Quincy News

Strategic plan consultant reviews priorities in building better Quincy

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 9, 2017 9:25 pm Updated: Nov. 9, 2017 9:54 pm

QUINCY -- Consultants hired to help create a strategic plan for Quincy told a standing-room-only crowd how they believe the community can "flip the script" to grow.

Matt Wetli, a principal with Development Strategies of St. Louis, went over a list of priorities that revolve around the economy, markets, place and policy. He said ideas to transform the city are meant to take 10 to 20 years.

"There are no silver bullets. It's a lot of different actions coming together that propel a community forward," Wetli said.

Julie Cooper, a strategist with Development Strategies, said people who have been part of task force groups, attended public meetings or taken an online survey strongly agree that Quincy's riverfront and downtown have unmet potential. Other priorities include multimodal forms of transportation and creation of a more diverse and adaptive economy.

"The riverfront really is the gem of this Gem City," Cooper said.

Manufacturing also is more prevalent in Quincy than in most of the state or nation. And the Mid-America Port is projected to generate $90 million for the local economy, but it is still in search of funding support to get rolling.

Wetli told the crowd that it will probably take $100 million to follow all of the recommendations in the strategic plan, but he said not all of that money is needed right away.

"Don't be afraid of this number. We're talking about five, 10, 15 or 20 years for some of these initiatives," he said. "This is just the beginning, and this does not all have to be public money. There's a need for private dollars and philanthropic support, too."

Funding sources discussed briefly at the meeting include a sales tax dedicated to downtown and riverfront development, hotel-motel tax adjustments, and a food and beverage tax.

In many cases, Wetli said the plan relies on national trends as well as local strengths. Walking and biking trails or greenways help attract young people to communities.

Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said input from Thursday night's public meeting will be considered and compiled into the final report. Then the Quincy City Council will be presented with the report.

"We'll see what they like and what should change, and I expect a lengthy discussion," Moore said.

Maggie Strong, the local facilitator for the strategic plan process, and consultants from Development Strategies have been working on strategies for nearly a year. The $135,000 effort has tapped 180 community leaders and sought public input on how to improve economic development, infrastructure, Quincy's downtown and riverfront offerings, and tourism/arts/recreation.

Wetli said Quincy was surprising in several respects.

"With all those people in task forces -- it's rare that you have that much organization and that much momentum before the process starts," he said. "People were already organized and already interested. That's really special."

In addition, he said the "scale of the downtown, architecture, history and riverfront" are beyond what he's seen in many other cities of Quincy's size.

"If people come here and see Quincy, they'll stay and spend money. It will help grow the economy," Wetli said.

STRATEGIC PLAN RECOMMENDATIONS

• Increase support for workforce development to prepare local residents for jobs in manufacturing.

• Diversify the economy by growing health care, tourism, hospitality and the arts, which are trending up nationally.

• Add to resources for small businesses and startups.

• Boost the riverfront with funds from sales taxes and private contributions to invest in residential, retail and recreation.

• Invest in Quincy's greenways system.

• Make streetscapes more comfortable for pedestrians.

• Boost wayfinding and connections between different areas of downtown.

• Encourage development of in-fill housing with a focus on dense development and preservation of historic buildings.

• Provide support for retail development downtown on par with what is available in malls and other retail corridors.

• Upgrade the streetscapes and walkability near the Oakley-Lindsay Center and downtown hotels.

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