by LaDrina Wilson
Member, Q2030 Steering Committee
Member, Quad Cities Chamber Young Professionals Think Tank 
Dean of Students, Scott Community College

I believe, with every bone in my body, that the Quad Cities is on the path to something great. 

As a member of the Q2030 Regional Action Plan’s steering committee and the Quad Cities Chamber’s Young Professional Think Tank, last week I had the opportunity to sit with fellow Quad Citizens to listen to a nationally-known community collaborator. The gathering marked one-year of work on the Q2030 plan, and pushed us to move forward with speed and urgency. 

We’ve lined-up our priorities. We’ve reached across public, private, academic and social sectors in the community. Now, we have the collective capacity for action. But I can also say we will never reach our full potential until we’re all on the same page and we all have skin in the game.

That’s why our workshop last week with Jack Hess, executive director of CivicLab, was such an important step. Hess met with Quad Citizens across sectors to work with us on how to improve economic vitality in the region, a foundational piece of the region’s Q2030 Regional Action Plan.

As the dean of students at Scott Community College, one of the Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC), I am excited about our region’s vision to build relationships, maximize the strength of each sector, and prepare stakeholders for challenges together because it is something we are already doing as a community college… and see value in doing more of. 

At EICC, we do more than provide quality higher education—we are a conduit to serve the needs of our community, whether that means providing workforce development, strengthening K-12 partnerships, or bridging the gap between high school and post-secondary education. Our leadership has not only embraced the idea that we should be engaging with every sector in our community, we have followed through in action. That’s why this conversation about community collaboration is so important to us. 

In truth, most community colleges have similar missions to serve the diverse needs of our community’s differing sectors, but I believe the fervent passion in which we live our mission distinguishes us from others.

Another group of individuals that I have had the honor of serving among, a group also committed to the long-term economic development of this community through collaboration, is the young professionals group here in the Quad Cities. We have focused on finding what makes the Quad Cities unique and attractive and have worked to champion that vision. The voice of young professionals at the table is critical. The decisions made today will impact colleagues young and young-at-heart and their families for generations. We want to be an active player in not only highlighting the diverse ways this region is cool, creative, connected and prosperous, but also be part of the hard work to identify and address the challenges we face.

Our young professionals group has been intentional about reaching out and elevating people from all walks of life while addressing the needs of the marginalized and seeking solutions for the wealth-poverty gap. We know that a significant portion of economic development is in the industry sector and we recognize the people who make up those industries. If they’re not prosperous, our region won’t be.

You know there is much more work to be done. I know when we walked out of the workshop last week, my fellow attendees were as invigorated and focused as I am now to get boots on the ground and continue the work in very real, tangible, movement-building ways. Jack Hess was able to provide us with two things—inspiration, but also the groundwork for where to go next.

We have a call to action and we have the tactical layout of what to do. The opportunity is before us, and if we do this right by working alongside each other with determination and focus, we will create an incredible pipeline of prosperity for this region.

I hope you will be part of this work with me. 

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