With competition for jobs, talent and company investments at every corner of the globe, the Quad-Cities must unite behind a vision that will transform and distinguish the region as a cool, creative, prosperous and connected place.
That was the message Thursday from Deere & Co.'s chairman and CEO Sam Allen, the keynote speaker at the 2015 Quad-Cities Regional Vision Summit. Allen, who leads the Quad-Cities' largest single employer, issued a call to action to more than 200 community stakeholders, urging them to take action and commit to supporting the new regional vision.
The meeting, held at the iWireless Center, Moline, also unveiled the regional vision plan's new name — Q2030: A Regional Action Plan.
"As the Quad-Cities moves forward, it is crucial that the region be aligned," Allen told the audience. "Whether working to grow businesses, creating a quality place to live, preparing workers for the future, or improving public services, it's absolutely critical our region's people, cities, counties and states work together."
The summit, held as part of the Quad-Cities Chamber's Executives Club meeting, provided the latest update on the development of the regional strategy. The plan, which is still being shaped, calls for developing strategies to keep and attract talent, ignite quality jobs and company investments, and provide economic opportunities for all.
The idea to create a new regional vision was generated by the chamber's Regional Opportunities Council, or ROC, whose members have joined hundreds of volunteers to create the framework for Q2030. A 59-person steering committee has been leading the charge with members representing business, government, education, religious, non-profit and trades sectors.
"This is a very exciting time for the Quad-Cities," said Mary Junck, chairman and CEO of Lee Enterprises, who co-chairs the ROC with Allen. "We agree on what we want to become. We want to become a cool, creative, connected and prosperous region."
In thanking the leaders who have made significant efforts in the planning already, she added "I think this will change the trajectory of the Quad-Cities and we will become a cool, creative, connected and prosperous region."
Allen's keynote also offered an endorsement of Q2030 on behalf of Deere. "The Quad-Cities is home to our global headquarters, and roughly 8,000 employees. Our future success largely depends upon the success of this region. So we're committed to joining with community partners like you to build on the area's strengths and create an environment that embraces opportunities for the Quad-Cities to thrive in a global economy."
"We not only support, but commit ourselves to the success of the Quad-Cities Regional Vision strategy ...," he added.
Though still short on a detailed strategy, Q2030's aim is to create an environment for current and future residents, in which, they will experience enhanced and equitable wealth and have the opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for the region to thrive.
Allen called on the crowd of diverse stakeholders to embrace the plan's four pillars — cool places, creative people, a connected region and prosperous economy. "Now we're moving from planning to execution as we literally create our own future as a region," he said.
Citing the serious competition for jobs, talent and investment facing the region, Augustana College president Steve Bahls said out of 381 metro areas in the country, the Quad-Cities was 287th in Policom's economic strength ranking in 2004. Since then, it has advanced ahead of 176 other communities to be ranked at 111.
"It is going to take more than saying we are a great place to live and work ... we actually have to be a great place to live and work to keep people here," he added.
Joe Slavens, who chairs Q2030 with Bahls and Estes Construction Co. president and CEO Kent Pilcher, said the vision's priorities are meant to guide policy, initiatives and community action over the next five to 15 years.
Slavens, president and CEO of Northwest Bank & Trust Co., said it is "the next plays, both big and small, that will move Q2030 from vision to reality."
Speaking to the region's strength in producing great things and exporting them, he said there should be one exception. "We produce great talent, but lets export less great talent."