SPEAKER JAMES CHUNG: Rebuilding Toward Deeper Resiliency

Even with all the major disruptions in the world since James Chung was here in 2018 – global pandemic, a wounded economy and a national reckoning over racial inequities – Greater Des Moines remains a statistical overachiever and a standout region nationally.

So said Chung on his return to the Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series on a virtual stage on September 23, 2020, to reassess the region’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. But while he expressed optimism for the region, he also outlined several challenges, from the need for continued investment coming out of recession, to the importance of diversifying the population, for the region’s long-term resilience.

 

Chung is the president of Reach Advisors, a strategy, research and predictive analytics firm. Among his clients are U.S. cities wanting to peer deep into his datasets – he says he extracts data even the U.S. government doesn’t have – to help them gain competitive advantages over other cities.

During his first visit in 2018, Chung described Greater Des Moines outperforming its peers whenever compared to his client cities around the country. Chung said at the time that Greater Des Moines could break out as a city known nationally for talent and opportunity – if the region continued with its intentional planning and a willingness to take on big initiatives.

During his second visit in 2020, Chung reaffirmed Greater Des Moines’ standing in the nation, saying it outperforms all peers of its population size and finds meaningful comparisons with larger breakout cities such as Austin, Salt Lake City, and Denver. He challenged the region to double down on investing in itself coming out of recession, as it has to great success in the past. He also highlighted the need to diversify its population, and said the region’s efforts to grow its population will face more competition.

The Tomorrow Plan Speaker Series is an implementation strategy of The Tomorrow Plan, a plan for the sustainable development of Greater Des Moines.

James Chung was such an engaging speaker two years ago we just had to bring him back. To get you ready, here is a recap of his talk in 2018, along with a video and a copy of his presentation. Enjoy.

James Chung: “Next Frontiers for a Standout City”

James Chung didn’t find Greater Des Moines – Greater Des Moines found him.

Chung is the president of Reach Advisors, a strategy, research and predictive analytics firm. Among his clients are U.S. cities wanting to peer deep into his datasets – he says he extracts data even the U.S. government doesn’t have – to flush out weaknesses, identify opportunities, and gain competitive advantages over other cities.

And among those “other cities”? Greater Des Moines, the statistical overachiever.

Invariably, when Chung compares client cities to others around the country, Greater Des Moines jumps out of the data as outperforming its peers. So much so, Chung said, that Greater Des Moines could break out as a city known nationally for talent and opportunity, following the pattern of Nashville, Tenn.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; or Boulder, Colo.

Greater Des Moines is approaching a decision point, Chung says. The region has been in a period of exceptionally rapid growth, and it is well positioned to ride that momentum for some time. But if the region wants to continue growing at the same ambitious pace, it will require intentional planning and a willingness to take on big initiatives.