On April 20 and 21, around 5,000 Quad Citizens joined more than 500 discussions of ways to advance their communities for the Quad Cities Big Table. Quad Cities Station joined in with its own Big Table, which included 14 employees, Illinois state Sen. Neil Anderson and Valley Construction CEO Greg Hass. The discussion ranged from Illinois vs. Iowa demographics, to jobs, to the region's talent pipeline. And in the end, everyone present agreed that each and every one of us can play a part in bridging the gaps that exist in the region. Here are a few highlights from the Quad Cities Station Big Table discussion.
- We need skilled people in the Quad Cities to fill jobs that currently go vacant, such as in the construction trades. We need new methods of attracting and retaining skilled talent to the area. The Q2030 Regional Action plan has put forth a good roadmap, but we're not there yet as a region.
- The Quad Cities' greatest strength is its regionalism. The Quad Cities is one of the hubs of the Midwest. "We also have the hardest working people in the country here," Neil Anderson said.
- There are great opportunities coming in the form of the new I-74 bridge and passenger rail. How will these opportunities be capitalized on by the cities, particularly Moline since both will be in that city on the Illinois side?
- Community pride is an issue in the Quad Cities. Most people who live here and come here for job opportunities do enjoy living here, however, collectively don't celebrate the Quad Cities. How do we lift up the communities suffering the most? The city of Rock Island was used as an example. It has a rich history, but people don't want to move there. People think it's a bad place to live. It was also discussed why the Iowa Quad Cities seem to be growing far more than the Illinois Quad Cities.
- Job opportunities bring a lot of young professionals to the Quad Cities. What can we do now to improve our communities? How do we get the word out that this is a great place to live, work and play?
- Young professionals desire quality of life amenities. Many leave the Quad Cities because it lacks a lot of amenities that other major cities offer. Can we turn this around and how?
- How do we greater cultivate our homegrown/local talent? Let's find ways to uplift and propel this group as well. It seems that much of the focus is on those who transplant here and not so much on those who are already here, possibly even born and raised here.
Learn more about the local initiative at www.quadcitiesbigtable.com.