Create strong, attractive and functional places in which we live, work, experience and play.
Cool Places refers to the physical structures where residents live, work, journey and play and how those elements enhance our lives. Cool is an attitude, behavior, appearance and style. Cool places do not just happen because we say it, but must be created. In today’s talent-driven economy, cool places matter because they attract people and businesses with an array of options. The Quad Cities region has many attributes that give it a sense of a cool place. With that said, more intentional effort must be dedicated to building additional capacity and promoting existing advantages, not only to external audiences, but also to our existing population.
The presence of the Mississippi River and the opportunities it provides to enhance the Quad Cities’ quality of life, economy and destination appeal was identified as the region’s number one untapped asset by the majority of public input respondents. There are catalytic opportunities to better leverage the Mississippi River to enhance quality of life, quality of place, attraction to talent and regional job creation.
1. Fulfill the vision of the Mississippi River as a transformative Quad Cities amenity: The Mississippi Riverfront in the Quad Cities will become a known destination for its beauty, recreation amenities, shopping and dining opportunities, signature festivals and historical and cultural sites. The River will become a connector, not a divider, and a literal and figurative bridge for Quad Cities communities and constituencies.
2. Create an iconic world-class destination on the Mississippi River: The Mississippi River is a unique Quad Cities amenity that offers the single most transformative opportunity for signature, high-profile, cultural, recreational and commercial developments that will be magnets for people and national attention.
3. Support the environmental sustainability of the Upper Mississippi River ecosystem: Positioning the Mississippi River as the Quad Cities’ signature amenity will not detract from the need to ensure the river remains environmentally sound and sustainable. Many organizations already work to protect the Upper Mississippi River ecosystem and will receive the support and resources necessary to accomplish their missions.
For a region of its size, the Quad Cities area has a wealth of arts and cultural programs, destinations, events, performance spaces, musical performers and venues and educational curricula. Better capturing and leveraging this capacity, coordinating and championing existing organizations and resources and consistently focusing on developing new and exciting products will be important to enhancing the Quad Cities’ quality of life and place.
1. Bring regional partners together behind a consensus and collaborative vision to enhance arts and culture in the Quad Cities: A strong collection of arts and cultural elements will be integrated into a more cohesive and holistic vision for how the Quad Cities can become a recognized arts capital, a magnet for creative professionals and even more compelling for existing residents. Potential action steps include producing an arts and culture master plan that correlates value, investment and regionalizing funding to ensure access and sustainability.
2. Make the Quad Cities an artistic hotbed of the “maker” movement: Advances in so-called “additive” technologies have made designing and producing manufactured goods and materials more accessible and affordable to professionals and hobbyists alike. With its history as a production center and its associated talent capacities, the Quad Cities will become a center of gravity for industrial arts practitioners and purveyors.
3. Enhance the voice and impact of the regional music sector: With a solid base of musical talent, performance venues, non-profit organizational support and employers, the Quad Cities has the opportunity to leverage this capacity to expand the region’s internal and external awareness, success and impact as a music economy. Stakeholders both within and outside the regional music sector will become more vocal in championing the Quad Cities as an existing and potential destination for music.
Long-time and recent Quad Cities stakeholders commented often in public input about the development momentum and growing dynamism of the region’s multiple downtowns and central cities. From the construction of new and renovated lofts, the success of existing and new restaurants and shops, greater appreciation of the districts’ walkability and number of patrons returning to downtowns to work and play, the promise of the region’s core districts is great. Working to sustain and further these trends will help provide dynamic urban environments increasingly in demand by today’s young talent.
1. Ensure the continued success of residential and retail development and amplify commercial development in the Quad Cities’ downtowns: Each of the region’s major core districts has experienced revitalization in recent years. With a major planning process moving forward, Bettendorf is also poised to enhance the dynamism of its core. This success must not be taken for granted. Ongoing efforts from cities, counties, downtown organizations and supporters will continually assess how to sustain and grow all categories of development to continue investment momentum and build a critical mass of assets.
2. Cultivate distinctive downtowns to support collective regional goals: The amenities and opportunities in the Quad Cities’ downtowns are far more powerful when considered as a whole. The distinctive character and assets of each principal downtown will be recognized and celebrated as advancing the competitiveness of the entire region. This will be manifested by more coordinated promotion and event planning to provide a dynamic array of choices for regional residents and visitors.
If neighborhood revitalization and growth can be empowered, healthy communities can be created out of neighborhoods that have experienced disinvestment and decline. Healthy neighborhoods are stable ones where clean and safe streets lead to the retention of businesses and families, and where home values remain strong. Neighborhoods grow by attracting and retaining residents, promoting and growing commercial activity and fostering a sense of community pride.
1. Foster pride in the Quad Cities by prioritizing neighborhood revitalization to create healthy communities with resident appeal and commercial growth:
- Neighborhoods are the core units that affect regional health. By strengthening citizens’ affiliations with their residential and commercial districts, the Quad Cities’ municipalities and the region as a whole will benefit. This will be manifested through processes to define and brand new neighborhoods and refresh existing ones.
- Eligible home, land and business owners will take more advantage of existing tools in cities across the region to upgrade their properties. This will not only come from better awareness of available programs but also from the creation of new incentives that warrant application for one or more Quad Cities neighborhoods.
- Neighborhood affiliation and solidarity will be fostered through the development of diverse and dynamic local events. Information will be provided and easily accessible for community leaders looking to plan and promote neighborhood events.
As many public input participants noted, “there’s never a lack of things to do in the Quad Cities.” This is a tremendous asset for talent and tourism. Capitalizing on this capacity is important as are efforts to add to the diverse mix of established events, especially during the winter months.
1. Support and celebrate existing local and regional events: Rather than adding an array of new events, the region will ensure that existing concerts, festivals and other activities experience maximum promotion and participation.
2. Create a major new off-season event in the Quad Cities: According to public input, the exception to the rule of the Quad Cities’ event culture is the winter months. The lull in destination events during this period was cited often as a real opportunity to boost local spirits by filling this obvious gap. Working together, the Quad Cities will develop a signature winter festival to attract participants from the region and beyond.
As with arts and culture amenities, the Quad Cities already has an impressive array of parks, recreation and trails capacity, especially along and adjacent to the Mississippi River. Extensive planning has also been done to ensure that this capacity remains strong and growing. As with so many other strategic categories in this plan, the goal should be to leverage and sustain existing capacity while also determining the highest-value enhancements to current resources.
1. Provide and maintain the best collection of recreation amenities in the Midwestern U.S.: The Quad Cities will continue planning and development of a compelling array of assets, from passive and active parks and play-spaces to walking and biking trails and opportunities for river activities.
2. Increase the awareness and usage of local and regional facilities: Quad Citizens will venture more frequently to facilities and systems across the region. As with so many components of the Quad Cities quality of life assets, the full breadth of regional amenities can differentiate the community’s standing as a residential and tourism destination.
A consistent theme of public input during the Q2030 process was the lack of a “voice” for certain members of the community – principally the younger generations – who are looking for virtual and physical environments to express their opinions, learn about the viewpoints of others and discuss and share ideas about the Quad Cities and how to improve the region. It will be critical that non-traditional forums provide opportunities to include “new” voices and advance efforts to engage diverse populations in organizations, leadership networks, political discourse and other outlets.
1. Provide opportunities for different Quad Cities constituencies to have their voices heard and pursue collective avenues to affect change: The Quad Cities will become and be seen as a diverse and inclusive place where newcomers and existing residents feel they have outlets to find their niches, speak and be heard, teach and learn, produce art and ideas and work collectively with like-minded individuals to improve their lives and their community.