Business leaders and government officials working on the Capital Crossroads long-term regional vision plan gathered at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden today to discuss the progress they’ve made in their respective areas.
The plan, which outlines ambitious goals for each of its 11 “capitals” or topic areas, spans across several cities and counties. Leaders will celebrate the completion of the plan’s first year in April. Here’s a look at some of the various committees’ achievements and goals:
Wells Fargo & Co.’s Scott Johnson, co-chair of the Human Capital, which looks at developing a skilled workforce, discussed the committee and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynold’s recent trip to Kansas where they observed a school that is a partnership between business and education leaders. Students from five different school districts attend the school for several hours each week to work on projects and initiatives for businesses. Dave Wilkerson, Human Capital co-chair and superintendent of Waukee Community School District, would like to implement a similar program in Waukee in 2014.
Physical Capital co-chair Dave Caris, vice president of state governmental affairs at MidAmerican Energy Co., gave an update on the city’s transportation achievements. He said that Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) has increased service by 13 percent, which is a result from adding two additional bus routes. DART is also considering expanding service past 10:30 p.m. and is still looking for a tenant to fill its retail space in DART Central Station.
Additionally, the Des Moines International Airport averaged about 2 million passengers last year, he said. Southwest Airlines route to Chicago is operating at an 80 percent capacity rate, and the company is looking into adding a route from Des Moines to Las Vegas.
Gretchen Tegeler, co-chair of the Governance Capital and executive director of the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa, said the committee is working to strengthen the relationships between cities by finding ways to share resources and costs. The committee asked fire and emergency service directors to meet, and the group identified the need to better share the cost of training and equipment- ladder trucks can cost around $1 million -- as well as making city fire codes more uniform. Tegeler said she’d like city libraries and police forces to take part in a similar exercise in the upcoming year.
Urban Core co-chair Tom Urban said the committee is working with food banks, including Meals from the Heartland and Meals on Wheels, to eliminate hunger in by 2015. Food banks have the ability to produce 20,000,000 meals a year to deliver to central Iowans, but the community needs to implement ways to better distribute the meals, he said. The committee also wants to expand English language programs and GED test locations to serve the growing immigrant population.
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