Technology is causing disruptive change in business delivery models across all industries – healthcare, manufacturing, travel, and logistics, to name a few – and economic development is no different. In order to adapt to and stay ahead of these changes, Quad Cities First, the economic development division of the Quad Cities Chamber, has been hard at work implementing a next generation economic development strategy, working to leverage new tools, staff capabilities and economic development assets in order to productively increase wealth in the regional economic ecosystem.
“Successful communities – like the Quad Cities region – are making a proactive, deliberate effort to strategically position themselves to take advantage of economic opportunities as they emerge,” said Chief Economic Development Officer Liz Murray Tallman. “New trends require new organizational thinking and marketing, plus a collaborative approach that reduces redundancies and maximizes resources. New strategies that anticipate forthcoming issues are also needed.”
Previously the program required a “road warrior,” someone who spent the majority of their time traveling to attend trade shows and forums. Because of its new focus on targeted, data-driven decisions, the plan instead requires someone to form strategic relationships with site selectors and key constituencies that are more likely candidates for relocation to the Quad Cities region.
As a result, Tami Petsche, Vice President of Economic Development, will now oversee the business attraction program, traveling approximately 20-25% of the time. In addition, Petsche will continue to lead the economic development team from a day-to-day perspective, with Tallman providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the Economic Development division.
Jenelle Wolber is the new Director, Economic Development Services, managing requests for information (RFIs), proposals, systems and support the business attraction plan. Jenelle has numerous years of economic development experience, having previously worked for the Quad Cities Chamber before becoming the Business Development Manager for the Clinton Regional Development Corporation.
The team is rounded out by Bill Ratzburg, who recently retired from John Deere, serving most recently as Economic Development Program Director; Director, Investor Relations and Director, Business Development. Ratzburg will lead the Quad Cities Manufacturing Innovation Hub as the Director, Manufacturing and Defense. Ratzburg’s responsibilities include oversight of the day-to-day operations of the Hub while ensuring the team is fulfilling its responsibilities outlined in a $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment to develop a Supply Chain Mapping Tool, an online platform providing users with data related to the supply chain in the region. Additionally, Ratzburg will work with the team to develop a plan for the long-term sustainability of the Hub.
The new team members join several already in place, including:
- Julie Jindrich, Business Intelligence Program Director, who is responsible for using data analytics to identify and translate market opportunities into actionable recommendations
- Erin Platt, Marketing & Communications Director, who is responsible for overseeing the development of a new website that will drive more traffic and provide more quality leads
- Michelle Lewis, Regional Business Development Director, who is responsible for implementing a strategic business expansion program tied to regional primary industries
"It's about retooling," Tallman said. "Just like the manufacturing companies or anybody else, we're thinking about innovation. That's why this data-driven approach is important. We're looking at economic development from a forward-thinking, innovative approach."
Quad Cities First is a public-private partnership that represents a six-county region for business attraction, retention and expansion. Counties include Scott, Clinton and Muscatine Counties in Iowa and Rock Island, Henry and Mercer Counties in Illinois.