By Kyle Oppenhuizen

Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, has taken over as one of the tri-chairs for Capital Crossroads. The announcement was made at today's second-quarter update at the State Historical Building.

 

He replaces J. Barry Griswell, who recently retired from the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. Byers, who joins Cara Heiden and Angela Connolly as a tri-chair, has been involved with the process since the beginning. Byers said Griswell recommended him to take over.

 

"I think the trajectory that we've seen, we'll continue to move forward with," Byers said. "I've been working closely with this project since Day 1, and I think you are going to see the exact same strategy going forward."

 

Byers said he's seen "incredible progress" in all the project's planning categories, or "capitals," and credits the collaboration of those involved with the process.

 

"It's a great exercise in what strategic community collaboration can accomplish, and the community working together," Byers said. "I think it's an amazing example of Central Iowa fighting above our weight and accomplishing great things."

 

That collaboration seems to be happening in multiple areas.

 

In particular, the Governance Capital is moving forward with a government cooperation project plan, working to get individual cities working together on some functions. In May, five teams met with city managers around the metro area to talk about five specific action plans, which included standardizing the metro fire code and developing a list of comprehensive and consistent right-of-way practices

 

It might not sound all that exciting, but working together on those functions can provide real cost savings, said capital co-chair Gretchen Tegeler. In a larger context, the capital is aiming to set a groundwork for cities to work together in the future, and making sure city managers and officials are having conversations with each other.

"The culture change is what we're aiming for," Tegeler said.

 

Another area of collaboration is happening in the Capital Corridor committee, co-chaired by Steve Zumbach and Iowa State University President Steven Leath. They have asked Des Moines Area Community College to hos a meeting of regional leaders in October as part of an effort to start bringing regional stakeholders together on a regular basis. Members of that capital also recently met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss opportunities for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to maximize agriculture and science opportunities in Central Iowa.

 

Meeting quick hits:

 

- The Greater Des Moines Partnership is putting together an attraction and retention Web portal to help market the region. People who are contemplating a move to Des Moines, new to the area or already living here will have a place to find things like community attractions and mentors in different career fields. The site's soft launch is set for late summer.

 

- On the arts and culture scene, Cultural Capital co-chair Mary Cownie mentioned that the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking the lead on developing an arts marketing plan to come out in September, and on developing a comprehensive community calendar for the arts.

 

- The Environmental Capital committee is trying to get an Urban Land Institute chapter started in Des Moines to help advance the Capital Crossroads and Tomorrow Plan initiatives.

 

- Bravo Greater Des Moines has hired a national search company to help find a replacement for MD Isley as executive director.

 

- Some Central Iowa passenger rail advocates visited with representatives in Washington, D.C., about the keeping federal funding on the table for another year for passenger rail, said Dave Caris, co-chair of the Physical Capital committee. The Iowa Department of Transportation is doing a study on how much a rail line from the Quad Cities to Des Moines would cost on an ongoing basis.

 

- Another display of collaboration: The Social Capital committee is working to develop a regional leadership council to bring together people from leadership organizations in the community.

 

- Four developers have responded to a request for proposal to the Des Moines Redevelopment Co. for a convention hotel near the Iowa Events Center. They'll be reviewed in August.

 

- Capital Crossroads will work with Market Street Services in 2014 to do a mid-project review and "recalibrate" for the second half of the process. Market Street consulted project leaders in the planning process.

 
- In light of last weekend's 80/35 music festival, Minnesota Public Radio's "The Current" blog wrote this piece that touts the atmosphere of the festival. The mention was a source of pride among those at the meeting.