Quad-Cities Covid Coalition, Ryan Saddler Honored at Chamber Annual Meeting
Reflecting urgent issues that dominated discussions nationwide in 2020-21, the Quad Cities Chamber this week honored a local Covid coalition and a St. Ambrose leader in diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Chamber held its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 11, at Davenport’s Rhythm City Casino Resort. As part of annual awards, it recognized the Quad Cities Covid-19 Coalition as Business of the Year, and Ryan Saddler — St. Ambrose University’s first Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – as Volunteer of the Year.
The coalition award honored contributions of the dozens of Quad-Cities city and county governments; public health; health care providers; emergency operations; nonprofit and private organizations; schools and education partners; and businesses.
The collective group united and collaborated in the face of the pandemic to deliver the accurate, up-to-date information and resources our region’s businesses and organizations desperately needed to make critical decisions in their workplaces and the community, according to a Q-C
The coalition, which spanned the river and local borders, was key in keeping our community safe. Accepting the award on behalf of the full coalition were seven of the participating organizations: Scott and Rock Island County Emergency Management Agencies, Rock Island and Scott County Health Departments, Community Health Care, Genesis Health System and UnityPoint Health – Trinity.
“I think it’s a testament to what we do here, how people in the Quad Cities deal with these kinds of events,” Dave Donovan, director of the Scott County Emergency Management Agency, said of the coalition being honored. “It shows you can work on your individual interests, but you can work on them in the context of the community’s overall interest.”
Saddler, who volunteered as the facilitator of the Chamber’s DEI Peer Roundtable, was recognized for his time, dedication and support of the program. Saddler, who is in his 26th year at his alma mater St. Ambrose, is most proud of the fact that DEI has become part of the Quad Cities’ conversation.
“As I’m constantly telling our group ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a journey. It’s not a destination,” Saddler said. “It’s not a program where you get a certificate and pass. It’s a journey and we’re all learning.”
Although Covid-19 pushed the roundtables to an online platform, Saddler guided his DEI peer group through monthly discussions centered around the topic of diversity, particularly in the workplace. Over the year, the group shared many meaningful, thought-provoking and sometimes, difficult discussions.
Recently, Saddler said the group met in person and outlined changes in their organizations that resulted from the conversations, ideas and best practices they had discussed. “It’s been pretty dynamic and rewarding to see the group’s growth and the changes based on information shared by someone else that gave us that ‘ah-ha’ moment,” he said.
Highlighting accomplishments and goals
At the annual meeting (which was livestreamed), Chamber leaders highlighted the organization’s accomplishments from the past year and outlined plans for the future.
Chamber President and CEO Paul Rumler was joined by A.J. Loss, Chamber board chair, and Cathy Edwards, Chamber past chair, for an
interview-style program facilitated by emcee Brittany Kyles, KWQC morning reporter. The keynote speaker was John May, Deere & Company’s chairman and CEO.
“To win the race for talent and economic prosperity, the Quad Cities Chamber has adapted our business model to not only provide relevant services, but to create an essential impact on the Quad Cities region,” Rumler said.
Acknowledging the challenges Covid presented for our businesses, organizations and communities – big and small alike, Rumler said: “The good news is the Quad-Cities is emerging stronger than before and the future looks bright.”
“We’re embracing our role in placemaking by creating a way for Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island and future partners to enhance how downtowns and commercial neighborhoods facilitate economic growth,” he said. “We’re talking about how small and medium business development is just as important as attracting Amazon to the Quad-Cities region – the largest economic development project in our history. And above all else, we’re only as good as our people, which is why it’s critical more people choose to live in the Quad-Cities region to create the customer base and workforce pipeline to meet business needs.”
Chamber leaders outlined the priorities moving forward as well as shared the accomplishments of Fiscal Year 2021:
The Chamber is dedicated to our region’s growth, and its three ambitious goals are aligned with the Q2030 vision.
- Grow the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to $35 billion; currently at $27.7 billion (2019)
- Grow its population to 500,000; currently at 470,973 (2019)
- Engage with 25% of area businesses; currently at 10% (2021)
Highlights in the Chamber’s three core areas of work since July 1, 2020, include:
Business & Economic Growth
- Involved with 88 new active projects including 62 business attraction and 26 business expansions representing $197,995,242 and 1,361 jobs for our six-county region.
- Assisted in 6 major economic development wins including Amazon, which will build a new Robotics Fulfillment Center in Davenport; divvyDOSE’s expansion to downtown Davenport; RubberStamps.Net’s relocation to downtown Davenport; Rock Island-based
Crawford Company’s acquisition of Seaberg Industries; and Service Steel’s major capital investment in East Moline.
- Participated in 610 company outreach connections, 1,354 resources assists and 43 ribbon cuttings and ground breakings with our region’s businesses.
- Launched Quarterly Market Reports to provide summaries of our economic position and the contributions and impact of our region’s business sectors.
- Expanded region’s ecosystem of experts partnering with Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), SCORE Quad Cities, Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), and its Iowa counterpart, Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS).
- Launched Keep It QC to bring awareness to the power of doing business locally.
- Launched the Quad Cities Community Partnership to increase coordination and communication between the Quad Cities Downtowns, including Chamber-led initiatives in Bettendorf, Davenport and Rock Island.
- Celebrated successes with the Downtown Bettendorf Organization (DBO) including the completion of two new projects totaling $32 million, the opening of the Iowa-bound span of the new I-74 Bridge and opening of 11 new businesses.
Celebrated successes with the Downtown Davenport Partnership (DDP) of 32 new and expanded businesses and the completion of 14 projects, representing $27.5 million of new investment.
- Completed a new Davenport Downtown Master Plan and initial flood survey with the City of Davenport.
- Launched a Hospitality Ambassadors pilot program in downtown Davenport to interact and assist visitors, residents and downtown employees.
- Approved a contract with the City of Rock Island to provide downtown place management services and hired a director to explore the creation of a place management organization with a sustainable funding model.
Talent Attraction & Development
- Partnered with United Way on a Regional Talent Study which identified five priorities to aid the Quad Cities in building a successful talent machine: preschool for all, career connections, high school graduation – career/college ready, talent attraction and career pathways.
- Hosted a Signing Day event with education and industry partners for more than 50 high school students involved in apprenticeships with 15 area companies.
- Partnered with IowaWORKS and area school districts on QCA Hiring Fair.
For more information, visit www.quadcitieschamber.com.