A clean, affordable and accessible city, Des Moines is an ideal destination for meeting planners. Situated at the Crossroads of America, this four-time "All American City" is within one-day's drive of 23 percent of the U.S. population. In fact, 56 million people live within a 500-mile radius of Des Moines, and approximately two million people visit each year.
Des Moines' increasing popularity as a meetings destination is largely due to a $2.85 billion city transformation. Continuing to step up its game, Des Moines is in the midst of a massive makeover that has infused the city with new life and given it a fresh, new face. From modern hotels to exciting new attractions, there is no end in sight to Des Moines' skyrocketing growth. One of Des Moines most ambitious undertakings is the Principal Riverwalk. A series of lighted pathways and bridges, the Principal Riverwalk will connect the east and west sides of town and is primed to redefine the riverfront experience and reinvigorate the city.
Arriving in Des Moines is both convenient and affordable with an average of 120 domestic flights arriving daily at Des Moines International Airport. Once in the city, the convenience continues with an efficient, free shuttle service called the "D-Line." With shuttles running daily, this new feature is a fun and economical way to maneuver throughout town. Additionally, Des Moines is home to the largest per capita skywalk system in the world. Totaling four miles, this climate-controlled system links downtown meeting facilities with shopping, hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Easy access is only the beginning when it comes to hosting a meeting in Des Moines. The Iowa Events Center, the city's centerpiece for meeting and convention groups, boasts over 200,000 square feet of meeting space. A complex comprised of Hy-Vee Hall, the Wells Fargo Arena, the Polk County Convention Complex and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the $217 million center allows planners the ease and versatility that comes from having several Des Moines event venues in one convenient setting.
With options for meetings and conventions of all sizes, Hy-Vee Hall and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium offer seating for between 500 and 17,000 people, plus an additional 17 breakout rooms and enough space for tradeshows of up to 1,020 people. Additionally, the award-winning Polk County Convention Complex offers 50,000 square feet of flexible space, of which 20,000 square feet can be divided into 10 different meeting rooms.
Another world-class meetings option is the expansive Iowa State Fairgrounds. Just 10 minutes from the downtown area and 20 minutes from the Des Moines International Airport, the Iowa State Fairgrounds offers 300,000 square feet of exhibit space within more than a dozen facilities. A full-time event planning staff along with parking space for 15,000 vehicles makes the fairgrounds a terrific site for tradeshows and other large-scale events and exhibitions.
Beyond the traditional event centers, meeting planners are pleased to find that Des Moines offers a host of additional unique facilities. From theaters to historic homes, museums to casinos, the many alternative spaces afford delegates a rare taste of the city. Host a seminar in the main hall of the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, offering space for 2,735 people along with phenomenal acoustics and superb sightlines. Small groups can gather in an elegant 1923 Tudor mansion at the Butler House on Grand. Or, invite guests to a memorable event underneath the sea or overlooking a rainforest at Blank Park Zoo.
Commonly referred to as "Hartford of the West," Des Moines is one of the largest insurance centers in the United States. Several large corporations are headquartered in Des Moines including Principal Financial Group, Meredith Publishing Company, Allied Insurance and EMC Insurance. Many prominent colleges and universities also call the city home including Drake University, Des Moines University and Grand View College.