STARTING Oct. 24, QUINCY will host the Tri-State Development Summit, drawing together leaders from across the tri-state region to network, identify issues facing the region and determine strategies to best address those issues.
The summit was founded in 1996 to unify and amplify the voices of residents of West-Central Illinois, Northeast Missouri and Southeast Iowa on the topics of transportation, economic development, education and quality of life issues. Since then, the summit has grown to include 36 counties, speaking with one voice to three governors, three U.S. House members and six U.S. senators, in addition to countless local lawmakers.
Among the highlights of the summit's accomplishments is the completion of nearly 1,300 miles of highway out of nearly 1,700 miles identified as priorities by the summit, showing the strength and influence that regional cooperation can bring to bear.
This year's summit, the first since 2016, will feature a powerful lineup of speakers and participants. Slated to appear are former U.S. Representative and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who will be introduced by his son, current U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo.
The importance of their appearances cannot be overstated: Ray LaHood still carries tremendous political influence, Darin LaHood serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and Graves is the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee.
We are grateful all three will be attending. Their participation shows their commitment to working on issues that affect the tri-state region, and we hope they are able to use their influence to continue delivering benefits for us all.
Other speakers include, among others, Nikki Budzinski, senior adviser to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and Illinois Agriculture Director John Sullivan, a former state senator from Rushville. These two have significant decision-making in Springfield, and we hope they are able to carry back the dire need for an expansion of Ill. 57 south of Quincy. There is perhaps no greater local need than making this stretch of highway four lanes to connect with Interstate 172.
Of course, there also are other significant regional priorities, such as completing the dredging of Quincy Bay, the Macomb Bypass, improvements to U.S. 67, Mo. 19 and Ill. 336, and lock and dam improvements. These vital infrastructure upgrades will improve safety as well as foster regional economic growth.
Getting these projects to come to fruition, though, will be difficult without the participation and cooperation of local leaders who are willing to jump into the fray and fight for their constituents.
Therefore, we urge representatives of all municipal, county and state governments, as well as business and educational leaders, to attend the Tri-State Development Summit this month.
Working together, our voices will be heard.