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Why it matters: Civility leads to success


Editor’s note: In the “Why It Matters” column, which will appear in the Business Record once a month, Byers will provide commentary on topics affecting the region’s business community and give readers a behind-the-scenes look at why it matters to Greater Des Moines. 

Jay Byers

In Greater Des Moines, we have a long history of working together for the success of our community. 

Over the past decade-plus, the DSM region has been the fastest-growing major metro in terms of population, GDP and job growth, and has racked up a long list of top-10 rankings. We have completed game-changing projects in recent years including the Lauridsen Skatepark, the largest skatepark in the country. Work continues to move forward on other major projects including the Iowa Confluence (ICON) Water Trails, the Pro Iowa Soccer Stadium and Global Plaza, the Des Moines International Airport new terminal project, and many more.

This success is intentional, and it can be largely attributed to what I call the “secret sauce” of DSM: regionalism, public-private partnerships, vision and leadership.

Put another way, this success has happened in large part because of our ability to work together on common goals. We are able to focus more on what we agree on and less on what divides us.

In today’s world, we can find plenty to divide us, both geopolitically and locally. I recently attended a lecture by longtime political strategist Mike Murphy, who observed that we are now in an era when more and more people from both sides of the political aisle believe that “our side is right, and your side is evil.”

One of the strengths of our region is that we come together across party lines to work on common initiatives. We have worked extremely well together as public, private and nonprofit leaders across jurisdictional lines at the regional level to do things that we would not be able to do on our own. In the vast majority of meetings I have attended, there has rarely been a discussion regarding the political affiliation of those at the table. It didn’t matter. 

The only question that truly mattered has been: Is this good for Greater Des Moines?

Moving forward, we must continue to show that we can still come together as Republicans, Democrats and Independents to take on high-impact projects and help solve the biggest challenges facing our communities. There will always be disagreement on various issues, but we can work to show others that you can disagree without being disagreeable. 

Finding common-ground solutions can still be a win-win for everyone involved. Compromise does not have to be a bad word. This is why the Partnership is working with legislators to host the second annual Iowa Legislative Slow-Pitch Softball Game following the Iowa Cubs game on Sunday, June 4, at Principal Park. We encourage you to consider attending.

Recently, we took our annual Greater Des Moines Partnership trip to Washington, D.C. While there, we advocated for our federal policy priorities with one voice. While on this trip each year, I was energized by the spirit of civility and bipartisanship. Our attendees come from a variety of backgrounds, and come together to have important conversations for our region, regardless of whatever their personal politics may be. We have the opportunity to interact with our federally elected officials and their staff members, who are always willing to help us in whatever way they can. 

The trip is an example of what makes our region successful. 

During our 2023 trip, I challenged our participants, and now I challenge you with this call to action. We have earned national recognition as a top place to live, work and build a business. How can we continue to be a leader in civility? We must continue to step up and model the way for others moving forward.

I believe we can rise to the challenge, just as we have in the past.

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