by MEGAN MCDOWELL
Drake University is partnering with the Des Moines West Side Chamber of Commerce to host the first annual Fall Forward Celebration, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the Shivers Courtside Club.
This event will be celebrating 2019 and looking forward to everything 2020 will bring. Drake’s contribution to economic development in Des Moines is going to be a key highlight of this celebratory occasion. Hors d’oeuvres will be served by neighborhood restaurants and the special guest speaker will be Jennie Baranczyk, Drake women’s basketball coach.
Board President of the West Side Chamber of Commerce, David Pargulski, a Drake alum, is looking forward to showcasing Drake’s collaboration with the chamber and the City of Des Moines.
“Drake is a very important part of the west side and an extremely valuable partner to the West Side Chamber,” Pargulski said. “It just made sense that it would be an economic recap [of 2019], showcasing the development by Drake.”
Drake has positioned itself to be Des Moines’ hometown university and an interactive community, Pargulski said. There is a lot of buzz around the economic momentum surrounding the Drake campus.
“We want the Dogtown project to make the neighborhood a destination,” Pargulski said. “A place where people spend time, hit several locations and make a day of it. That’s been missing.”
For Director of Community Engagement at Drake, Ryan Arnold, whose role it is to build and sustain Drake’s relationships with the businesses in the Dogtown area, the Fall Forward event is an opportunity to bring business owners and operators, and current or future entrepreneurs together.
He understands how isolating the position of being a small business owner can be and how the long hours can take a toll.
“This event provides a space where you can come together with other owners who know the same struggles,” Arnold said. “To celebrate what’s new and the future.”
Arnold has been an advocate promoting Drake as a leader and a good neighbor. He is happy to be collaborating with the Des Moines West Side Chamber of Commerce and focusing on Drake neighborhood businesses.
“I join in their excitement in the community excitement,” Arnold said. “…Our number one goal is to increase population density through a mixed income, mixed use development.”
Signing off on the Fall Forward Celebration is Drake’s Vice President, John Smith, who is the service-oriented gatekeeper at Drake and liaison to the West Side Chamber of Commerce and its executive director, Darrell Sarmento.
“[Darrell] has recognized the asset that Drake is,” Smith said. “It’s more than a neighborhood, it’s a west side institution.”
Smith is proud to showcase Drake’s continuing commitment to the neighborhood and the city of Des Moines.
“This event is just one of a number of examples that Drake embodies our inspiration statement: Together we transform lives and strengthen communities,” Smith said. “The vision and the work of the West Side Chamber is a valued partnership and powerful vehicle to share in that commitment to the community of which we are a part.”