Tara Barney, President & CEO, Quad Cities Chamber
In 2014, the biggest conversation we could have as a community was launched. It’s a big idea; what do we want the Quad Cities to be in 2030 and beyond? Hundreds of regional businesses and organizations settled on the shared aspiration that the Quad Cities region will be recognized globally for growing and attracting talent and businesses, be energized by a culturally rich community; one that inspires innovation, and embraces lifelong learning. In other words, the Quad Cities will be more "cool,” "creative,” and "prosperous.”
About 200 organizations from throughout the region came together to discuss how together, as community stewards we can transform the Quad Cities region into an even more compelling place to live and work. Businesses, academic institutions, local governments, non-profit organizations, and others have endorsed this notion and committed to doing their part to make this vision a reality.
Some have asked where we start. I think we already have: over the past few years the Quad Cities has proven it is equipped to accomplish great things. This year, for the first time in recent history, the Quad Cities region broke into the top quartile of regional economies in the U.S. based on economic strength rankings. This is a milestone, years in the making, but one that reflects how our economy is doing compared to hundreds of others in the country.
In addition, the #tagtheQC efforts were recognized by MavSocial, alongside UPS, Evian, the Zayed Future Energy Prize, and L'Oreal as a social media campaign to inspire you. Have you gone to your favorite cool place in the Quad Cities, taken a selfie, and posted it on Facebook or Twitter to #tagtheQC yet?
More specifically, in 2014 we saw progress on major initiatives that will significantly impact business, residents, and our future workforce. Many of these are the culmination of years of advocacy and work by many community leaders. Each is a great example of the power of working regionally.
·SouthPark Mall, Moline’s largest commercial property and revenue generator, celebrated its grand opening under new owners Macerich.
·The Downtown Davenport Partnership announced a private developer will pursue the demolition and redevelopment of the former Howard Johnson hotel site. Site demolition work on this $25 million development will start in January.
·Western Illinois University – Quad Cities celebrated the opening of Phase II this fall. Its three new buildings are part of a $42 million, 95,000-square-foot addition.
·Alcoa Davenport Works completed a $300 million expansion to supply aluminum sheet products to the automotive industry, resulting in 150 new jobs and 200 retained jobs in the region.
·Construction started on the approaches to the new I-74 bridge this year, and over $88 million in federal funding has been received for the project.
·The Quad City International Airport, the Quad Cities Chamber, and the State of Illinois are collaborating to bring direct air service between here and Washington D.C.
Momentum, a spirit of regionalism and collaboration, and a shared goal of economic prosperity are on our side as we begin 2015. Together, we can make that "vision” for the Quad Cities of the future, a reality; the place we want to work and live. And the place that many others choose for all the right reasons as well. What if:
•Our key industries get the tools and workforce they need to choose the Quad Cities for their next expansion?
•We increase the number of Quad Cities citizens with training beyond high school; a certificate, a degree, or other technical skill-building that raises earning power and makes our residents even more valuable to Quad Cities employers?
•Our downtowns continue to flourish and become the #1 location for talent moving to town because they want to live and work in a creative, fast-paced neighborhood?