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Quad-Cities welcome new community leaders

Several Quad-Cities organizations experienced changes in leadership during 2018.

Last spring, Moline native Paul Rumler took over as president and CEO of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, replacing former CEO Tara Barney. Since taking on the position, Rumler has been working to restructure the Chamber and has added a greater emphasis on supporting small and medium businesses. 

After 20 years as president and CEO of the Quad-Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, Joe Taylor retired this past year. He accepted a new position in Evansville, Ind. His replacement, Dave Herrell of Jacksonville, Fla., took helm of the QCCVB this past fall.

Herrell quickly changed the organization's name to Visit Quad-Cities, and will announce more structural changes in the coming months.

Starting Oct. 29, Rene Gellerman was named president and CEO of United Way of the Quad-Cities. Former president Scott Crane resigned earlier this year after 10 years on the job.

Gellerman formerly was senior vice president of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce. She worked at the Chamber for the last 12 years, serving most recently as senior vice president and loaned executive to Q2030.

In addition, the Quad-City International Airport welcomed a new leader this past year, following the retirement of Bruce Carter, who directed the airport for 19 years. Seattle airport executive Ben Leischner was named executive director and began his new position in May. 

Also this past year, Kevin Maynard, former executive director of Galesburg's Orpheum Theatre, was named CEO of Quad-City Arts, succeeding Carmen Darland who retired after leading the organization for the past decade. And Tyson Danner, community arts director for Quad-City Arts, was named interim executive director of River Music Experience, following the resignation of Deb Sandry Powers. 

Eastern Iowa Industrial Center development takes off

The Eastern Iowa Industrial Center in Davenport saw a huge boost in development in 2018, including millions of dollars in new investment and hundreds of new jobs. 

Plastic wares manufacturer Sterilite built a 2.6-million-square foot production facility near the new Kraft Heinz plant, which became operational last year. The Sterilite plant, which received more than $18 million in incentives, created about 500 new jobs.

Construction continued on the Kraft plant in 2018, and in addition, 7G Distributing LLC, a local, family-owned distributor of Anheuser-Busch products chose to relocate to the site. The company built a $15 million, 110,000-square foot warehouse on 14.5 acres at the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center. 

And after a 13-year-long process, the first train cars are now traveling to the industrial center, bringing goods to the Sterilite plant and potentially other businesses in the future. 

Big box stores close doors

This past year was a challenging one for national big box retailers.

January brought the closure of Sam's Club in Moline. In March, Toys R Us announced it was heading toward liquidation, shuttering all of its stores this past summer, including those in Moline and Davenport. 

The following month, Bon-Ton filed for bankruptcy, eventually leading to the closure of its stores, including Younkers locations in Davenport, Moline and Muscatine. 

This fall, Best Buy closed its Moline store — near the shuttered Younkers and Toys R Us stores — but officials said the Davenport location will remain open. K-Mart in Moline joined the list of closing stores this fall.

The loss will mean the end of the retailer's presence in the Quad-Cities. 

While several big boxes have closed in the Quad-Cities, other national retailers have opened up in the area, including Costco Wholesale, which opened in Davenport this past fall. But several empty big box stores continue to clutter the market. 

Bettendorf sports complex spurs new development

A new $50 million indoor/outdoor sports complex sprawled across 76 acres at Middle and Forest Grove roads in Bettendorf — in full view of Interstate 80 — opened this past spring.

A longtime wish-list item for the city of Bettendorf, developer Doug Kratz fitted the TBK Bank Sports Complex with indoor soccer fields, sand volleyball and hardwood courts, along with outdoor fields and a two-story High 5 Lanes & Games entertainment center. 

The complex has attracted sports teams from across the Midwest since its opening, and it's also spurring development at the I-80 interchange.

Construction is underway at a new Cambria Hotel next door to the sports complex, and several retail centers are readying to open.

This winter, Cheesy Cow Mac & Cheesery, Hurts Donut Co. and Coffee Hound opened in the corridor. Businesses to come include a restaurant, pub, pizza takeout place, Temple's Sporting Goods, Subway, an ice cream shop and more. 

Developer Kevin Koellner, with Build to Suit, hopes the success of local retailers in the area will attract more national retailers to open up shop. 

East Moline finds its way

This winter, a new Hyatt hotel opened in East Moline — a catalyst for dozens of other new projects across the city.

The $40 million Hyatt House/Hyatt Place hotel opened at the former Case-International Harvester plant. It's the headliner of what's called The Bend of the Mighty Mississippi development on 132 acres along the river. 

After plans for the hotel were announced, other developments began to take shape, including a separate event center, outdoor stage and new apartments.

Upstream, 40 acres of old industrial land are being transformed into a new 4,000-capacity music venue, architecture studio, coffee shop, restaurant and more.

At the same time, several East Moline residents have been working to redevelop the downtown by renovating buildings, opening businesses and cleaning up streets. 

Eldridge advances industrial park plans

The city of Eldridge took a step forward this year in its long-discussed plans for creating a 500-acre industrial and commercial park.

In September, the city council voted to begin pursuing site certification from the State of Iowa for the future park. State certification can be a 2 to 2 1/2-year process but the designation tells developers the site is shovel ready.

The proposed park would be "the biggest park in the Quad-Cities," said Eldridge Mayor Marty O'Boyle.

Now privately owned by multiple landowners, the proposed site is situated between Eldridge and north Davenport.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority rolled out the Iowa Certified Site Program in 2012 to address the lack of project-ready industrial sites in the state. It has since certified 20 sites statewide and is working on applications for 16 additional sites.

If certified, Eldridge would join the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center in Davenport and the Lincolnway Industrial Rail & Air Park in Clinton.

Eldridge's application is expected to be accepted in IEDA's next round in January.

-Jennifer DeWitt

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