All Quad-Citians are invited to participate in an April community-wide initiative that was received enthusiastically Tuesday afternoon at the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce economic forecast.
Luke Chandler, chief economist for Deere & Co., discussed national and global economic trends during the hour-long session at John Deere World Headquarters, Moline. After his presentation, a panel of Quad-City economic development experts also discussed trends and achievements.
Chandler started off the session with a global perspective. Positive factors include strong economic growth, he said.
“U.S. consumer confidence is at a 17-year high,” he said, adding that the demand for single-family homes is at a 10-year high.
U.S. farm incomes have stabilized, he said.
Global grain consumption has been increasing for the last 23 years, a trend that will continue, he said.
The global business conditions outlook, he said, includes geopolitical tensions, with trade uncertainly and grain prices that remain range-bound.
In the medium term of the next one to five years, global grains are re-balancing, he said, while farm income continues to stabilize.
After Chandler's presentation, Quad-Citians involved in local economic development discussed opportunities for the area in terms of new development and overall trends from site selectors, retail consultants and local businesses.
Decker Ploehn, Bettendorf city administrator, discussed the Big Table initiative. "That two-day part of April is the most important thing we will do this year," he said.
“April 20 and 21, we are going to have 500 tables throughout the Quad-Cities with 10 to 12 people per table who will initiate conversations about how to improve the Quad-Cities," he said. “We want you to be a part of those conversations."
Sessions will be held in libraries, churches, city halls, back yards and dining-room tables, Ploehn said.
“We’re going to have conversations to discuss the shape of the future of the Quad-Cities,” he said, adding that it will make the community stronger and more connected. “We’re going to inspire civic pride.”
At www.quadcitiesbigtable.com, Quad-Citians can sign up to host a table host or simply participate. He also showed a promotional video about the initiative.
Among the other panelists was Liz Murray Tallman, chief economic development officer for the Quad-Cities Chamber. “As most of you may know, site consultants are a very big part of what we do in economic development,” she said. “Each year, there’s a national survey conducted among site consultants, she said.
“This year, for the first time, we’re seeing a difference in some of those responses.”
The number one site-making decision is workforce, she said,“to locate in a community where the workforce is either trained or trainable.”
Also, quality of place is important, she said. “Because we are looking at a talent-driven economic development world, they want to know , 'Do you have a good place to attract talent?'”
Other panelists included Ray Forsythe, Moline planning and development director; Tim Knanishu, executive director for Revitalize and Develop East Moline; Chandler Poole, Rock Island community and economic development director; and Bruce Berger, Davenport director of community planning and development. Don Doucette, chancellor of Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, was moderator.