City of Rock Island City Council met Oct. 28.
Here is the minutes provided by the Council:
Present: Mayor Mike Thoms, Alderman Randy Hurt, Alderman James Spurgetis, Alderwoman Jenni Swanson, Alderman Dylan Parker, and Alderman Mark Poulos
Alderman Dave Geenen arrived at 5:44 p.m.
Absent: Alderman Ivory D. Clark
Staff: City Manager Randy Tweet, City Attorney Dave Morrison, City Clerk Judith Gilbert, and other City staff
Two Rivers YMCA and Rock Island Public Library: A Community Center Collaboration
Rock Island Library Director Angela Campbell and Two Rivers YMCA Director Mike Wennekamp presented on their proposed joint community center collaboration. Library Board trustees, Foundation board members, and library staff were also in attendance.
Ms. Campbell discussed the library's past efforts in finding a new home to replace the 30/31 branch library. They have wanted to acquire the Tri-City Jewish Center, but a lack of funds prevented them from moving forward. She said the library began talks with the Two Rivers YMCA who wanted a facility in Rock Island. Their discussions led them to work together with three important results: repurposing and sharing a facility for more efficient operations, a geographic central location, and a collaboration between the two organizations unlike any in the Quad Cities. Ms. Campbell explained that they are awaiting the results of a feasibility study due in late December.
Mr.Wennekamp said the Y had looked at the facility. However, they did not need a facility the size of the Tri-City Jewish Center. He said they saw the value of a collaboration.
Ms. Campbell explained the library is connecting people to resources, services, and events. She said the library has continued to evolve over time to serve the public by building connections and promoting education and lifelong learning. She stated the main reasons for the collaboration: a location that would put every Rock Island resident within three miles of library services; an existing gym and kitchen is ideal for the YMCA in meeting the needs of the community; an opportunity to repurpose a building with operational cost savings and making it a one-stop location for teens and adults; and compatibility between the two organizations.
Mr. Wennekamp reviewed the many health and well-being programs offered by the YMCA. He explained that the Y provides more than fitness; it provides a range of programming. He noted there are over 400 Rock Island families that drive to the Y's Moline facility. Mr. Wennekamp stated there is no need for an aquatic facility at this time. He stated the Jewish Center facility offers a contemporary, commercial kitchen which the YMCA needs to run the children's food program that they took over a couple of years ago. They are serving 1500 meals and snacks per day to over 35 programs in Rock Island County; in the summer, they provide 2400 to 2500 offers a contemporary, commercial kitchen which the YMCA needs to run the children's food program that they took over a couple of years ago. They are serving 1500 meals and snacks per day to over 35 programs in Rock Island County; in the summer, they provide 2400 to 2500 meals and snacks per day. They are currently using three small kitchen facilities. Mr. Wennekamp said they would be able to centralize food storage and preparation. He said the Tri- City Jewish Center is a perfect match for their programs and needs.
Mr. Wennekamp said the cemetery is not part of the deal. They have come to an acquisition purchase price and a conditional purchase agreement until the feasibility study is complete. He explained how they went to the Contributors' Council with their project. He said the Contributors' Council wanted to see a written purchase agreement and a fundraising study showing how much community support there is for the project. Mr. Wennekamp said a mid-scope estimate is $7.26 million. There are actually three different scopes of the project from minimal needs to highest needs. He explained the national YMCA can provide pre-construction services without additional costs. He said when they have the results of the feasibility study, they will know if there is sufficient community support and if private money can be raised for the project.
Alderman Spurgetis stated it sounds like a wonderful plan. He wanted to know the plans for the downtown library. Ms. Campbell replied they are keeping the downtown library and its holdings.
Alderman Parker said his constituents are concerned about the future of the downtown library. He said he is trying to assure his constituents that the City will continue to make an investment in the downtown library. He wanted to know the specifics of who would own the proposed facility. The YMCA will purchase the property and Ms. Campbell stated the library will have an operational lease which will be easier on them for their budget. They are asking for a minimum 12-year lease; the costs would be the same as the 30/31 library costs (not considering the needed capital improvements at 30/31).
Mr. Wennekamp explained they have a joint task force with the YMCA and the library. The Y will have 65 percent of the space and the library will have 35%. He said all donations will be tracked and at the end of the fundraising campaign, the equity will be allocated based on the fundraising amounts by each organization. The library will not own any part of the facility. He noted there is an option for buyout by either party based on their equity.
Alderman Parker said he is very excited about the project and they have his full support. He asked if the Y's property firm has any experience with project labor agreements. Mr. Wennekamp replied their firm is involved only up to a certain point and then they would transition to a local architect. He did say the YMCA has experience with IMPACT agreements.
Mayor Thoms thanked Ms. Campbell and Mr. Wennekamp for their presentation.
Quad Cities First: Update
Liz Tallman, Chief Economic Development Officer for Quad Cities First, thanked Council for the opportunity to give them an update on Quad Cities First. She explained that Quad Cities First is the regional economic development arm of the Quad Cities Chamber. She noted Rock Island is a big contributor to the public-private entity. She will provide an update on the first year of the services agreement between the public sector and the private sector. Ms. Tallman said they reported monthly on 44 data points during the last year. She said going forward, they will be cutting back on some of the data. She stated they provide promotion of the region as well as provide technical assistance.
Ms. Tallman explained they began by determining the next generation economic development. Their focus is on existing businesses' need and their supply chain needs. They now have a data analytics person on the team and they are more laser focused. Ms. Tallman said they completed 145 Business Connection calls. She said they work on developing the relationships with their economic development partners through monthly and quarterly meetings. She stated analytics person on the team and they are more laser focused. Ms. Tallman said they completed 145 Business Connection calls. She said they work on developing the relationships with their economic development partners through monthly and quarterly meetings. She stated they spent the first year building their team.
Ms. Tallman said Quad Cities First serves a six-county region; three in Iowa and three in Illinois.They market the region on a national basis and sometimes internationally. Ms. Tallman said they focus on business retention in Scott and Rock Island Counties. She explained in more detail their Business Connection program. She noted that 80% of growth usually comes from within existing industries; the focus is on what businesses need to help them grow. In Rock Island, Quad Cities First completed 19 Business Connection calls and provided 47 technical assists. Ms. Tallman said they find out what the business needs and make referrals.
Ms. Tallman reviewed regional challenges uncovered during their Business Connections visits: availability of workforce and the shortage of skilled and semi-skilled workers; training the workforce of the future; the Illinois minimum wage which will impact business models on both sides of the river; regional concerns about legalized cannabis and the testing implications and availability of workforce meeting standards; and the federal tariffs impacting large and small manufacturing companies. Ms. Tallman said these concerns are brought to their advocacy team.
Ms. Tallman explained they are approaching business attraction differently than in the past. She said they no longer have someone on the road all the time; they are letting their website promote the region with information and data. She said site consultants are looking at their website to learn about the region. They are still tweaking their website to reach their targets and also for collecting data. Ms. Tallman reviewed their business attraction metrics. She also reviewed their business attraction strategy.
Ms. Tallman discussed their FY 19 economic development performance and their 12 successful projects as well as their performance over the last nine years. They had three successful projects in Rock Island in FY 19.
Ms. Tallman stated for the next year business intelligence is driving their activity. They have a program of web analytics, business attraction, business retention and expansion, and website content driving their economic development. They have very specific target industries that are their focus: advanced metals and materials, agricultural innovation, corporate operations and support services, defense, and logistics. She said they use data analytics to drill down even further for targeted sectors. She noted they have a cluster in robotics in the region. Ms. Tallman said the data drives how to grow the emerging industries.
Ms. Tallman said Quad Cities First works with the Rock Island economic development team in many ways. She explained Quad Cities First has a grant for developing site inventory to promote the region. They had a competition for site development and the planning process. Ms. Tallman said Rock Island won the competition and a $50,000 grant; there will be a couple of years to work on that project. She said Rock Island has been very involved with their manufacturing hub.
Alderman Parker thanked Quad Cities First and said they do good work for the region. He said his constituents ask what various organizations are doing for the region and Rock Island and he appreciates the metrics provided. Alderman Parker asked how they determine who to reach out to with the Business Connections visits. Ms. Tallman said they have lists from the utility companies and the cities; they prioritize the lists. She said they ask the cities which companies to visit. She explained the targeted companies are primary industries; they are not in the service or retail sectors. Ms. Tallman says the community has a lot of say in the companies selected for the visits. Alderman Geenen asked who has that say; Ms. Tallman replied the staff. Mayor Thoms said he has gone on several visits. City Manager Randy Tweet said he doesn't typically go on the visits; staff does (Tarah Sipes usually goes). Ms. Tallman explained that the data gathered is shared only in the aggregate. She added it's important to have the City staff on the visits for relationship building. She gave an example that in a visit, they might find out about go on the visits; staff does (Tarah Sipes usually goes). Ms. Tallman explained that the data gathered is shared only in the aggregate. She added it's important to have the City staff on the visits for relationship building. She gave an example that in a visit, they might find out about problems such as potholes which can be easily fixed.
Alderman Parker asked how many site visits were in Rock Island. He asked if site inventory is low in Rock Island. Ms. Tallman replied she doesn't have the specifics, but she knows inventory is an issue. She said Rock Island won the planning grant to further develop the inventory in Rock Island. Mayor Thoms reminded everyone it is site inventory for the five target industries, not for retail.
Alderman Parker asked what Quad Cities First does with the information they get from the businesses. Ms. Tallman explained that it is a national program and database called Synchronist. She said they can pull anything from the database and they facilitate programs from the information to resolve issues.
Mr. Tweet asked Ms. Tallman to talk about the meeting last week. Ms. Tallman said John Deere is working with the high schools on apprenticeship programs for the skills that are needed in the workforce. She said this year, they have a pilot project this year with a focus on 8th grade and 10th grade students and how to get them excited about manufacturing. There was a meeting with school superintendents, economic development staff, and businesses to talk about this program. Ms. Tallman explained Quad Cities First's job was to bring everyone together to start the discussion.
Alderman Spurgetis asked if they work with other Illinois municipalities in the Quad Cities; Ms. Tallman replied yes. Alderman Spurgetis asked if there was anything she could attribute to the three successful projects in Rock Island. Ms. Tallman said two businesses moved from other communities; she said it was a partnership with the City staff. She explained the no poaching rule that is part of the services agreement; there is a specific process that is followed. She explained further than when a home community cannot help a business grow, the goal is to keep them in the Quad Cities. Mayor Thoms added that there are so many factors involved and it's important to look at the big picture of the region. He stated Rock Island must continue to to work and strengthen the City's site inventory and make any necessary investment that might be needed; for example, installation of fiber optic. He said it is the Council's responsibility for making these plans.
Alderwoman Swanson thanked Ms. Tallman for the update and that she was available to answer Alderwoman Swanson's questions.
Development Association of Rock Island: Update
Beth Payne, Administration Director for the Development Association of Rock Island (DARI), introduced other members of the team who were present: Cindy Berg, CFO; Erik Reader, Program Support; Board Chair AJ Loss from Bush Construction; and Erik Hanson, Downtown Ambassador.
Ms. Payne stated DARI's mission is to stimulate community and economic development in Rock Island. She said DARI has 72 members currently, 30 percent of which represent Iowa-based businesses. Ms. Payne presented a history of DARI and some of their milestones. In 2017, the City formalized a three-year agreement for services with DARI. She said that this year, they rebranded DARI with a new tagline, "Moving Rock Island Forward."
Ms. Payne reviewed how DARI would take on buildings, in partnership with the City, for landbanking efforts for strategic development. Two such projects were Renaissance Lofts in 1993 and McKesson Lofts in 2003-2008. She reviewed other projects where DARI originally owned the property and sold it for redevelopment including properties for the police station and Dunkin Donuts. 1993 and McKesson Lofts in 2003-2008. She reviewed other projects where DARI originally owned the property and sold it for redevelopment including properties for the police station and Dunkin Donuts.
Ms. Payne gave some organizational updates for DARI and some recent consolidations. The District was dissolved and DARI now focuses on citywide redevelopment, not just the downtown. Ms. Payne discussed the rebranding effort of DARI along with their new website (RockIslandForward.com) and Facebook page. She stated DARI is here to partner, not to compete, but to make an impact in a variety of sectors: workforce, commercial and industrial growth, housing, neighborhoods, and the downtown.
Ms. Berg presented a summary of DARI's investments in Rock Island and how the City's money was used. The City provided DARI with $135,000 per year and an additional $28,500 for District events. She explained they leveraged the City's monies with additional dollars for projects and programs. She said DARI is a member of Bridge Investment Community Development Corporation which has made several loans to Rock Island businesses.
Mr. Reader presented the 2019 DARI budget for program support totaling $220,000 for business development, real estate development, economic development, and marketing. He reviewed the specific programs of DARI and presented the October monthly dashboard for the metrics of their programs. Mr. Reader provided numbers on the business assistance and examples of business support provided by DARI. Mr. Reader said the clean-up of the downtown has been contracted out to Quality Construction Services Inc. Mr. Reader said this year DARI partnered with Kyle Peters of The Daiquiri Factory for the Gumbo Ya Ya and Ya Maka My Weekend downtown events. Their latest initiative has been a video series in partnership with dphilms focusing on places, faces and pride of Rock Island. Mr. Reader said DARI has also partnered with NPC-11 serving as their fiscal agent.
Ms. Payne reviewed the Live-Work Rock Island program which has become a national model for Live-Work housing. The program provides a unique incentive to increase residential opportunities in Rock Island. Homebuyers must go through DARI's homebuyer program to educate them about being a good homeowner and neighbor. The program is open to DARI member employees.
Ms. Berg provided details about a new business development forum called "Pitch. Connect. Fund." (similar to "Shark Tank") and sponsored by DARI, Central States, and Bridge Development. She hopes there will be Rock Island projects pitching for funding and asked everyone to share the information.
Mayor Thoms said the Live-Work program is a great tool, but the employer has to be a member of DARI. Alderman Spurgetis said the monthly meetings of DARI are very enjoyable and informative. Alderman Parker appreciates all that DARI does and looks forward to growing the City's partnership with them. Mayor Thoms thanked DARI for their presentation.
The study session concluded at 6:31 p.m.