Iowa might catch a lot of flak for being covered in cornfields, but within its state lines is a beautiful, bustling metropolis. The Des Moines metro area is home to more than 500,000 residents, loads of thriving companies (more on that later), art museums and an international airport, yet boasts one of the country’s shortest urban commutes (less than 20 minutes on average), a 4.4-acre urban park and sculpture garden, 300 miles of trails and good schools.
Visiting Des Moines on business? Not surprising. In 2010, Forbes named Des Moines “The Best Place for Business and Careers,” due in part to its low operational costs (15 percent less than the national average) and a cost of living 10 percent lower than national average. As far as industry, the city is home to lots of big names: Wells Fargo, Principal Financial Group, the Meredith Corporation, EMC Insurance Companies and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield all headquarter here.
In addition to corporate America, every four years Des Moines becomes a political hotspot. The capitol city hosts the first caucus of the presidential election season, the result of which can make or break a campaign. Candidates make sure to visit the area early and often (pay a visit to the 801 Chophouse and you might find yourself dining next to a future president.)
Des Moines isn’t all work and no play. Every year, the city hosts the Iowa State Fair, drawing about 1 million people to enjoy the food and fun. Art lovers will fall in love with the Des Moines Art Center. Kids will go nuts at the Blank Park Zoo. If architecture is your thing, you’ll find everything from classic style to the modern lines of Kruidenier Trail Bridge.