Marty Martin | President, Drake University
The Idea: For the good of the entire city, the Drake Neighborhood needs revitalization ― and Drake has the opportunity to do just that in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
The relationship between Des Moines and Drake University is powerfully symbiotic. Des Moines is experiencing tremendous economic growth, supported by the over $400 million in annual economic impact and nearly 3,400 jobs fueled by Drake.
Des Moines is stronger because it has Drake University, and Drake University is able to thrive because its home is Des Moines.
Drake University is committed to being an even more positively impactful presence in our neighborhood and our city than we have been in the past. We fully embrace our responsibility to do what we can ― consistent with mission, competencies and resources ― to make our neighborhood and city a better place to live and work.
The Burt Boys and Girls Club at Drake that will open next summer is a wonderful example of our commitment to this place and its people. Moreover, we are not stopping there. Among other projects that we are actively working on along the University and Forrest Avenue corridors, Nelson Construction and Development will break ground in the spring on a new hotel with dining and retail right across the street from Old Main.
All of this activity will enhance campus and neighborhood life, create local jobs, and encourage others to see the Drake Neighborhood as their next home or place of business.
The virtuous circle that has been sparked by Drake re-energizing our commitment to our neighbors is poised to be supercharged. Two census tracts that surround the Drake campus have been designated Federal Opportunity Zones, thus making new investments into these areas eligible for preferential tax treatment.
Additionally, the city of Des Moines has launched a $4.5 million neighborhood development pilot program that will facilitate buying nuisance properties, demolishing decaying homes and making other revitalization improvements. The Drake Neighborhood is one of four included in the pilot.
The combination of Drake University as an anchor institution, the Federal Opportunity Zone designations, and the city of Des Moines neighborhood revitalization plan offers a once-in-a-generation confluence of need meeting opportunity.
For the good of the entire city, the Drake Neighborhood needs revitalization ― and we have the opportunity to do just that in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago. Over the next 10 years we can enhance public transportation, improve our streetscapes, foster new businesses, rehabilitate historic structures and build improved housing that meets the needs of all of our neighbors. All it takes from us is to be bold enough to turn this opportunity into reality. >