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Best Cities in America: Urbandale, Iowa

Updated on August 19, 2014
Along the Des Moines River. (asadchev on
Along the Des Moines River. (asadchev on

Urbandale, Iowa

Near Des Moines, Iowa is the expanding suburb of Urbandale. It's the fastest growing city in the state, according to BusinessWeek,a Bloomber publication, in early 2010 reporting. The suburb is home to an aggressive economic development corporation for the city, along with a local Chamber of Commerce that acts continually to meet and surpass its plans for city growth, particularly in extending offers of business incentives to new entrepreneurs.

In addition, like most successfully growing towns and cities in America, Urbandale's downtown district is a combination of business and residential settings, with a downtown business association that includes member businesses that collaborate on yearly events and activities. Further, local higher education facilities also make it a college town. All of these things keep Urbandale growing while protecting it from economic downturns.

Speaking of economic elements, Urbandale's economy is largely made up of revenues derived from the Financial and Insurance sectors of industry. This has made the suburb healthy enough that it has grown in numbers of households 44% in only the years from 2000 to 2010. Unemployment rates are generally lower from month to month than the national average and at the end of April 2010, over 9,000 job openings were listed across Internet sources for Urbandale and Des Moines.

Iowa Sunrise (behanna on
Iowa Sunrise (behanna on

Des Moines–West Des Moines Metro Area

Urbandale is an interesting name, meaning a sport of business district that is a small town. It became an official city in the spring of 1917, specifically as a streetcar suburb of Des Moines and four coal mines. In Columbus, Ohio and elsewhere in the Midwest a this time, the streetcar companies built theme parks to build ridership; but here in Iowa, a suburb for miners was the winning ticket.

Urbandale was once specifically located at the end of the Urbandale Line, a streetcar route that continued after railroad plans were scrapped. However, local coal mines closed after World War II and the streetcars stopped running in 1951, ending a picturesque era.

Urbandale grew from 298 people in 1920 to 1,777 in 1950, but 14,434 in 1970, and 29,072 at the 2000 US Census. It exploded in the 1950s-60s with Interstate highways, shopping centers, discount stores, and rapid business expansion that was rampant in America under Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson.

From 1950 – 1970, Urbandale's population increased by 812%; from 1970 – 2000, it more than doubled. From 2000 – 2010, the number of households increased nearly by half.

Urbandale is residential, but business development occurred regardless, especially with the advent of industrial parks along interstate highways I-35 and I-80. Green space is also abundant in parks and trails that connect to trails in Des Moines.

Money Magazine has named Urbandale to its list of 100 Best Places to Live several times since the mid-2000s. BusinessWeekhad forecast trouble for Urbandale in the Recession of 2008-9, because of its reliance on mortgage and banking companies, but found the forecast erroneous.

Top 15 High Demand Jobs

The highest demand jobs in the Urbandale market include positions in Research, Health, Sales and Service, IT, and Business.

  1. Research Associates, including Senior positions
  2. Physical Therapists
  3. Dental Assistants
  4. Research Scientists
  5. Occupational Therapists
  6. Customer Service Reps
  7. Salespeople
  8. Managers and Assistant Managers - Retail shops, coffee shops, convenence stores, fast food, similar small business operations.
  9. Sales Representatives
  10. Project Managers
  11. Registered Nurses (licensed RNs)
  12. Cashiers
  13. Administrative Assistants
  14. IT Engineers - Visual Basic, Web, and Java Developers
  15. Business Analysts

Top 20 Hiring Companies

  1. IBM - Data and Computers
  2. Pioneer Hi-bred International - Agricultural Business.
  3. Catholic Health Initiatives
  4. Robert Half Technology
  5. CDI - IT/Computers
  6. Critical Connection
  7. OfficeTeam - Temp to Perm
  8. Wells Fargo
  9. Iowa Health
  10. Medical Connections
  11. Principal Financial Group
  12. Sears and Roebuck/Sears Holdings - Includes KMart Stores
  13. Citi - Financial Products
  14. Marsh - HQ in Urbandale
  15. Kemin Industries
  16. City of Des Moines – Government jobs
  17. US Navy Recruiting District
  18. US Air Force
  19. Pizza Hut
  20. US Federal Government Jobs

Largest Urbandale Area Employers

  1. Wells Fargo & Co. - Financial Services, residential mortgages
  2. Principal Financial Group - Financial Services
  3. Iowa Health - Des Moines - Health
  4. Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines - Health
  5. Nationwide/Allied Insurance - Insurance
  6. MidAmerican Energy Company - Energy Services
  7. CDS Global - Magazine & product fulfillment, data and marketing
  8. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. - Agribusiness
  9. Marsh - Insurance
  10. Hy-Vee Food Stores Inc. - Retail grocery and drugs
  11. Wellmark Inc. - Health Insurance
  12. UPS - Logistics, distribution, transport, freight, etc.
  13. Firestone Agricultural Tire Company - Agricultural tires


Higher Education

  1. Drake University – Des Moines
  2. Grandview College Des Moines
  3. La'james International College
  4. Kaplan University - Des Moines Campus
  5. Iowa State University Extension Office - Urbandale
  6. Upper Iowa University – Des Moines

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(OeilDeNuit on

Urbandale - Des Moines Attractions

Iowa is much more than a sea of corn fields, despite what literature - including the biography of Roddenberry's fictional Captain James T. Kirk - tells us, even in the 2200s.

Agriculture still contributes a portion of the economy of the state, but not the major portion. In point of fact, Financial Services/ Products and Insurance make up the bulk of Urbandale's economy. Local attractions in the central state draw thousands of visitors each year to the Des Moines and Urbandale market area, including surrounding suburbs. Some of these drawing cards are:

(public domain)
(public domain)


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Call it a type of paying-forward; I worked 2 and 3 part time jobs together, once, for 13 years during economic downtown in my city! I would have been thankful if anyone had provided a bit of info like this, so my wish is to save at least a couple people from that fate.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Your are being very kind and helpful to people who need that kind of help. Thank you for your hub and lovely picture.