Regional Leaders Talk Transportation, Economic Development in Hannibal
A summit that brings together business, government and community leaders from throughout the tri-state region reached a milestone on Wednesday, May 7.
Former Quincy Mayor Chuck Scholz admitted that he did not know what to expect during that first summit in Canton, Mo.
"Actually, I thought if we could just do it once, it would be an achievement," says Scholz. "To get everybody under one roof and adopt a common agenda."
Getting everybody under one roof has not been a problem.
More than 300 people attended this year, including Keokuk Ia. Mayor Tom Marion, his wife Debbie, who chairs the depot commission, Jim Hankes with First Community Bank, and Terry Knoke with Poepping, Stone, Bach and Associates.
The idea of a regional summit grew out of the Flood of 1993.
Scholz says the summit has done wonders in promoting regionalism and bringing entities together.
"Prior to the flood of 1993, we had some regional rivalries and some natural competition on things like economic development," says Scholz. "In Quincy, Il, we have learned what's good for Keokuk is good for Quincy and what's good for Hannibal is good for Quincy and hopefully what's good for Quincy is good for those communities."
Scholz says the mission statement of the Tri-State Development Summit says it all.
"To bring together Tri-State area leaders to define common issues; To develop an on-going dialogue to effectively address those issues; And to improve the quality of life of the entire tri-state region through economic development activities."
The four-hour summit in Hannibal focused primarily on economic development and transportation.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Mike Downing talked about how their states are striving to become business-friendly and preparing for the future jobs in science and mathematics. They also touted recent successes.
One of those successes was even on display as Iowa Fertilizer Company President Shawn Rana updated the crowd on the progress at the plant being built near Wever. He says more than 1,400 workers are on-site with a total of 2,500 expected before construction wraps up in 2015.
The challenges associated with the aging lock & dam system on the Mississippi River and the dwindling pots of money for transportation projects in all three states were also on display.
The Tri-State Development Summit was designated as a "Great Region" by the USDA in 2013.
It consists of 35 counties covering nearly 19,000 square miles and a population exceeding 650,000.