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QC Chamber Will Manage Downtown Rock Island

Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce

As it does for downtown Davenport and Bettendorf, the Quad Cities Chamber will manage downtown Rock Island, under a new contract with the city of Rock Island.

Through a $225,000, two-year contract, the Chamber will hire a director who will explore creation of a downtown place management organization; choose a funding model for it; help enhance public spaces, encourage investment and improve quality of life, and market the downtown as a great place to live, work, and play.

Chamber President and CEO Paul Rumler says under the contract, the city will pay the chamber using tax-increment financing funds over two years. The director's salary will be $55,000 to $60,000, with plans to hire within 45 days.

“We’re looking for an individual who will be good in an external capacity – meaning they’re going to be working with stakeholders a lot. So getting to know the businesses and stakeholders of downtown, as well as residents and city officials, and really work in a collaborative manner to bring forward the goals and aspirations of the downtown community.”

Credit Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce
QC Chamber President and CEO Paul Rumler

The chamber will establish a downtown steering committee to include property owners, business owners, and downtown stakeholders. The steering committee will be a forum for discussing downtown issues, provide ongoing feedback to the director, and function as a policy making body for the downtown organization as appropriate.

With the new contract, Rock Island will have a downtown manager who'll make recommendations on the appropriate use of the remaining $1.5 million in Downtown TIF funds. The new position’s goal is to foster relationships with stakeholders while exploring the creation, funding model, and implementation of a downtown Rock Island Place Management Organization within the Quad Cities Community Partnership.

Rumler says the new director will approve a new organization and funding model by 2023, and the steering committee will transition to a board of directors. There also will be a new downtown website and social media presence.

A downtown task force appointed by Mayor Mike Thoms was formed during 2020 to continue implementation of the city’s 2015 Downtown Revitalization Plan. The task force recommended establishment of a downtown place management services agreement.

Currently, the chamber has agreements for Bettendorf and Davenport, through the Downtown Davenport Partnership and Downtown Bettendorf Organization. The Davenport group has been around since the 1970s and Bettendorf since 2019.

Both are funded through self-supporting municipal improvement districts, in which downtown property owners pay additional taxes to support growth and development of the area. A similar arrangement may be proposed for downtown Rock Island – in Illinois, the comparable term is a special service area, Rumler says, noting Moline and East Moline both have them.

“That’s certainly something that downtown Rock Island stakeholders have talked in recent months, as well as city officials. They’ve eyed that as a potential step to take. As part of this contract the Quad Cities Chamber has with the city of Rock Island, our charge is to work with the stakeholders of downtown – not just the traditional District, but of the downtown region -- to determine what its future is going to be."

“To help get that feedback from residents, employees and workers; from businesses, property owners, from city officials – and really think about how it can transform over the coming years, and then what sustainable funding mechanism to support that over the years. If the stakeholders agree that an SSA is something they’d like to pursue, then this group will pursue it.”

Moline Centre Main Street was created in 2009 and became a division under the city of Moline in 2010. In 2014, the program was contracted out to the Quad Cities Chamber, and in 2019, the program returned to the city. The program - including staff, activities and marketing - is funded from two downtown special service areas. Property owners within the two SSAs pay additional property taxes that can be spent only to benefit their district.

For more information on the new Rock Island job, visit the chamber blog at www.quadcitieschamber.com.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.