How we plan to make Des Moines Greater

Chris Conetzky | Publisher, Business Record

The Idea: Use the reach of the Business Record to create a platform that enables more voices to be shared, to present a more diverse set of ideas and solutions that we need to address the region’s challenges and opportunities. 

For 35 years, the Business Record has published a written record of the businesses and people striving to make this region great.

Collectively, our archives tell a story of having business and community leaders who give their time, treasure and talent. Their efforts built the foundation for the recent rapid growth of our region, and they are the reason we’ve been showered with national rankings.

That history is something to celebrate, something to preserve. If you flip the magazine over, you’ll find the lessons from the past 35 years, collected for future generations. In celebration of our 35th anniversary, we didn’t just want to look to the past. We wanted to look to the future, too. We are using this opportunity to launch “Greater,” an initiative that will leverage the Business Record to help make Des Moines … “Greater.”

What will Greater be? Why are we doing this?

In short, we are going to use the reach of the Business Record to create a platform that enables more voices to share  the diverse set of ideas and solutions that we need to address the region’s challenges and opportunities. We’ll do this in print, online at and through a series of events.

What you’ll read in this half of the publication is the beginning of our effort to make Des Moines Greater. You’ll find more than 75 ideas contributed by readers that identify community needs, and, more importantly, offer solutions.

Filling needs is the guiding principle of the Business Record. When I think about the role the we should play in the next 35 years, I want to help people intimately understand problems, then work to share the ideas and the solutions, and ultimately connect community leaders who can make those solutions happen.

The challenge we often run into is that it can be hard to talk about problems. Especially when there is so much success.

Success can be blinding. Rankings can mask certain issues and challenges. Nobody sends our newsroom a press release when a national publication ranks Iowa 43rd out of 50. For those in the “forgotten third” that Elisabeth Buck writes about, for those who aren’t feeling the successes the same way many in our community are, each new ranking, instead of being something to celebrate, can feel more like a sharp barb that serves as a reminder of the challenges that still need work.

We can only be better as a community if we know what we need to improve, and if we make sure we’re listening for solutions. I get the sense more people are listening. Greater will be a platform that makes it easier for the community to more comfortably identify the challenges we face, through the ability to propose solutions.

I think more people are sensing a need to improve because more people from more backgrounds have been activated, have the capacity, are following the lead of those before them, and as a result are inspecting our community from multiple angles. They are actively searching for ways to make every part of the community Greater. 

And becoming Greater likely won’t happen on the backs of a few, but rather it will come as a result of the inspiration and drive of the many. You’ll hear whispers of that theme in this magazine as you read a piece by Matt Anderson about enabling more doers for smaller projects. And you’ll hear it in Tiffany Tauscheck’s piece about channeling “new power.” And from Kristi Knous, who stresses we can no longer rely exclusively on the single philanthropist or company. And from Izaah Knox who writes about developing a diverse future. And in Chuck Current’s piece about building a bigger tent. 

For Des Moines truly to be Greater we need to tap into the ideas and solutions from all parts of the community. We need to shine a light and give a voice to the people and businesses within the community that perhaps aren’t always spotlighted but are each working intimately to improve their own corner of the region, while we simultaneously push and invite the community as a whole to offer solutions. The Business Record, too, needs to be better. This initiative will help us to be Greater by pushing us to actively seek and canvass for ideas, look closer at our community, and infuse and lift up voices from new and diverse backgrounds.

And when we do, when we set the sail in the prevailing wind of the many voices yearning to improve the community, in 35 years, I know Des Moines won’t just be great … we’ll be Greater. >