“Expedition Des Moines 2016”

Since 2002, the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce has hosted an expedition to a comparable city to glean ideas for ways in which our community can enhance economic development, the recruitment and retention of young talent and quality of life initiatives. Through the years, many of the best practices and insights discovered in various locations have come to fruition in Topeka: downtown redevelopment, the NOTO Arts District, the state’s first bikeshare program, riverfront development and more.

This year’s trip to Des Moines should be just as eye-opening and eventful as we explore a community that in the past dozen years has undergone a significant transformation from a corn belt capital to one of the coolest cities in the country renowned for its architecture, art, education, entrepreneurial endeavors, affordability and other attributes that have garnered accolades from The Atlantic, Politico, CBS News, the Today Show and more.

We’ll hit the road in motor coaches Oct. 12-14. The all-inclusive cost is $700 with two nights of accommodations at the Embassy Suites. Participants will explore topics pertinent to Topeka’s own transformation en route so they will be well prepared upon arrival. We will learn how Des Moines residents built regional collaborative partnerships; addressed workforce attraction, retention and expansion; and sustained momentum in downtown development and other community image, pride and engagement initiatives. The itinerary is still being tweaked, but breakout sessions and tours dedicated for tourism, entrepreneurism, education and under-served populations, and health and wellness initiatives will be offered. We’ll also receive a guided tour of the World Food Prize, a global event likened to the Nobel Prize for innovative food producers.

And, of course, interspersed among the presentations and tours we’ll enjoy meals at distinctive local establishments, including a popular farm-to-table option, and have the opportunity to explore on our own.

Presenter Biographies 


More Food for Thought

Thank you to our sponsors who are supporting positive change for our community!

Atlas Sponsors

  • Advisors Excel
  • Bartlett & West
  • Britewerk
  • CoreFirst Bank & Trust
  • Cox Communications
  • Frito-Lay, Inc.
  • Midwest Health
  • Parrish Hotels
  • PTMW Inc.
  • Schwerdt Design Group Inc.
  • Stormont Vail Health
  • Visit Topeka Inc.



Prior visits were to the communities of:    backtotop

2013  Fargo/West Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN
2012  Fort Collins, CO

2011  Greenville, SC

2010 Oklahoma City, OK
2009 The Quad Cities, IA & IL
2008 Des Moines, Iowa
2007 Sioux City, IA & Sioux Falls, SD
2006 Little Rock, Arkansas
2005 Columbus, Ohio and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
2004 Lincoln and Omaha, NE
2003 Oklahoma City, OK
2002 Springfield, MO

Click link for final report from each city.


Notable outcomes from prior visits:   backtotop

  • Renewed efforts to revitalize downtown Topeka and importance of amenities to attract private investment, housing and people
  • Move forward to create NOTO Arts District
  • Importance of “quality of life” in economic development recruiting of businesses and workers
  • Regional marketing for economic development – Topeka Chamber working with chambers from Manhattan and Lawrence on regional initiative
  • Develop a master-plan for Kansas Riverfront development
  • Include advocacy for highway re-development bordering downtown and the riverfront as part of downtown and riverfront development
  • Creating community Visioning to develop a shared vision and plan for the community
  • Support Complete Streets program
  • Importance of strong young professional program to impact community growth and business development
  • Involving young professionals in community boards and decision-making
  • City’s development review committee
  • Erecting signs indicating street improvements are a result of voters sales tax initiatives
  • Creation of highway gateway beautification program and wayfinding program
  • Utilizing scientific polling to gage interest in ballot issues