Rock Island city leaders say a Dunkin' Donuts location currently under construction is a sign of more business development to come.
Mayor Mike Thoms and several city council members broke ground Tuesday on the donut shop on 18th Avenue on a site where the former Audubon Elementary School stood until it was torn down in 2013.
"What this means is an indication to the community that Rock Island is progressing forward, that businesses do want to come to Rock Island, and that we have a strong base that will support businesses here," said Alderman David Geenen, who represents southeast Rock Island on the City Council.
Rock Island has in recent years struggled to draw large retailers. Most noticeably, two years ago, Walmart decided not to build a Supercenter on Watch Tower Plaza after millions of dollars of public money was spent to entice the retailer.
That happened under the watch of former Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley. Current Mayor Mike Thoms (TOMES) said earlier this year that Rock Island has learned its lesson and is now taking a different approach: try to attract small business owners, not big-box retailers.
The franchisee of the new Rock Island Dunkin' Donuts expects the shop to open in September or October.
It will be located just a block away from where another Dunkin' was located until 1999. It closed amid a lawsuit between the owner and the corporate office involving copyright infringement and health standards.