The Illinois Quad Cities, like many other Midwestern communities, has experienced an economy in transition since the decline of the once-dominant manufacturing base in the 1980s. Realizing the shift towards knowledge-based jobs and “human capital” the Illinois Quad-City Chamber of Commerce hired AngelouEconomics to prepare a Unified Economic Growth Strategy, referred to locally as Blueprint 2010. The goal of Blueprint 2010 was to help position the region as an economic and talent magnet. Through this study, the Illinois Quad Cities region received a target industry study, human capital analysis, and an Action Plan containing recommendations for business climate, job creation, human capital, education, sites and infrastructure, entrepreneurship, and marketing. When implemented, these initiatives will contribute to higher wage jobs, population growth, business retention and expansion, more business start-ups, and an improved quality of life for more of the region’s citizens.
Implementation of Blueprint 2010 began in May 2005 when the strategy was unveiled. As a result of this study, young professionals were identified as a driving force in the Quad Cities region and the Chamber was encouraged to involve them in the region’s economic development efforts. In just a few months time, the leadership has strengthened the region-wide Young Professionals Network (YPN – www.ypnqc.org), an organization dedicated to engaging the region’s young professionals in shaping and showcasing a greater Quad City region. The region has dedicated significant investments to attracting and retaining young, diverse, leading-edge professionals who will spark growth at existing businesses and fill the knowledge-base jobs of the region’s target industries.