By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
If the flurry of images from expanding businesses was not enough to impress those attending the Great River Economic Development Foundation annual meeting, the millions of dollars in projects or the number of new jobs probably did the trick.
GREDF Board of Directors Chairman Tim Finlay gave an annual overview with highlights such as the groundbreaking for Blessing Hospital's $70 million, five-story patient care building and the $11 million Ursa Farmers Cooperative facility that has been completed in Canton, Mo.
"We know how to use our God-given resources along with good old-fashioned hard work and determination to make this place we call home the best it can be," Finlay said.
"We would like to salute and thank all of you, our partners, who are involved in projects and efforts that drive economic development in our region."
Several other building projects or hiring spurts were among the highlights.
º Prince Agri Products is moving forward with a $4 million, 12,000 square-foot building which will house manufacturing for a newly-acquired specialty product line in the South Quincy Development District.
º Manchester Tank and Equipment is adding a $3.4 million, 37,500 square-foot expansion at the company's 34th and Wismann Lane facility.
º Knapheide Manufacturing added 200 jobs in 2012 and plans to add another 40 this year.
º Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois added more than 150 jobs during the past year and a half.
º Titan International saw record revenue of $1.9 billion in 2012 and is completing a 100,000-square-foot facility at the former Huck Fixture building.
"Adams County is a good place to do business," Finlay said.
His comment was bolstered by a map showing Adams County with the second lowest unemployment rate in Illinois -- a position the county has often held. Another map showed how the Chicago-Kansas City Expressway, the Avenue of the Saints, and the Interstate 72/U.S. 36 corridor intersect in the region and all were completed within the past 22 years.
"Our Western Illinois region has gone from forgotten to connected in all directions, thanks in large part to work of the Tri-State Development Summit Transportation Task Force," Finlay said.
Another transportation success was celebrated on Dec. 29, when Cape Air hit the 10,000 annual boarding mark that qualified Quincy Regional Airport for a $1 million federal grant.
Rich Niemann Sr. and the Niemann Foods Foundation was applauded for a $1 million donation to Quincy University for the Connie Niemann Center for Music. Knapheide Manufacturing Co. and the Knapheide family were applauded for partnering with the Quincy School District and the Quincy Public Schools Foundation to upgrade technology in all the school.
Finlay also noted the importance of education, with Quincy University adding a masters in business administration program and John Wood Community College receiving a $500,000 grant from the Department of Labor to boost manufacturing training programs.
Mike McLaughlin, former chairman of the Adams County Board said the county is unique in that it has more than 100 manufacturers. He recognized agriculture as the largest industry in the county and said one recent land sale brought $18,000 per acre.
Quincy Mayor John Spring noted the efforts of Cullinan Properties that brought the Quincy Mall back to life.
"We all know that 2013 is likely to be a challenging year. We also know that based on our track record, our resources and our people, we will rise to the occasion, view challenges as opportunities and grow together," Finlay said.