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On a site that once was a part of Moline's industrial riverfront, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union is investing in the future with a new headquarters. 

Soaking up sunshine that has been rare lately, IH Mississippi Valley President and CEO Brian Laufenberg and Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri took a turn at the controls of a John Deere backhoe Tuesday to scoop up a bucketful of dirt for the ceremonial ground-breaking at the location at 2500 River Drive. Site preparation began a week ago on the $26 million, four-story office structure that will replace the credit union's existing headquarters on Moline's Avenue of the Cities. 

"We have scaled the building for the future and not what we are today," Laufenberg said of the future 90,000-square-foot building.

IH Mississippi Valley announced in November it was planning to build on an eight-acre site near the Western Illinois University campus and directly west of The Mills at Riverbend Commons, a privately owned student housing complex. 

"This groundbreaking and the building that will stand here is a continuation of the commitment we started in 1934 to improve the financial lives of our members and the communities we serve," Laufenberg told an audience of more than 80. On hand for the celebration were city officials, development partners, Renew Moline members, business and community leaders and IH Mississippi Valley's staff, management, board directors and some members.

Davenport-based developer Russell will be the design-builder of the project, which will include a campus-like setting. Omaha-based Leo A. Daly is the architect.

The site, which the credit union purchased from the city of Moline, is the last available riverfront property in the area the city readied for redevelopment. Ray Forsythe, the city's planning and development director, said the site was the former American Filter Co. and was last ABC Roofing's warehouse when the city acquired it —  a deal he helped negotiate shortly after joining the city staff.

Over the years, plans had called for a high-tech office park known as RiverTech and then a mixed-use development as part of the student housing development. 

"If I look back at all the master plans done on this, they all had office components," Forsythe said. "Our model is to let the market drive the ultimate use." 

He added that IH's plans represent a high quality development and a headquarters "is a higher investment" than some of the other plans.  "We think this will set the standard for quality and design as we look to redevelop the land under the I-74 bridge." When the new bridge is completed, the city will have nearly 40 acres to redevelop from the river to 7th Avenue, he said.  

Acri applauded the development for its uniqueness as well as what it will do to beautify the vacant once-industrial land. "IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union is not just a company or a corporation, it is member-owned. It's almost like all the community is investing in it," she told the crowd. 

Laufenberg said the credit union has committed to hiring Quad-City labor to assure "the vast majority of the dollars to build this building are kept local."  

Jerry Lack, who leads the Tri-City Building and Construction Trades Council, said IH Mississippi Valley and Russell have signed an IMPACT agreement with the council for the project, meaning the developer promises to use local labor and the project will be built on time and on budget. 

"A lot of our members use credit unions so they have a stake in it as well," he said, adding "A lot of them probably financed their homes through IH." 

For Russell, the project's design and riverfront location make the project interesting. "We're building another statement piece in the Quad-Cities," said Caitlin Russell, the company's project developer. "This is the type building you are going to drive by and go 'Wow.' Those are always fun to be a part of," she added. 

The building also will include a fitness center, large community room, collaboration areas, outdoor walking paths and access to MetroLINK, the Channel Cat water taxi and the bike path. 

"We've experienced tremendous growth the last few years," he said. "In 2017, we put almost $600 million to work in loans for our members." He said the credit union will move in with about 230 employees but has built the building for up to 300. He estimated the credit union will add 80 to 100 new jobs over the next five to 10 years. 

Laufenberg said both the building and site can accommodate future growth. "We wanted to be sure the lot could support a second building someday in the future if it is needed." 

Its location and design also are aimed at recruiting and retaining young talent to the Quad-Cities, which is one of the pillars to the Q2030 Regional Action Plan, he said. With its proximity to Western Illinois, the credit union hopes to increase its collaboration with the university, including providing future internships for students and helping the university identify future skills needs. 

Jerry Butts, a member of Renew Moline, a downtown economic development group he helped found nearly 30 years ago, watched the ground-breaking with a sense of pride. "I don't think initially we had any idea what might result."

Facing the construction site with Western Illinois' campus in the background, he added "It gives me a warm spot in my heart."

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