Thanks to all who joined us for the 2014 GREDF Annual Meeting on January 8th. We had a great crowd and were excited to share economic development and business highlights from 2013, as well as unveil our 2014 Strategic Plan. In case you missed the evening, or would like to take a closer look, here’s the feature presentation given by outgoing Chairman of the Board, Mr. Tim Finlay.
Great River Economic Development Foundation
2014 Annual Meeting Presentation
January 8, 2014
Presented by: Tim Finlay, Chairman of the Board of Directors
This has been an exciting year at GREDF. A year ago, we celebrated the retirement of Jim Mentesti and thanked him for his 27 years of service to our region. In March, we welcomed new GREDF President, Marcel Wagner, who has hit the ground running.
Many people have commented to me that they like to come to the GREDF Annual Meeting because this is the place they can receive an overview of the activities helping to drive positive economic growth.
Tonight, we’ll do just that, but my comments will be brief so that Marcel can introduce the new GREDF Strategic Plan to you. The Strategic Plan is the roadmap for growth for our city, county and region. We believe tonight’s theme, “Growing from Here”, captures the spirit of this plan and the economic development activities it entails.
Our region has been blessed with a great foundation, a platform if you will, for economic growth. The river, a robust highway transportation system and homegrown manufacturing and agricultural base are just a few of the assets that make us strong. Combine these with the greatest asset we have – our people – the people that live and work here, who have vision, determination and good old-fashioned work ethic, – and we believe that our area is poised for continued growth.
Let’s take a look back at the businesses, people and activities that have laid the groundwork for the possibilities ahead, starting with business retention and expansion.
Business Retention & Expansion
Prince Agri Products is growing again. The company took advantage of the City’s Economic Development Loan Program to extend a sewer line to its $3.5 million dollar, 12,000 square-foot addition on its South Quincy Development District campus. Expecting to hire six new employees, company officials now say they’re currently looking to fill two to three times that number to keep up with demand. Prince Agri officials cited a good working relationship with City and economic development officials, and an accessible workforce among the reasons for their continued investment in the Quincy area.
Trinity Containers L.L.C., a subsidiary of Trinity Industries Inc., has doubled its workforce in Quincy over the past year. Trinity Industries Inc. is a diversified industrial company that owns a variety of market-leading businesses which provide products and services to the industrial, energy, transportation and construction sectors. Trinity Containers is a leading international manufacturer of pressure vessels that currently employs more than 100 people in their Quincy manufacturing and logistics operations.
Gardner Denver has invested heavily in their Quincy manufacturing operations over the past year. The company has made significant capital investments including the purchase of new equipment and transformation of their manufacturing footprint. In 2014, the company plans to invest over $4 million dollars locally which includes the installation of a flood wall and gates.
Titan International is on pace to set record global revenue over $2 billion dollars in 2013 thanks in part to their continuing international growth strategy. The company, which was started and is headquartered in Quincy, employs over 8,000 people worldwide including approximately 1,000 in Quincy. Titan completed construction of a new building at the former site of Huck’s Corporation in 2013 to house their state-of-the-art Powder Coat Painting System. Along with their local investments into their business and people, Titan, as with many of the companies we mention tonight, is involved in the community.
The Knapheide Manufacturing Company proudly calls Quincy home and employs over 1200 team members throughout the Great River region. As the nation’s leading manufacturer of utility body and work solutions for commercial vehicles, Knapheide witnessed tremendous growth in 2013 requiring over 150 new manufacturing associates in Quincy alone. As a result, Knapheide achieved industry-leading market share and continues to foresee robust demand and growth for 2014 and beyond. To support future growth and product demand, Knapheide continues its longstanding partnership with John Wood Community College to develop vocational training programs in order to equip its workforce with world-class manufacturing skills for today and the future.
Archer Daniels Midland Company opened an intermodal container freight shipping and receiving facility in Decatur this past fall. This means there are more shipping and logistics opportunities available to companies in the Quincy area. GREDF and ADM Alliance Nutrition hosted ADM’s Managing Director of Intermodal and Container Freight in October to speak with area businesses about these opportunities.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois hired 169 new staff members for their Quincy office in 2013, bringing local employment numbers up to 836. The company has had a number of internal promotional opportunities and continues to hire and assess needs based on anticipated growth due to the Healthcare Exchange environment.
Timewell Tile has experienced growth in the last year which is continuing into 2014. The company currently employs 260 employees compared to 215 at this time last year. Timewell opened a new manufacturing facility in Iowa, began production of a new product line at its headquarters in Timewell and added a new crew and trencher to their ADI Field Installation Division based out of Golden.
Inc. Magazine recently included major regional employer, Dot Foods, on its list of the 5,000 Fastest Growing Private Companies for 2013. The ranking is based on 2012 revenues of $4.5 billion dollars and a three-year growth rate in excess of 34 percent. When a new 110,000-square-foot cooler warehouse is completed in the next few months, the company will have the capacity to add 50 new jobs in Mount Sterling. 487 of Dot’s 2,100 employees reside in Adams County.
It’s been another groundbreaking year for Blessing Hospital and the Blessing Health System. Quincy’s largest employer is on track to complete a $70 million dollar patient care addition in January 2015. Meanwhile, the third medical office building in the Blessing Health Center was completed in June. These brick and mortar investments are joined by Blessing Health System’s biggest news of the year, its agreement with the BJC Collaborative, a partnership among health care systems throughout Illinois, Missouri and Eastern Kansas. Blessing joined the Collaborative with the goal to improve the quality and efficiency of health care in the region.
Despite the loss of the former Newcomb Hotel to fire this past fall, lots of great things are happening in the Historic Quincy Business District – new businesses, 93% occupancy, parking lots, Main Street awards and recent major announcements including the former Carson Apartments purchase by Austin Properties and the City Center Hotel purchase by Tracy Holdings which just last week signed a franchise agreement with Choice Hotels to renovate and brand the property as a new Quality Inn and Suites. Thanks to the vision of business and property owners, both small and large, downtown is growing and its future is bright.
Because business retention and expansion efforts are at the top of our priorities, GREDF partnered with the City and County to conduct a Business Survey in June of last year. Thank you to all who participated. Your feedback helped us identify the issues most important to our business community, and it gives us a platform for addressing those issues. We plan to conduct this survey annually and I would personally like to encourage all of you to participate.
As identified in the survey, workforce development is both a threat and opportunity for area employers. The availability of skilled labor is a key factor in site selection and expansion decisions and our ability to retain and attract businesses directly impacts the capacity of our families to grow financially.
This is why GREDF is committed to meaningful and measurable workforce development initiatives. In April, more than 40 leaders came together to discuss workforce issues in Adams County and to develop a shared vision for long-term change.
Participants in this Mini Summit included representatives from secondary and post-secondary education, staffing services and a number of community-based agencies. The United Way of Adams County, the Workforce Investment Board of Western Illinois, John Wood Community College and GREDF hosted the event.
As a result of this meeting, a steering committee of community leaders has been assembled and teams have been established to address the three most critical issues identified.
First, the Career Guidance Team is working with businesses to help identify and share career opportunities and earning potential available in the Adams County region. Second, the Work Readiness Team helps individuals understand what qualities they will need to be successful, productive employees and citizens. And third, the Succession Planning Team is helping to ensure that as workers retire, the knowledge of those retirees stays with local companies and within our communities.
All three teams have met and are in the process of developing missions and measurable goals.
More than 300 high school students toured local manufacturing facilities in October before attending a Manufacturing Expo at the John Wood Workforce Development Center. The tours and expo were part of a day-long event coordinated by John Wood and GREDF to show students manufacturing career opportunities available right here in their own backyard.
Manufacturing jobs in Adams County represent good careers and head-of-household salaries. There were over 5,000 people employed in manufacturing in Adams County with an average salary of over $49,000 dollars according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manufacturing represents 17.5% of the total employment in Adams County as compared to 12% in the State of Illinois and just under 11% in the country as a whole.
Our local post-secondary educational institutions are focused on preparing students to enter the 21st century regional workforce.
John Wood has been awarded a $2.1 million dollar grant to help create and expand innovative partnerships with businesses to educate and train workers with skills employers need in today’s marketplace.
An anonymous donor gifted $2 million dollars to Quincy University to renovate and expand the QU Center for Science at the university’s North Campus. And in November, QU received a $436,000 dollar grant from an anonymous local foundation to create an Academic Success Center on campus that will provide enhanced academic and career services to all QU students.
Area employers will benefit from the commitment of our educational institutions to prepare students for successful careers.
When it comes to business attraction, personal relationships make all the difference. That’s why the GREDF team has spent much of 2013 cultivating those personal relationships with businesses and site consultants and leveraging Marcel’s experience and contacts to promote our region’s assets.
In June, GREDF project manager, Megan Backs attended Industry Week’s Expansion Management Roundtable in Florida. She met with eight site consultants and attended a number of presentations on the site selection process, project financing and workforce issues.
In October, Marcel attended the Annual Conference of the International Economic Development Council as well as Industry Week’s Expansion Management Roundtable where he met with top-level consultants that actively work with companies making location and expansion decisions.
In addition to these industry-sponsored events, Marcel has met face-to-face with key site selection contacts in Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Paul, as well as sent hundreds of personal emails to site consultants and corporate real estate executives. While business attraction doesn’t happen overnight, we’re confident in the potential for future investment as a result of our efforts.
GREDF will be leading the effort to enhance and develop a brand for Quincy and Adams County that captures the essence and value of our region. Part of this new branding effort will emphasize our commitment to regionalism.
In November, the Tri-State Development Summit and its 35 counties was designated a Great Region by the USDA. The Summit has long recognized and worked to accomplish the task of assessing regional needs and identifying resources to meet those needs. The Great Regions designation will be another tool in our marketing toolbox.
The Summit’s Transportation Task Force held a meeting in Macomb in November to discuss transportation and highway issues. Task Force members think in terms of highway systems such as the CKC and Avenue of the Saints, rather than point-to-point roads. While these area leaders can point to decades of transportation successes, the challenge they face moving forward is a general lack of funding.
In addition to the work we do on behalf of the Tri-State Summit, GREDF has been involved in efforts that share the issues, assets and opportunities of the Quincy and Adams County region with the outside world.
Marcel took part in Congressman Aaron Schock’s Washington, D.C. Fly-In along with Mayor Moore and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amy Looten. While there, Marcel presented an overview of critical issues facing the Quincy and Adams County Region.
Entrepreneurship is a vital rural economic development strategy. Small enterprises are responsible for a large portion of the job growth and innovation in a rural region like ours.
We are able to make entrepreneurship development part of our overall strategy because of the experience and work of Charles Bell. As Director of the Entrepreneurship Center, Charles worked with over 50 clients in 2013, assisting with start-up, expansion and succession planning, site selection and financing. As a result, over a dozen entrepreneurs have started or expanded their business.
Several Quincy area organizations including GREDF, hosted an informational event for aspiring entrepreneurs in August. The event included a presentation by the Small Business Development Center and opportunities to speak one-on-one with experts about financing a small business, marketing and sales, legal and tax issues and human resources.
Economic development is not an endeavor of a single person or single organization. You’re here this evening because you understand successful economic development is a partnership and an intentional process.
For our city, county and region to grow, we need to be aggressive and we need to have focused goals. You are an important part of our efforts to grow this region. Thank you for what you do to support economic development in our area and for your support of GREDF.
What you are going to see from Marcel this evening is that GREDF has an aggressive plan to promote economic growth and is committed to executing this plan. Together, we, all of us, will continue to develop and grow this region to be the best it can be.