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Pappaducas promotes Des Moines venues


Michelle Pappaducas sees major changes in her workplace every day as the sales and marketing coordinator for Polk County Regional Facilities. She was hired to do marketing for Veterans Memorial Auditorium and the Polk County Convention Complex, but now the Iowa Events Center is her responsibility as well.

Pappaducas grew up in Crystal Lake, Ill., and came to the Hawkeye State to attend the University of Iowa. After a bachelor of business administration from the school in 1990, she returned to Illinois. Then she tried to get a job with the Federal Reserve System, and the interview process brought her back to Iowa. The banking industry “wasn’t in the best shape in the early ’90s,” Pappaducas said, so she took stock of her skills and the jobs that were available. She returned to the hospitality industry, in which she had been working in since high school. Pappaducas was employed as manager of a downtown hotel when she heard about the job with Polk County.

“It was a position I was interested in,” she said. “[Vets and the Convention Complex] had so many annual clients that they hadn’t been looking for more. They didn’t even have the position until [the venues] came into the control of one department under Polk County in 1997.” Pappaducas was hired to expand the buildings’ client roster, and has been promoting both spaces ever since.

“I went from booking a little meeting space and lots of hotel rooms to booking lots of meeting space and no hotel rooms,” she said. Now the Iowa Events Center is expanding possibilities for Pappaducas, giving her the square-footage necessary to court clients she couldn’t accommodate before.

“I had formed relationships with them, but 11,000 seats in an arena wasn’t enough,” she said. “One hundred thousand square feet on two levels wasn’t attractive.”

Pappaducas says Hy-Vee Exhibit Hall and the Wells Fargo Arena, two buildings added by the events center project, will bring exponential growth to tourism in Des Moines.

“I love changing perceptions of Iowa for the good,” she said. “Des Moines is a thriving, growing community. Many people don’t realize all it has to offer.” If Pappaducas has her way, however, they soon will.  

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