West Des Moines, Iowa - A City Eliminating Poverty by 2015
High Trestle Trail Bridge Across the Des Moines River
A Stop On the Underground Railroad
One of the fastest-growing cities in the state, West Des Moines focuses considerable efforts into sustainability, eliminating poverty, volunteering, preserving historic sites, and the arts. Interestingly, City Hall is located in offices on the second floor of the West Des Moines Library at 4000 Mills Civic Parkway.
The city began as the 1893 railroad town called Valley Junction. Now a retail hub, West Des Moines has recently been recognized by business and economic analysts as a Best Place to Live and Do Business in the USA. It is one of CNNMoney.com’s 100 Best Places to Live in America at Number 76 in 2010, out of thousands of cities and towns considered for the list.
Geographically, West Des Moines is the largest suburb just west of Des Moines, sitting east of the junction of highways I-35 and I-80, in the south central part of Iowa.
Iowa Reference Map
Jordan House Historic Site
Sac and Fox Nation and Jordan House
Word is that the Sac and Fox Nation heard a rifle fire in 1845, the shot coming from the cattle farm of James C. Jordan, so they migrated away. The Jordan House is now the West Des Moines Historical Society and operates the Jordan House Museum and the Bennett School.
The house is an important stop on the Underground Railroad associated with slavery and the American Civil War. People living along the routes used to say that slaves disappeared so fast, it was like they took an underground railroad. They would be surprised to see America's subway systems today!
The closest thing America has to an underground railroad was the mailing railways. Beginning in the UK, an above ground rail system for freight and passengers developed and came to the USA.
- West Des Moines Historical Society, Bennett School, About the Jordan House, an historic home in West
The West Des Moines Historical Society operates The Jordan House Museum and the Bennett School. The Jordan House Museum, was built by the founder of West Des Moines, Ia, and was a station on the underground railroad.
Chief Conductor of the Underground Railroad for his county, James C Jordan helped oppressed people "follow the North Star" to freedom. He assisted John Brown on his famous last trip from Kansas northward, before the raid at Harper’s Ferry, when Brown and his escaping slaves camped at Jordan's farm in February 1858. The Jordan Home is a historical treasure today.
Greater Des Moines and Some Suburbs
Eliminating Poverty by 2015
One of a few Money.com Best Places to do so, West Des Moines advertises all of its services to aide low-income households on its city website.
Public Services for Low-Income Households
- Transportation- This is a vital part of becoming self-sufficient or maintaining health when elderly; cities need to have good transportation for everyone. The City of West Des Moines provides free transportation for residents that are elderly, disabled, or low income during daytime hours on weekdays. Special arrangements are made to help those under 60 and over 60 to enjoy a restaurant meal one a month with a group.
- Food Pantry and Personal Pantry – Open 5 days a week. Food, toiletries, laundry detergent, diapers, toilet paper, etc. - the items Food Stamps disallow. A clothing program is open three days a week.
- S.H.A.R.E. - Food Program – No income-level requirement . Save 50% on food boxes containing fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, staples, and other items. You may pay in Food Stamps if you have them.
- Garden Program – Seedlings and roto-tilling offered.
- UtilitiesAssistance – Heating bills, furnace repair and replacement, window insulation, fans an air conditioners, Gas and Electric help, water bill help.
- Holiday Programs – Thanksgiving and Christmas, winter coats, parties.
West Des Moines as a city recruits volunteers all year long to help with these and a variety of additional programs that offer services to those in need in order to become self sufficient.
Ending Poverty by 2015
- Des Moines Public Library
"Ending Poverty by 2015" has been presented in the library, along with other educational programs. Ending poverity is a project initiative and goal adopted by the city.
- AIB College of Business
- Des Moines Area Community College
- Drake University
- Des Moines University
- Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary
- Grandview College
- Upper Iowa University at Des Moines
- William Penn College at Des Moines
Selected Best Local Attractions
- Des Moines Art Center
- Des Moines Botanical Center
Today's Botanical Center includes tropical and sub-tropical plants, cacti, succulents, orchids from high rainfall and arid regions, all collected within a 150' geodesic dome. Large koi, white catfish, turtles, and free-flying birds are also housed wi
- Olson Larsen Gallery - West Des Moines, Iowa.
Olson Larsen Gallery, located in West Des Moines, Iowa is a contemporary art gallery representing original artwork done by over 60 Midwest artists.
- Jester Park Equestrian Center
- Reiman Gardens, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, Buck Roses, Butterfly House
Reiman Gardens is a beautiful gateway to Ames and Iowa State University. Located on a 14-acre site just south of the ISU football stadium in Ames, Reiman Gardens features several distinct garden areas, including an award-winning rose garden, an herb
- Salisbury House & Gardens
Salisbury House and Gardens is a historic castle located in the heart of Des Moines Iowa. You can schedule your special event or come for a daily tour.
- World Percheron Congress
2014 Percheron Grand Champion
More Information About Attractions
Many of these listed events and facility programs include a wide array of fine and performance arts that offer culture and historical preservation to residents and visitors of the Greater Des Moines Area. Local wineries combine wine tasting with art exhibitions successfully, but the library and related types of organizations display public art and gallery showings around the year.
Additional events are staged for pets, including a Cooking for Your Pet workshop, Howl-o-ween party with costumes, diet planning for pets, pet safety clinics, Pet Pictures with Santa, and a variety of pet shows.
The Percheron World Congress is the largest celebration of this specific horse breed. Its exhibitors come from USA, Canada, France (where the horse was bred), Australia, South Africa, Japan, with additional nations represented each year.
Illumifest - Parks and Recreation sponsor the annual Illumifest, A Fall Festival of Light, an annual evening event in late September. Held on the combination City/School Campus at 4200 Mills Civic Parkway, it offers activities for all ages.
Visitors and residents can make their own decorated paper lanterns and participate in a lighting ceremony before the finale of Illumifest. The festival also includes public art lanterns, carnival rides, inflatables, free hot air balloon rides (That's right - FREE), presentations by the Chinese Association of Iowa, live entertainment, and concessions. The finale is a huge fireworks display.
Valley Junction Historic Business District
Retail Hub Of Central Iowa
Valley Junction Historic Business District
This business district was constructed in the 19th Century with wooden sidewalks in old Valley Junction. Today, it is a center of neighborhood shopping and community events.
- A-MAY-Zing Days - West Des Moines’ signature event for the 31 days of May. Festivale Cinco de Mayo, Valley Junction Farmers Markets, Music in the Junction, the PGA Champions Tour Principal Charity Golf Classic, The Spring Art Market, and other concerts, festivals, and family events.
- Festivale Cinco de Mayo - Railroad Park holds this event annually to celebrates Mexico and the heritage of many of the railroad workers in Valley Junction history. This festival offers Mexican foods, arts, live music, dancing, and activities. Admission free.
- Historic Valley Junction Farmer's Market and Music in the Junction occur weekly during May through early October. Over 100 vendors line up along 5th Street for the Farmer’s Market so popular in the US as a localvore initiative. The district’s Railroad Park hosts a beverage garden with local bands playing on Thursday evenings at Music in the Junction. Free admission.
- Spring and Fall Art Markets - Twice a year, 5th Street is lined with 100+ artists from around the USA for a juried festival. Unique and attractive items available include pottery, paintings, prints, photographic works, jewelry, furniture, clothing, sculpture, and something different every festival. Activities include an arts area for the kids, concessions, artistic demos, and live music on several stages. Admission free.
Jordan Creek Town Center Mall
Jordan Creek, named after abolitionist James C. Jordan, is an upscale lifestyle center covering 2,000,000 square feet of retail space. It has an enclosed retail center full of upscale fashion and lifestyle goods and services. It includes a 3 ½ acre lake surrounded by hike/bike trails, a boardwalk, waterfront restaurants and cafes, a hotel, an amphitheater, and a village business district with additional retailers. Apartments have been added to the complex, known as a living - working or life-work multiuse site.
- Jordan Creek Town Center
- Valley West Mall :: Welcome
- West Glen Town Center | Des Moines Iowa Premiere Shopping and Entertainment Destination
West Glen Town Center is Des Moines Iowa's premiere shopping and entertainment destination. With a community of business', loft style living, resturaunts, bars, shops, and entertainment activities your sure to love it.
The Malls of West Des Moines
Business and Jobs
Bloomberg's BusinessWeek named the combined Des Moines/West Des Moines market area as one of its 40 Economically Strongest American Metropolitan Areas, in the Number 17 slot, in 2009 and it has remained on the list since that time.
West Des Moines needs temporary Special Census workers in Spring 2015 and regular enumerators and other staff in 2020. Jobs pay $13 to $17 per hour, plus paid training and mileage. A limited number of clerical staff, crew leaders and supervisors also will be hired. Applicants will be 18+ years old, live within 20 miles of West Des Moines, have a valid driver’s license, access to a vehicle, and be willing to work a minimum of 20 hours/week.
Call (515) 222-3598.
The majority of available jobs are located in Des Moines and West Des Moines, along with the nearest suburbs, Urbandale, Ankeny, and Johnston. The highest demand jobs are involved in Retail Sales and Service, IT, Healthcare, and Business Services. Many of the business and IT positions are also located within the local large healthcare systems.
Approximately12,000 job listings were available in March 2010, with over 14,300+ jobs advertised for March - April 2015. This is an increase of about 20%.
If West Des Moines can prove an increase in population through the US Special Census referenced above, it will receive over $2,000,000 for road infrastructure after census expenses over a period of a decade. This event will further increase jobs with an additional $670,000 to spend on jobs and roads each year.
Top Hiring Companies
- Platinum Supplemental Insurance - Particularly health insurance sales.
- Catholic Health Initiatives
- Hy-vee Food Stores: employee-owned corporation with retail stores in seven Midwestern states.
- Toys "R" Us, Pizza Hut
- Celebrity Staff
- Wells Fargo Bank
- Robert Half Technology
- Iowa Health System
- St Luke's Regional Medical Center
Top 10 Hot Jobs
- Insurance Sales Agents
- Managers and Assistant Managers, including Food Service and others
- Sales and Insurance Benefits Representatives
- Hy-Vee Grocery jobs
- Business Analysts
- Sales Managers
- Healthcare Support Staff
- Real Estate Professionals
- Personal Bankers and Banking IT Staff
A Job Surge in February and March 2014 is followed by another increase developing in early 2015.
© 2010 Patty Inglish MS