By Katherine Harrington, President & CEO | West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce
It has been a very successful first half of the year at the WDM Chamber with our team of 7 and 2 interns. We are fully staffed and running on all cylinders.
This year we are excited to include new full time team members Tiffany Piper as events & experiences coordinator, Everett Mullican as social media & marketing coordinator, Iowa State University Senior Richard Salas as editorial intern, and Freddie Diaz from Avenue Scholars as talent attraction intern. In addition, Tom Florian was recognized as the 2023 Drake University Young Alumni Loyalty Award Recipient. These leaders and our entire team including Kara Matheson, Anna Doud, and Meredith Murphy, help to advance our city, region, and state as we continue to position West Des Moines, the region, and the state of Iowa as the best in the U.S.A. to live, work, and play.
Attracting talent to our city, region, and state is paramount. We are making big strides to help our area companies and organizations attract talent to our region.
Our West YP group for young professionals is one of the largest with 244 members. Sub-committees for this group has grown from 13 – 22 leaders. The West YP newsletter has a whopping average open rate of 48.7% (above the industry average of 21.33%). This group has also formed the Inaugural West YP Open that will take place on September 29th. The WDM Leadership Academy Alumni group efforted a statewide Day of Kindness that raised 865 sock donations for the needy.
The nationally recognized West Des Moines Leadership Academy is into its 16th year and for the ’23-24 class, it reached 260 as the number of different businesses who have sent leaders through the program over its tenure. For the Class of ’23, 36 leaders raised $48,000+ for mental health in our region.
The quickly growing program, and 6th annual YURturn for college interns has seen a record 302 participants this summer from 17 different colleges & universities around the nation representing 28 majors. YURtern certified interns at the end of the summer DOUBLED from last year with all 6 events selling out at full capacity.
Recruiting talent from outside our area is a key focus as we continue to position our city and region as a welcoming community. Video production is underway for our national advertising campaign. We applaud our 10 Talent Attraction Partners for helping for making this possible. In addition, TREK Days has so far seen 96 students visiting our city from 8 different schools who visited 10 regional companies. This spring, the WDM Chamber visited 7 career fairs in the Midwest including the big 10 Conference and spoke with hundreds of youth about our beautiful city and state.
DEI is critical to our organization and programming. With the creation of our DEI committee in 2020, and through the work of statewide leaders, we have worked to make sure people know that no matter who you are, where you are from, or who you belong, you are welcome to West Des Moines, and you are welcome to Iowa.
The Athene Black & Brown Business Summit saw near 500 people attend this third-year event that included 5 total subcommittees supporting the Pitch Competition, Mel Essex Award, Diversity Week & Vendor Fair, Non-Profit Fundraiser, and Programming Committee. Through the support of our sponsors, this event donated $50,000 to Black & Brown entrepreneurs, included 73 speakers, 12 educational panels & workshops, 2 keynotes speakers and much more.
The Latino Trade Network continues to grow and includes 70 members meeting monthly to share best practices and growth strategies. In addition, they host quarterly events that draws hundreds from around the metro.
The 7th annual Mentoring for Women saw a record amount of 240 attendees and 23 mentors. Tina Talks included 6 of the most highly regarded female leaders in our state.
The third annual DEI Workplace Excellence Awards set for Sept 7th includes 8 judges, 35 applicants, and 10 award recipients. Reserve your seat today for the September 7th event to celebrate belonging in our region.
We were so happy to include new Presidents Council Members including Merchants Bonding, Aureon, and Casey’s. Over 70 new members joined the West Des Moines Chamber so far this year who will be enjoying the many benefits of being a West Des Moines Chamber Member including promotion on social media networks reaching over 15,000 each post, and newsletter reach of near 5,000. The WDM Chamber produces 166+ newsletters each year with over 800,000 impressions. These include Coming Up, WDM News, The Influencer, West YP, The Weekender, and Leader’s Digest College Newsletter. In addition, we have recorded several CEO Insights videos highlighting member leaders. The WDM Chamber has 15 active committees who help to position our city as the best in America to live, work, and play.
And that is just a sampling of the great work our team is doing to spotlight our city. Thank you to everyone for your support. The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce means business and the West is Yet to Come! KH