SOURCE: Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Integer Group

October 10, 2013 17:31 ET

Central Iowa Announces Plan to Leverage Overseas Markets for Regional Economic Gain

DES MOINES, IA--(Marketwired - October 10, 2013) - Recognizing a need for greater diversification of Central Iowa's economy to remain competitive in the changing global landscape, area business leaders today announced key strategies to leverage overseas markets with an aggressive metro export initiative.

"Central Iowa's prosperity depends on international trade and investment, fueling economic growth, supporting good jobs, and raising living standards," said Jay Byers, chief executive officer, Greater Des Moines Partnership, and a chair of Capital Crossroads, a vision for Central Iowa.

According to the Greater Des Moines Regional Export Plan - Metro Export Initiative, a Capital Crossroads initiative, Central Iowa is well positioned for the retention, expansion, and attraction of jobs and talent. However, there is a need for greater diversification of Central Iowa's economy to buffer against the risk of future economic downturns. A key strategy identified during the Capital Crossroads visioning process is to grow exports from the region. 

To further this goal, the Greater Des Moines Partnership joined area business leaders and the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Program to participate in the ambitious Metropolitan Export Initiative (MEI), which aims to help metro areas refine their global trade strategies. Greater Des Moines competed and was selected as one of eight metro areas participating in the second MEI program year.

A local steering committee and core team worked with Brookings and U.S. Department of Commerce to develop a data driven export plan based on local industry clusters, economic development programming, and opportunity. The Regional Export Plan was developed to provide a blueprint for international marketing and development strategies designed to build and sustain a vibrant economy by connecting local businesses to new export markets and providing strategic advantages to small and medium-sized businesses wanting to compete globally. 

Key objectives of the plan are to expand export reach and performance by:

  • Increasing the number of identified exporters by 10 percent (45) over five years.
  • Increasing the number of export markets for local companies by 10 percent (19 new markets) over five years.
  • Increasing service sector exports with a focus on financial services and higher education.
  • Increasing exports by twice the rate of growth of the state's GDP by 2019. 

The Greater Des Moines Partnership will be forming an International Council to oversee the implementation of the regional export plan to reach those objectives by developing a regional model of export collaboration and coordination, marketing the Des Moines region for global growth, boosting service sector exports, and promoting Central Iowa as a leader in ago-biosciences.

As part of the export plan development, a robust assessment was conducted of the Greater Des Moines export culture. Key findings included:

  • Service sector clusters are prime targets to achieve gains in the value of exports. While financial services and insurance services are the top two exported services and major drivers of the local economy, many companies surveyed did not know their services are exportable.
  • An abundance of local exporters were either selected by a foreign customer or had other relationships that prompted their first exports. At least 450 companies have been identified as exporters in the Central Iowa region, and 3,231 companies exported from the state in 2011. Iowa merchandise exports totaled $14.6 billion in 2012. 
  • Active exporters often have a good idea of where their next international target market should be. Brookings trend data revealed values of goods and services already go to nearly 75 different countries.
  • Companies are forthcoming about their challenges exporting. Economic concerns regarding bureaucracy, costs, competition, and regulation are among the key issues to be addressed.

A copy of the full report, Greater Des Moines Regional Export Plan - Metro Export Initiative, is available at:

The Greater Des Moines Partnership, serving the counties of Dallas, Guthrie, Jasper, Madison, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, and Warren and over 4,700 business members from 20 regional Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, is united to drive economic growth with one voice, one mission, and as one region.

The following files are available for download:

Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:
    Greater Des Moines Partnership
    (515) 286-4950

    Media inquiries:
    Amy Baker
    (515) 577-7495