By Colson Thayer, Editorial Intern | West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce
After Clyde Evans left the second-fastest-growing city in America to pursue an opportunity at the city of West Des Moines, Mayor George Mills was worried Evans would be bored.
“I have not been bored yet,” assured Evans.
Evans served the city for 32 years in the Community & Economic Development department. Since arriving in the early 90s, Evans has overseen the development of West Des Moines’ biggest projects including Jordan Creek Town Center, West Des Moines’ Wells Fargo Campus, and the revitalization of Historic Valley Junction.
“I never expected to be here for 32 years, most people in my job maybe stay five to seven years. It’s just the nature of the business,” said Evans. “So to stay here for 32 years says a lot for the community.”
And the community has experienced a lot of change and growth since he first arrived.
“We had just barely started going into Dallas County,” said Evans. He remembered the 1990 census had counted about six residents of West Des Moines in Dallas County. Today there are more than 20,000. The city has even expanded into Warren and Madison County as well.
Evans acknowledged the pace of growth in West Des Moines has been remarkable. The city’s Community & Economic Development department faced the challenge of keeping up with that continued growth and its demand for services. Despite the challenges, Evans recognized the excitement and fulfillment he received being a part of the journey.
“You get to work on a lot of things that a community our size wouldn’t normally see,” Evans said. “Things that come through the approval process here gets built… it’s kind of fun to be associated with all that new growth and development.”
But Evans has observed that the spirit of West Des Moines hasn’t changed. Since Evans can remember, the citizens of West Des Moines have always been well-educated, engaged, and interested in community development.
“I think that’s been one of the strengths of the community, we’ve been able to effectively engage the public,” Evans said. “We’ve got a lot of people that are very interested in what’s going on with the city and wanting to be involved.”
Throughout Evans’s career, he has always had the philosophy that if the business community is successful, so is the community as a whole.
“It really is a partnership,” said Evans. “It does no good for us to be adversarial. In order for us to be successful, we have to create that environment where they can be successful.”
But over the course of his career, Evans has recognized he hasn’t accomplished anything alone.
“One person doesn’t make a city,” he said. “By and large, the development community here has been really good to work with. We do a lot of interacting between different city departments, whether it’s engineering, whether it’s waterworks, the city attorney’s office, city manager’s office, it’s very much a collaborative process. Because if one thing fails, then we all fail.”
Although Evans’s career is coming to an end, he is confident West Des Moines will continue to see continuous growth and development far into the future.
“You’ll continue to see some pretty significant things happening in this community,” he said.
“We have really unbelievable potential and sometimes the best thing is just to get out of the way,” he laughed.