and recreational events built around Jordan Creek Town Center and Raccoon River Park also provide opportunities to draw residents in from surrounding areas.

 

Robust infrastructure

The infrastructure needs of hotels and restaurants (highway access, available parking, cheap and accessible utilities) are critical to the performance of these industries, and West Des Moines has been proactive in working closely with developers to provide these services.

 

 

Information Technology

(Excerpt from 2010 Economic Development Plan Update)

Location Criteria

Location criteria are assets that are important to business in this industry when choosing where to locate. For the information technology industry, firms look for an area with an educated and highly technical workforce, a strong telecommunications infrastructure, access to financial capital and the presence of a research incubator.

Local Assets

Educated workforce with technical backgrounds

Areas with an established pipeline of young professionals with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math programs will provide a deep talent base upon which to recruit and nurture high-impact and competitive industries such as IT. The population in the West Des Moines region has high levels of educational attainment (with data showing many with computer software engineering and system administration backgrounds), and access to higher educational institutions both in and around the city.

 

DMACC West

Located in West Des Moines, DMACC West is a state-of-the-art campus offering a variety of programs with a focus on technology simulation programming and academic areas in Business Information Systems and Telecommunications Technology. The West Campus has partnered with a number of technology-solution providers who rank among the best in their respective areas of expertise. The campus and center serve as a beta-test site for many of the partners which enables students the ability to not only use and learn on the latest equipment, but also to help develop applications and solutions in a variety of contexts.

 

Iowa 5 Corridor and access to the Des Moines Airport

Because IT service operations often prefer suburban locations within close proximity to larger client companies, West Des Moines offers a significant market advantage in terms of its position in a major MSA. Large parcels of land along this highway are of strategic importance because they can accommodate IT and other high-tech facilities including data center projects. The city sees this corridor as playing an important role in future IT-type projects and has zoned property for office, business park and light industrial uses to accommodate industry growth (although specific roadway infrastructure support will be needed). In addition, the highway’s connection to the airport is critical providing industry managers and executives important air travel opportunities – increasingly important for this industry sector.

 

Grand Technology Gateway

West Des Moines envisions a technology corridor along Grand Avenue, turning north onto 105th Street, intersecting I-80 and continuing north to Hickman Road, where a future Team Technology Center is slated. The Microsoft data center is presently located in the Grand Technology Gateway.

 

Direct access to a large and growing customer base

In 2008, there were over 700 IT firms in Dallas & Polk Counties, over half of these were in computer systems and design related services. With a significant concentration of health care facilities and large financial service and insurance operations, a market exists for these services. In addition, a number of major data centers have recently located to Iowa including a $600 million Google project in Council Bluffs and a $14 million TEAM Technologies project in Waukee and a $600 million Microsoft in West Des Moines, reflecting the City’s potential.

 

 

Life Sciences

(Excerpt from 2010 Economic Development Plan Update)

Location Criteria

Location criteria are assets that are important to business in this industry when choosing where to locate. For the life sciences industry, employers look for an area with a skilled technical workforce with experience in healthcare, agriculture and technology-related research. Other assets that make a community a strong candidate include available venture capital, an institutional research presence and affordable lab space. Health services firms seek locations with growing and aging populations.

Local Assets

Adequate infrastructure and Iowa-5 Corridor

Adequate infrastructure is one of the most critical requirements for health service firms. Traffic congestion should not impede emergency service personnel, a major airport should be nearby for reduced transport time, and telecommunications and energy infrastructure must be adequate – all criteria that the City of West Des Moines currently meets. Although health care services must locate in every major market, affordable office space for medical specialists is usually desired.

The Iowa-5 Corridor runs along the southern end of West Des Moines and connects the city with the airport. The availability of land along this corridor combined with the strength of the West Des Moines office market makes this corridor an excellent future site for life science companies that may need flex space or lab configurations that are not currently available in West Des Moines. The Grand Technology Gateway which runs along Grand Avenue and 105th St. is another area in the City being developed with high-tech companies in mind.

 

Two new area hospitals

Mercy West Lakes Hospital is a $100 million project that includes over 80 beds and offers medical and surgical care, intensive care, obstetrical and cardiac services, a 24-hour emergency department, and diagnostic and ancillary services. Methodist West Hospital, part of the Iowa Health Systems network, is a 95 bed hospital offering a full range of medical care services. Both hospitals opened in 2009.

 

Growing and aging population

Health service companies are necessary in most communities. However, markets with a rapidly aging population or other special needs are particularly attractive to health care related businesses seeking an operating location. Economic realities have also forced many hospitals to consider area income levels in their site selection decisions. West Des Moines, with its rapidly growing population and high median income levels make it competitive.

 

 

Advanced Manufacturing/Logistics

(Excerpt from 2010 Economic Development Plan Update)

Location Criteria

Location criteria are assets that are important to business in this industry when choosing where to locate. For the advanced logistics / manufacturing industry, firms seek certain transportation assets such as proximity to airports and convenient access to highways, as well as strong physical infrastructure (e.g. available parcels of land, water capacity) in the community itself. To keep costs down, employers look to locate in areas with low labor costs and the availability of affordable utilities. A well trained workforce is also a major asset.

Local Assets

State, regional, and local tax advantages

The state offers zero property tax on new machinery and equipment for manufacturing and no sales or use tax on this machinery. There is also no sales tax due on electricity and natural gas used directly in the manufacturing process. In addition, West Des Moines has local property tax abatement programs and has worked successfully with the state to help industrial firms secure state job training programs aimed at the manufacturing sector.

  

Supportive infrastructure & available land

West Des Moines has the physical infrastructure to support the advanced logistics / manufacturing industries including a high-quality road network and access to rail and air transportation. The City’s infrastructure and central location open these businesses up to the greater Des Moines region, the state of Iowa and the nation as a whole. The City also boasts abundant, affordable energy and water capacity. Another business attraction asset is the availability of land, including large, undeveloped parcels along the Iowa-5 Corridor and the Grand Technology Gateway. However, given land costs, the city’s industry niche will be in the smaller advanced logistics firms and spin-off R&D and manufacturing firms with moderate land requirements.

 

Strategic Location

West Des Moines’ location within Iowa and the greater Midwest market is an excellent advantage. Iowa’s strategic, central location makes it a natural fit for manufacturing because of the ease with which goods can be transported to other markets. From Iowa, freight and rail shipments can reach vital markets like Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Omaha and Kansas City in just a few hours. The City also enjoys a superior location in terms of major roadways; being located at cross-section of I-80, I-35, and I-235 provides ease of mobility and access for businesses that need to ship their final product to other places in the region and nation.