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Rock Island hires downtown director in step to revitalize the area

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 12:30 AM CDT
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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - The City of Rock Island and the Quad Cities Chamber has hired a new downtown director to lead revitalization efforts in the area.

Jack Cullen currently serves as the Marketing and Communications Manager for the chamber, but will start the transition to his new role on April 1st. He joined the QC Chamber in 2018 to serve as the Q2030 Project Manager, according to a press release.

“We’re setting out to create a new entity that’s solely focused on building up downtown Rock Island and supporting the businesses and property owners that are down here. Trying to figure out what else could compliment the current businesses and great amenities that are in downtown Rock Island,” Cullen said.

He will serve as a liaison between city leaders and business owners in the area. It’s part of a two-year agreement passed by the city council.

According to the release, Cullen will explore the creation of a downtown place management organization, develop a long-term sustainable funding model and make recommendations on the appropriate use of the city’s remaining downtown TIF funds. Cullen and company will also focus on downtown Rock Island’s placemaking needs, including business and economic growth, infrastructure, livability, advocacy and promotions.

“Downtown Rock Island is different than downtown Moline. It’s different than downtown East Moline. It has its own personality and character. We need to figure out what we can do to build on that to really create a special sense of place for people,” Cullen said.

Some small business owners are excited for Cullen to start.

“The other cities have their development directors and all that. We finally got one that I think is going to work between the city, the chamber, and the Quad Cities as a whole. But it’s nice to have somebody focused on Rock Island right now,” Phil Dingeldein of Dphilms in Rock Island said.

“This is a new chapter of downtown Rock Island I’m really looking forward to,” Benjamin Fawks, owner of Rozz-Tox said, “Right now it’s a blank canvas. There are so many spaces that could be filled, and could be filled with really cool stuff. Just have to find those people.”

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