Recent polls have shown a rising number of Americans think higher education is bad for the country. So on Wednesday, representatives from seven Quad Cities institutions announced a joint effort to change that.
Augustana College President Steve Bahls emphasized the importance of local colleges in the community.
"These institutions of higher education make a tremendous impact on our economy. Many Quad Citians assume a higher education is unattainable, too expensive. No, but we welcome Quad Citians. We provide significant financial aid to Quad Citians."
The plan is to demonstrate to local residents the colleges are important to the area. One of the initiatives is to put up billboards that highlight student success stories.
One of the success stories is Joe Gomez, chef and owner of Los Primos Mexican Grill. He attended Scott Community College and Black Hawk College.
"It bascially saved my life. I ended up quitting high school, got into into trouble, prison, got out, got my GED, went to [Scott Community College] and Black Hawk, became a chef, graduated, and owned a restaunt for five years. So, it's going good."
College officials say, last year, their institutions boosted the Quad Cities economy by $406 million. There are currently 41,000 alumni living in the area, with over 20,000 students currently enrolled.
The colleges participating in the initiative are: Augustana College, Black Hawk College, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, Palmer College of Chiropractic, St. Ambrose University, Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and Western Illinois University.