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2014 Annual Event Award Nominations are Now Open

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2014 Citizen of the Year

Most Likely to Refer the Downtown Chamber

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Seventh Street to Reopen in Downtown Des Moines

Reported in the Des Moines Register – 12/16/14

Good news for downtown commuters: Seventh Street will reopen between Walnut and Locust streets Thursday night, according to city officials.

The street has been closed since March, when a massive  fire destroyed half of the former Younkers building at the corner of Seventh and Walnut streets.

Walnut Street between Seventh and Eighth streets will remain closed for at least 12 to 18 months, said city traffic engineer Jennifer McCoy. It was also closed because of the fire, but will remain barricaded longer because of work to renovate the remaining half of the Younkers building into apartments and the construction of a new four-story building by EMC Insurance Cos.

Serial entrepreneur to lead D.M. insurance accelerator

The first startup accelerator in Des Moines has its leader.

The Global Insurance Accelerator has named Brian Hemesath, a local serial entrepreneur, as its managing director, organizers announced Tuesday.

The accelerator aims to bring insurance-centric startups to Des Moines and put them through an intense 100-day business development and mentorship program.

As managing director, Hemesath is responsible for managing the program, finding investment opportunities for the participating startups and ultimately leading the teams through the accelerator.

The accelerator’s organizers said they chose Hemesath because of his experience starting multiple startups.

Hemesath is the founder of Diligent Information Services, Catchwind and VolunteerLocal. He is also a co-chair on the Entrepreneurial Advisory Council for the Greater Des Moines Partnership, which is supporting the accelerator.

Six teams will go through the accelerator. It culminates in a presentation day during the second annual Global Insurance Symposium in downtown Des Moines in May.

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YMCA Asks State to Help Pay for Olympic Pool

Reported in the Business Record – 12/9/14

The YMCA of Greater Des Moines is asking for a $1 million Iowa tourism grant to help bridge a $6 million shortfall in funding for a 50-meter swimming pool at the Wellmark YMCA.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Attraction and Tourism committee is scheduled to discuss the application when it meets Wednesday morning. If the measure is approved by the committee, it could be several months before the Vision Iowa board votes on the proposal.

Dave Gieske, a YMCA spokesman, said the organization continues to seek financial sources to fill a gap that has resulted in a delay in the opening of the pool, which originally was planned to be a featured attraction of the Wellmark YMCA when it opens in renovated and reconstructed space at the former Polk County Convention Complex at Fifth and Grand avenues.

The YMCA also is awaiting word on whether it could still qualify for $6 million in federal New Market Tax Credits after being turned down in an earlier request. With the exception of the pool, the Wellmark YMCA is scheduled to open Jan.1.

Y officials continue to look for additional sources to help finance the pool, including tapping individuals and organizations that have yet to contribute to a capital campaign that is seeking $13 million toward the $30 million project.

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino will have the naming rights for the 50-meter pool after donating $1 million plus $1 to the project. The extra dollar was need to top $1 million contributions from Bill Knapp, Jim Cownie, MidAmerican Energy Co. and Principal Financial Group Inc. After acquiring and selling the property to the YMCA, Wellmark Inc. donated the land for the swimming pool.

Section of downtown skywalk open after repairs

 Reported in the Business Record – 12/4/14

The section of the skywalk in the Des Moines Partnership Building connecting the Des Moines Marriott Downtown, the Merchants Building, and the former Des Moines Register Building is now open for public use.