(Quad Cities) - The Quad Cities Chamber, St. Ambrose University, and the Quad-City Times today announced a partnership called the Quad Cities New Ideas Forum which will invite presidential candidates and thought leaders to advance discussions around new ideas to improve the country’s future. Presidential candidates and Quad Cities residents are invited to participate in upcoming events over the next eight months. Events will be announced as they are scheduled.

"This is an opportunity to bring the Quad Cities into the national spotlight as the country watches Iowa for first indications of who our presidential candidates will be,” says Tara Barney, President and CEO, Quad Cities Chamber. "The Quad Cities New Ideas Forum is an opportunity for candidates to lead the conversation about how they plan to shape our country’s future, whether related to jobs and the economy, national defense, foreign relations, or technology and innovation. We welcome a robust conversation with presidential candidates and non-partisan issue groups.”

The Quad Cities is a pivotal stop on the caucus campaign trail. Two decades worth of voter registration data shows that Quad Cities residents are evenly divided among partisan and independent voters, providing candidates the opportunity to reach voters who are open to new ideas.

"At St. Ambrose University, we believe in encouraging our students, faculty, and staff members to get involved in the political process,” says PJ Foley, Director, Government and Community Relations for St. Ambrose University. "This forum will allow them – and all interested Quad Cities citizens – to interact with presidential candidates. Ultimately, this will empower all of us to be more fully informed and engaged participants in the 2016 Iowa Caucuses and presidential elections.”

Over the next eight months, as local and national interest in the Iowa caucus intensifies, the Quad Cities New Ideas Forum will play host to many of the presidential candidates.

"We’re blessed to live in a community where people actually listen to, engage and evaluate candidates,” says Mark Ridolfi, Editorial Page Editor, Quad-City Times. "Local voting records show how segments of our biggest bloc of registrants – independents – routinely re-register as Democrats or Republicans during caucus years. So Quad-City voters are more apt to evaluate candidates, not just party labels. At the end of this year, our airwaves will be inundated with secret money ads intended to reduce caucus participation. That’s why the Times isthrilled to unite with our Chamber and St. Ambrose University on a year-long campaign aimed at increasing Quad Cities voters’ caucus participation.”

Participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #QuadCitiesNewIdeas on social media to participate in the conversation. All in-person events will be hosted at St. Ambrose University. Events will be free and open to the public. Other events, as determined by the candidates, may take place in the form of podcasts or online conversations.

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