January 14, 2015
Dan Henke, Chairman of the Board
[Click here to view the Prezi, including videos, that accompanied this speech.]
This has been a year of action for GREDF and our region. Last year at this meeting, we introduced our new strategic plan to you. The plan was designed as a road map for our economic development activities. It guides our organization’s investment of time and money in initiatives, and projects, and provides direction by anticipating and responding to changes in the local and national economy.
Our mission at GREDF is to maintain and improve the economic vitality of the Quincy and Adams County, Illinois, region through the retention and expansion of existing businesses and the attraction of new businesses to our entire region. To that end, we focus on six goals, which we will highlight this evening: Business Retention and Expansion, Workforce Development, Business Attraction, Marketing/Branding, Entrepreneurship Development and Membership.
We are pleased with the progress our region has made over the last year. Many of our area companies are growing, our logistics capabilities are increasing and we are investing in our future workforce. We believe our area is poised for growth. So let’s take a look back at the businesses, people and activities that have laid the groundwork for the opportunities ahead… starting with a quick video…
[Business Retention & Expansion]
What a wonderful success story. By becoming GatesAir, the company has incorporated its Quincy legacy while looking to the future of over-the-air TV and radio technology. As they continue to expand operations at their state-of-the-art manufacturing, supply chain and fulfillment center in Quincy, GatesAir is just one of our area companies hanging the “Now Hiring” sign on their front door.
Let’s take a look at some of the more notable stories of business expansion and investment from the past year. I have a lot to cover here so I’ll move fast.
Rack Builders completed a 20,000 square-foot addition to its Quincy factory this summer which allows it to increase capacity, grow the workforce, improve productivity and better serve its customers.
Prince Agri Products opened another new plant in March to expand production of its Animate Nutritional Specialty product. The 12,000 square-foot facility is supporting a five-fold increase in production.
Trinity Containers LLC, a subsidiary of Trinity Industries, doubled its workforce in 2013 growing to over 100 employees at their Quincy operations. The international manufacturer of pressure vessels added additional jobs in 2014 which precipitated the need for a new parking lot on Gardner Expressway.
Gardner Denver completed the final portion of a flood wall that wraps around their property. CEO Peter Wallace joined local dignitaries in October to celebrate the $1.65 million dollar investment. The company added 50 employees in the last year in Quincy and now employs 400 people locally.
One of the region’s largest employers announced plans in June to take its foodservice redistribution concept abroad. Dot Foods and Mexico-based RJ Alimentos formed a joint venture redistribution company named RD Amerimex. With two major Mt. Sterling warehouse expansions in 2014 and 2015, the company’s extraordinary growth close to home also continues.
Hollister-Whitney Elevator Company has expanded into the former Glenarye building across the street from the company’s headquarters in the Schneidman Industrial Park. They have added about 50 new jobs over the past year and are poised for continued growth.
Local development company, ASL Properties, purchased the Quincy Regional Airport Spec Building this summer from Baldwin Partners, LLC, of which GREDF was a partner. ASL is leasing the building to Air USA, a U.S. Government Contractor based in Quincy that provides tactical services to the U.S. Defense Agencies, Defense Contractors and Foreign Governments. Air USA employs a team of more than a dozen former U.S. military fighter pilots, aircraft maintenance personnel and logistics specialists.
Blessing Hospital officials expect the $70 million dollar patient addition named the Moorman Pavilion to be open by spring. Up to 150 workers have been on the job at times during construction.
Quincy Salvation Army officials plan to open their new Family Thrift Store on Broadway by July 1st. The 25,000 square-foot store will replace and double the space of the current thrift store on Maine.
Peoples Prosperity Bank broke ground on a new 9,000 square-foot banking center located at 3215 Maine Street during a ceremony on October 22nd. It is expected to be open by the fall.
Quincy Newspapers, Inc., is adding nine stations to its broadcasting portfolio pending regulatory approval. As a result of the acquisition, QNI will own and/or operate 23 stations in 14 television markets.
Our strategic goal in 2014 was to make one official business retention and expansion visit per week to our area companies. I am happy to report that our staff exceeded this goal and participated in over 70 retention visits last year. Because of these visits, we are able to identify and respond to opportunities and threats facing our area businesses. Thank you to those of you who opened your doors to us in 2014 and we look forward to sitting down with many more of you in 2015.
In October, Mason and over 300 Adams County high school students toured area manufacturing facilities to learn about career opportunities available right here in their own backyard. The students also participated in the Manufacturing Expo at the John Wood Workforce Development Center and got up close and personal with state-of-the-art training equipment and products made by some of the nearly 100 manufacturers in the region.
The availability of skilled labor is a key factor in site selection and expansion decisions. Because GREDF is committed to meaningful and measurable workforce development initiatives, we welcomed Angela Caldwell to our team this summer. Angela’s focus is to facilitate workforce initiatives in the region and she has hit the ground running.
Since the initial Adams County Workforce Summit in April 2013, three workforce teams have been actively addressing the most pressing workforce issues. Plans for a second Workforce Summit are in the works for 2015.
The Career Guidance Team has been working toward its mission to encourage and foster awareness of careers; educate youth and job seekers about area career opportunities; and build connections between families and local employers.
In August, the Work Readiness Team unveiled its Essential Workplace Skills which is a list of pre-employment, foundational and high performance skills. The Team went on to validate the skills by obtaining employer and agency endorsements. The list is being shared with area agencies to ensure prospective employees get the tools they need to develop these skills and find employment.
Many of our area companies will be facing a shortage of workers in the coming years due to retirements. To address this challenge, the Workforce Transition Planning Team is identifying and nurturing current younger employees to help advance their leadership skills.
An important partner in our workforce activities, John Wood Community College, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014. According to a study, JWCC is a $22 million dollar economic engine annually for the area, adds skills to the region’s workforce, boosts the competitiveness of businesses and increases earnings for students who graduate from College.
Quincy University announced plans in December to renovate historic QU Stadium with a $4 million dollar investment by a California-based developer. The renovations have already begun and are slated for completion by fall 2015. The improved facilities will benefit the entire region.
The biggest education-related news of 2014 was the passing of the Quincy Public Schools Building Referendum in November. The GREDF Board of Directors came out in unanimous support of the referendum because the presence of high quality schools and facilities is essential to a strong economic development program.
In addition to providing our students modern and safe learning environments, the $89 million dollar project will sustain a construction industry that has been going strong for several years. Work on the schools, which will be staggered over the next four to five years, should create and retain over 700 construction jobs and even more indirect jobs.
Attracting new business is arguably one of the most challenging parts of an economic development program. It’s a good thing we like a challenge.
The GREDF team spent 2014 cultivating personal relationships with businesses and site consultants outside the region as part of our business attraction efforts. We exceeded our goal to meet one-on-one with 40 site consultants by attending Industry Week Expansion Management’s Roundtable in the Rockies, an Ameren-sponsored Consultants Forum in Ohio, the International Economic Development Council annual conference in Ft. Worth, Texas, and two Community Venture Network meetings in Minneapolis.
These meetings allow us to promote our region’s assets and meet with top-level consultants who are actively working with companies that are making location and expansion decisions.
One of the region’s most promising assets is one step closer to reality. In October, the Mid-America Intermodal Port received $1.1 million dollars from the Illinois Jobs Now capital construction program. The investment will help complete the planning and design phase for the estimated $80 million dollar intermodal port project, which will be developed as a public-private partnership.
The Mid-America Port is planned to be fully intermodal and is an ideal logistics location. The investment translates to economic growth and jobs for Quincy and the entire Tri-state region and will not only help our current businesses grow, but also help us attract new businesses to our communities.
Modernizing and strengthening our nation’s inland waterways system is critical to our long-term success and business attraction efforts which is why we were pleased to see two additional major announcements on this front in 2014.
The Upper Mississippi stretching from St. Louis to St. Paul, was officially designated the M-35 Waterway of the Saints Marine Highway. This designation will boost efforts to upgrade locks, build ports and ship freight along the waterway.
Congressman Aaron Schock highlighted congressional action to improve inland waterway infrastructure at a press conference at Quincy’s Lock and Dam 21 in December. A 9-cent increase in fuel used by barges and other river craft passed by both the House and Senate will generate around $80 million dollars a year for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. The industry-sought user fee increase will allow additional money to flow to priority navigation projects.
In other infrastructure news, Adams Networks and the City of Quincy announced plans to bring ultra-high-speed internet access to homes in Quincy. Adams broke ground in their pilot “Fiberhood” in mid-July. Becoming a Fiber City is a selling point for Quincy. Reliable, state-of-the-art infrastructure provides more value to our residents and encourages entrepreneurship.
GREDF staff spent 2014 working on preserving an essential tool in our economic development toolbox. Together with the City of Quincy’s Planning and Development staff, we prepared the application for re-authorization of the Adams and Brown County Enterprise Zone. The process included collecting the necessary data and obtaining approval from taxing bodies in order to submit the final application by December 31st. The Enterprise Zone is the single best tool our communities can use to stimulate capital investment and job creation.
There were a lot of positives in 2014, but that doesn’t mean we were immune to the challenges, most recently the announcement of the closing of J.C. Penney’s in the Quincy Mall. It is never a good thing to lose a major retailer, but we, along with our partners, are hopeful that another retailor will take the anchor position in our strong, regional commercial center. GREDF staff will assist Quincy Mall and Cullinan Properties in any way we can as they work diligently to replace the store and continue to invest in the mall’s future.
A significant blow to our region came when Quincy Compressor officials announced they would be closing their facility in Quincy and consolidating operations at their headquarters in Alabama. A task force comprised of City and DCEO officials, workforce leaders and GREDF staff presented company officials with two different incentive packages to keep and even expand their operations in Quincy, but we were ultimately turned down. The task force has remained active behind the scenes, assisting employees with retraining opportunities and finding new positions in the Quincy area, as well as showing the building to potential buyers.
On a positive note, we are pleased to welcome Lehigh Fluid Power to Quincy. Just announced yesterday, the New Jersey-based manufacturer of hydraulic and other cylinders, has entered into an agreement with Quincy Compressor to purchase Ortman Fluid Power. GREDF has assisted Lehigh Fluid Power throughout the process including locating manufacturing space in the Quincy Development Center. The purchase, which will be finalized next month, means 15 jobs will be retained in Quincy.
This branding initiative is an effort involving several key area organizations working together to: establish a marketable and recognizable brand which captures the essence and value of Quincy and Adams County and develop an effective and comprehensive marketing and public relations campaign based on this brand.
The potential impact and benefits of this project include retention and recruitment of talent, attractiveness to new businesses, increased tourism and a sense of pride and satisfaction for current residents. Thanks to monetary commitments from each participating organization, work will begin soon to connect the soul of our community with the heart of our consumers.
An event that has earned brand recognition over the years, the Tri-State Development Summit, took place on May 7th in Hannibal. Since its inception in 1996, the Summit has achieved success in a number of important regional projects, including the completion of more than 1,300 miles of priority highways.
The 2014 Summit kept waterways, transportation and regionalism at the forefront with a lineup of speakers that included Governor Terry Branstad, Colonel Mark Deschenes and Jeff Finkle, president and CEO of the International Economic Development Council, who praised the Summit for being “a partnership of the highest order”.
One of the most significant achievements of the Tri-State Summit Transportation Task Force has been the Macomb bypass. In October former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced that $35 million dollars in capital investment was to be released to pave two of the planned four lanes of the bypass. The Macomb bypass has long been a regional transportation priority because it will attract traffic and economic development along the 584-mile Chicago-Kansas City Expressway.
By communicating our brand and these stories of collaboration, investment and success, we will continue to preserve and enhance the economic vitality of the Quincy and Adams County region.
There’s a concept in economic development called economic gardening. It’s an entrepreneurial approach that seeks to grow the local economy from within. Its premise is that local entrepreneurs create the companies that bring wealth and economic growth to a region in the form of jobs, increased revenues and a vibrant local business sector.
Roger Leenerts embodies economic gardening at its finest. He and his wife Julie purchased H&B Quality Tooling, Inc. in 2001 and currently have 16 full time employees providing customers with tooling, machined parts and services that exceed expectations.
Serial entrepreneurs Eric and Kathryn Thomas opened Vervocity Interactive, a full-service interactive solutions development company last year. The couple also own and operate ETC ComputerLand and in July purchased Media Development to serve the marketing needs of many area companies. Among the three companies, there are 44 employees.
The GREDF team, under the leadership of Quincy Entrepreneurship Center director, Charles Bell, assisted dozens of entrepreneurs and small business owners in 2014. Assistance has included 40 start-up and financing meetings, 2 business acquisition meetings, 14 business expansion meetings and 8 meetings related to new markets and export opportunities.
These numbers do not include the dozens more meetings, calls and emails GREDF staff attend to during a typical month. Along with our partners, we also hosted the 2nd Annual Entrepreneurship Expo in August to provide a one-stop learning experience for entrepreneurs at any stage of the process.
All of these activities take time and time is money, so we were pleased to have applied for and received a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant in order to continue to provide technical assistance services to small businesses in the region. These services include business counseling and assistance with business plans, financial analysis, planning and site selection, developing and coordinating business education and training opportunities with regional education and economic development partners, introductions to investors, industry contacts and potential service providers and networking regionally between businesses.
Entrepreneurship development remains a key component of our overall economic development program.
According to a presentation by Federal Reserve Business Economist Kevin Kliesen, key indicators suggest that the Quincy-area economy has outperformed many other areas of the state. Midwest manufacturing activity has grown faster than the nation the past few years and Quincy has seen healthy growth of real per capita income compared to other areas. While our demographics present both opportunities and challenges, we’re ready to face the challenges head on and cultivate the opportunities ahead. Thank you.
Marcel W. Wagner, Jr., President
Good evening… And thank you, Dan. Your leadership as Board Chair has enabled GREDF to more effectively meet our goals and objectives. My thanks also to the GREDF Board of Directors and Executive Committee for your guidance and support. It has been my privilege to serve you, our partners and staff in 2014.
The past year has been one of action for GREDF. Our strategic plan helped us better align our goals and strategies with our annual budget and work plan. Results of the 2014 Work Plan, including performance measurements, were reported to the GREDF Board in December, and the 2015 Work Plan has been approved to meet the changing needs of our region.
The 2015 Work Plan outlines our clear-cut Vision, defines our Mission and substantiates the Value of GREDF’s work in our region. Performance, accountability and seizing new opportunities will be at the heart of our 2015 activities. We will continue to provide value-added service to both our private and public sector partners by implementing new, strategic and out-of-the-box ideas.
Several new initiatives have already been implemented, including a CEO Roundtable and Freight Council. Leaders from a select group of non-competing companies participated in a pilot CEO Roundtable last month. The goal of the roundtable, which is a result of a partnership among John Wood Community College, the Workforce Investment Board of Western Illinois and GREDF, is to encourage collaboration and an exchange of information. The first group intends to meet regularly in 2015 and plans for additional roundtable groups are in the works.
Logistics professionals representing several area companies took part in the first meeting of the Freight Council also in December. Dr. Bart Jennings, Professor of Supply Chain Management at WIU facilitated the meeting. GREDF staff will be working with Dr. Jennings to gather area logistics data and develop a course of action before the next Freight Council meeting this year. The objective of this initiative is to address logistics, supply chain and freight issues in the region.
Please know that we appreciate your involvement in these and other initiatives that help us build a strong foundation upon which our regional economy may thrive.
In the spring we introduced the new Investor Program to help grow private investment in GREDF. We asked what value you place on supporting economic development activities that maintain and improve economic stability and a high quality of life for our region. You answered.
Thank you to ADM, Adams Networks, Blessing Health System, Knapheide Manufacturing Company, Quincy Medical Group and Quincy Newspapers, Inc. for becoming our inaugural Chairman’s Club members, investing $10,000 dollars annually in the mission and activities of GREDF. And thank you to the nearly 200 more businesses, organizations and individuals that increased or maintained your membership in 2014. Our goal in 2015 is to continue to grow our membership base, so if you are not currently a member, please consider making an investment in the economic future of our region.
We need financial support from both our private and public partners to sustain GREDF’s growing operations and balance our budget, which is why we are pleased that the Adams County Board of Commissioners has committed additional funding for 2015. I look forward to working closely with the City Council to do the same.
At my first GREDF annual meeting last January I said that “I believe leader’s inspire their people, giving them the confidence they need to step up to challenges and become leaders themselves.” That has certainly been the case this year with changes to the GREDF staff. Maggie Strong, in her new role as Vice President, has successfully led initiatives in membership growth, business retention and the much anticipated branding project. Angela Caldwell joined our staff in June as Workforce Development Coordinator and has done an excellent job in leading GREDF’s workforce activities.
I’d also like to recognize Pete Pohlman, Nikki Albright and Charles Bell for their contributions in 2014. Charles in particular has been instrumental in one of the most important projects on our horizon, moving the Mid-America Port from concept to reality.
At a recent meeting with a national site consultant I reviewed the proposed Port facilities and its multi-modal capabilities. His comment was that “these facilities will appeal to the top 10% of my client base.” Supply chain and logistics management are key drivers of site selection projects and GREDF has to get our message out that we are an ideal unique location for these types of projects.
It’s not unreasonable to imagine millions of dollars in new capital investment and new employment opportunities driven by our strategic location and the development of the proposed Port facilities. Think of the opportunities ahead. The construction of new schools, growth of area companies and public and private capital investment in the Port… this all leads to jobs and improvement in the quality of life for our region.
To all of our partners, I commit my energy to working with the staff and Board of Directors to accomplish and exceed the goals and objectives we have set forth, and I challenge you to join us. Together we will seize the opportunities ahead. Thank you and good night.