A Message From Our Tri-Chairs
Over the last two years, more than 4,000 people have contributed to the understanding of our area’s strengths and challenges. The research has been exhaustive, the voices wide-ranging and our enthusiasm for change contagious.
For the first time in the history of our region, business, government, non-profit, academic institutions and the trades have come together for the shared purpose to move our region forward economically. Like never before, Quad Citizens understand the advantage in working together to grow businesses, strengthen our cool place to live and prepare workers for the future.
What has resulted from the Q2030 process is far from your typical regional plan. This one embraces the collaborative spirit of the Quad Cities and the unique characteristics and strengths that make us an extraordinary place with rich resources and high potential. The framework of the plan tackles tough issues facing our bi-state region and leverages opportunities with the highest odds for transformational change. Those issues fall within four priority themes for action:
- Cool Places: Create strong, attractive and functional places in which we live.
- Creative People: Provide young people and workers with the skills and competencies to contribute to the economy and the community.
- Connected Region: Come together and help one another in new ways to improve efficiencies, attitudes and perceptions.
- Prosperous Economy: Use our strengths as a region to retain, attract and create businesses and jobs.
There is no better time for our region to be planning its future. The uncertainty in the global and national economy, Iowa and Illinois’ challenges for adequate and equitable school funding and the current Illinois budget woes have created urgent calls for solutions. Communities that come together and have their priorities in line will be the ones that are most competitive.
While there are new ideas and priorities in the Q2030 Regional Action Plan, there are many ideas already underway that have the possibility for greater potential, capacity and results for our region. By leveraging our collective strength and diversity, exercising a no-excuse attitude and committing to collaboration to align efforts, we can build on the work of our existing community groups and quickly multiply the impact for our region.
The Quad Cities area can be a region that models success. We now have a defined path for transforming it into a place that provides economic opportunity for all who call this area home. It’s called Q2030.
What is Q2030?
The goal of Q2030 is to grow talent, jobs, investments and economic opportunity for all who call the Quad Cities home. All of us share interest in and responsibility for its success. The plan’s vision is: “The Quad Cities region is recognized globally in 2030 for growing and attracting talent and businesses, is energized by a diverse and culturally rich community, inspires innovation and embraces lifelong learning.”
We know this is a great place to live. We boast the iconic Mississippi River, Midwest values, numerous cultural amenities and quality of life options, growing neighborhoods, a strong business community and affordable housing. We also know we have challenges we must face, including slow population growth, disparity in the bi-state business climate, lack of retail options, rising numbers of poor, too many kids entering school unprepared to learn and not enough people equipped with 21st century workforce skills.
The Q2030 plan addresses what can be done to create economic opportunity for everyone who calls the Quad Cities home; build a talented workforce so business owners can find the workers they need to grow; educate workers so they can land the jobs of the future; help us compete with other metro areas in the country and around the globe; and improve our quality of life.
In 2010, the region began to come together in new, innovative ways. The Quad Cities Chamber, our first bi-state-regional economic and business organization was established and its leading investors, the Regional Opportunities Council, assembled a diverse sector of community collaborators to initiate a regional vision process. A movement was ignited when more than 145 business, government and non-profit leaders publicly endorsed the idea of a unified regional vision that would inspire and influence us to think, speak and behave in new ways to transform our region. What resulted from this movement is the Q2030 Regional Action Plan and an Implementation Map, the strongest signal yet the Quad Cities is ready to approach our future in a more unified, collaborative and connected way.
Q2030 is designed to be inclusive and broad in its scope. It is intentional that geographical boundaries are not defined. The plan recognizes a six-county service area that shares common traits and challenges and appreciates the advantage we have in expanding our collaborations and shared goals to:
- Keep talented workers in the region and attract new ones
- Grow new and retain existing jobs
- Provide economic opportunity for everyone who calls the region home
Transforming the region is an aspiring goal that needs ambitious effort behind it. To fulfill the plan’s collective vision, partners from public, private, civic, non-profit and institutional organizations must work together to make it a reality. There has never been a more competitive time in our nation’s history. By coming together around a regional plan, the Quad Cities region is making a bold statement that it is ready for the challenges of today’s economic realities and is taking the necessary steps to overcome them. Community and economic development is a “team sport” that relies on coordinated and collaborative participation from multiple local entities in order to be successful.
A Steering Committee of more than 60 community volunteers representing public and private sectors: business, government, education, non-profit and trades was created. Its job was to dive deeply into what will make the Quad Cities more competitive for jobs, investments and people.
The process started with a review of past studies, plans and reports. New research, stakeholder input and data analysis was then layered in to create an objective interpretation of the region’s key opportunities and challenges. The Steering Committee worked to identify opportunities and unmet community needs as well as to understand the big picture. The idea was not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to build upon the strong foundations already underway wherever possible.
In order to obtain a representative sample of the region’s residents, it was important to hold focus groups and conduct a broad-based community survey. More than 4,000 Quad Citizens participated in the dialogue by providing their input on what they thought was most important to our region’s long-term economic health and quality of life. Q2030 organizers melded together the conclusions from the past and present data, input from community focus groups and the survey, and the results were powerful.
Embrace Shared Principles
Residents, delegates, volunteers and partners helped to identify the guiding principles in which to hold each other accountable in furthering the work and spirit of the Q2030 Regional Action Plan:
- Be open to new ideas
- Encourage diversity of opinion
- Think and act in the best interest of the region
- Speak with respect and regard for all partners
- Share credit for successes and responsibility for challenges
- Demonstrate pride and a positive attitude about the Quad Cities
- Drive strategies that emphasize action and results
- Originate, don’t duplicate
- Invest where there is promise of maximum economic return
The Big Lessons
Through focus groups and a community survey, Quad Citizens provided insights that helped guide the formation of the Q2030 Regional Action Plan. Here are the big lessons learned:
- People are ready for regional approaches that benefit many and leverage the efficiencies that can be gained through collaborative efforts. They expect us to work together.
- Money is not the issue. A lack of money is often used as an excuse for doing nothing. Sure, funds will be scarce in many cases, so it is important to remember the value of aligning resources and leveraging capacity for creative solutions. A willingness to work closely with local partners can elicit resources from those involved to activate and enhance priorities in a way that no single entity can do on its own.
- We must address multiple needs: economic development, training and education, quality of place and quality of life in ways that ultimately connects job and career opportunities for our residents.
- We can’t do it alone. The Quad Cities’ strength lies in its ability to work as a region. We only become more competitive nationally and globally by aligning our priorities and working together for the betterment of our region.
- It can be done. Every community has naysayers. When an idea stretches beyond the reach of an organization or a jurisdiction, someone might be tempted to say “it can’t be done.” What they really mean is “we’ve never done things that way before.” There is broad consensus to embrace a rallying cry to transform our region. Quad Citizens are united around a vision for their community to be a hub for growing business, jobs and opportunity. This time is different; it will be done because there is a movement underway to make it happen.
- Accountability is crucial. People are ready for change that is obvious, dramatic and sustainable. They will want to know the connection between the priorities and that the plan is real.
Bringing the Plans to Life
To implement the plan, Q2030 must be the common guide in planning for cities, counties, businesses, non-profits and academic institutions. It should be held as the ultimate litmus test in the determination of the use of our region’s public and private resources. Success is dependent on the involvement of scores of community partners. Many of the priorities in the plan are already underway in some manner. We expect and encourage current organizations, groups and individuals that are already living out elements of the plan to organically accelerate it by quickly aligning with Q2030, adopting its guiding principles and institutionalizing its leadership and/or support.
Noted in bold in the diagram below are the key initiatives identified through Steering Committee input, survey responses and at discussion meetings. They represent the most impactful priority activities to advance the Quad Cities region. They are the “big rocks” that will cause the broadest domino effect to move the Quad Cities towards its goals.