June 01, 2021

Good morning! It's Tuesday.

⚡ Situational awareness: Ownership of the Dico Superfund site downtown was officially transferred to DSM Friday.

  • Demolitions will begin in coming weeks.

Today's Smart Brevity count is 898 words — a 3.5-minute read.

😎 1 big thing: Des Moines' hot girl summer

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

After being holed up for a year, there's some big summer hype happening in Des Moines and city leaders are banking on it too.

What's happening: Whether you're calling it "hot girl summer" or "shot girl summer" — it's clear that people are going out again — and they're bringing their dollars with them.

  • The popular term coined by Megan Thee Stallion in her 2019 hit is about having fun and prioritizing yourself, regardless of gender or age. And it's being embraced as 2021's summer anthem.
  • Des Moines is leaning into this energy by committing more marketing dollars to leisure and recreation this summer.

Why it matters: It could soften losses as business travel remains on hold.

The state of play: Trina Flack, VP of sales for Catch DSM, says our area's hotel occupancy rates are still down at 30-40% Mondays through Thursdays, when traveling professionals typically make reservations.

  • But weekends are nearing prepandemic levels at 70-90%.
  • "We don't have that individual business travel that's really so critical to our economy normally," Flack said. "So we're trying to supplement with additional events."

Of note: Since Iowa reopened earlier than some states with larger cities, it was easier to attract events that would've otherwise flown over, Flack said.

  • For example: The recent Dew Tour drew in athletes from around the world to DSM's new Lauridsen Skatepark.

Yes, but: Businesses may struggle to reap in all of the tourism dollars if they don't have staff to operate at full capacity, Flack said.

  • And some post-pandemic inventory issues like lack of rental cars can cause bumps in the meantime.

Full story.

2. The skinny on our population growth

Population change by state
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We've got the fastest-growing metro in the Midwest but our overall state population growth remains sluggish, according to recently released 2020 census estimates.

Why it matters: Stable economic growth often relies on growing populations, and it's key to increasing our standard of living.

By the numbers: DSM's metro grew to 707,915 residents last year, a nearly 17% jump from 2010.

  • That was faster than our peers in Chicago, Omaha, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Louis, according to a review by the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
  • Iowa's population grew by 4.7% to 3.19 million since 2010.

Yes, but: Our metro's recent growth is mainly in the burbs, the Des Moines Register reports.

  • About 4,700 people have left DSM since 2017, a 4% drop.
  • Waukee, Grimes, Ankeny and Norwalk have the greatest percentage point gains during that period — between 4% and 8.4%.

The big picture: Iowa's slow population growth isn't "a good spot to be in" due to a lack of workers, Joe Murphy, director of the Iowa Business Council, said in April.

  • "That is very concerning to us as we think about the future of the state and the future economic opportunities that the state will afford," he said.

3. DSM's Pride Month

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The sun is finally out and that can only mean one thing — it's Pride Month.

What's changed: We're used to Capital City Pride's weekend-long festival in the East Village, but organizers are splitting it into smaller events this year — spanning June's 30 days.

What's ahead this week: Join the opening ceremony online, cheer on your favorites at the Mr./Ms./Mx. Pageant at the Garden or stop in for Drag Brunch at The Hall.

  • Check out the full list here.

Your trivia: Iowa was the third state in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009, following a decision made by the state Supreme Court in Varnum v. Brien.

4. Calling out anti-refugee rhetoric

Drake University president Marty Martin during a May 14 commencement ceremony. Photo: Screenshot of Drake University's online video

At least two community leaders are using their platforms to denounce anti-refugee rhetoric.

  • Last month, Drake University president Marty Martin and Des Moines City Manager Scott Sanders drew attention to state leaders' words and actions regarding refugee policies.

Catch up fast: Gov. Kim Reynolds this year rejected a federal request for Iowa to help house migrant children.

"This is not our problem. This is the president's problem."
Gov. Kim Reynolds, on WHO radio in April

What they're saying: During a May 14 commencement ceremony, Martin recounted Iowa's history of welcoming more than 2,600 Tai Dam refugees in the 1970s under then-Gov. Robert Ray.

  • "Governor Ray did not say in any of those instances that it was someone else's problem," Martin said. (You can watch his speech here, which begins around the 28-minute mark.)
  • During a meeting Friday, Sanders told the City Council that the state's refugee and human equality policies weren't "a good image" of Iowa this year.

Why it matters: Beyond obvious humanitarian reasons, maintaining a welcoming community is essential for our growth — particularly considering our worker shortages — as well as our state's cultural vitality.

What's next: Sanders said a group of business representatives are discussing the issue but he didn’t elaborate about possible next steps.

5. The Ear: Hot, buttered happenings

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  • The number of Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 fell to fewer than 100 over the weekend, the lowest level since April 2020. (WHO-TV)
  • The Iowa Lottery will hold daily Lucky for Life drawings starting July 19. A third weekly Powerball draw will start Aug. 23. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)
  • Cristhian Bahena Rivera's "phantom men" testimony was the moment his defense unraveled, legal observers said. He was convicted Friday for the murder of Mollie Tibbetts after testifying that two masked men were the real killers. (Des Moines Register 🔒)
  • The Child Care Taskforce launched by Gov. Kim Reynolds to address worker shortages will hold its second virtual town hall meeting tonight from 6-8pm. To participate, email [email protected] with your name and affiliation (if any).

🌽 PS: Thanks for the hot corn pun, Jessie Zaruba of Grimes.

6. 1 sweet thing: Graduation

A North High School student who was part of Sunday's graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of DMPS

North High School's graduation Sunday was the final DMPS class 2021 commencement at Drake's Knapp Center.

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👋🏼 See ya tomorrow.