By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Kids raised their voices urging people to "vote yes for us" Thursday afternoon as the board of the Great River Economic Development Foundation made an announcement on their behalf.
The GREDF board announced its unanimous support for the $89 million Quincy Public Schools referendum on the Nov. 4. ballot, citing the potential economic development benefits for the community and its workforce.
"A strong school system is essential to a thriving community," said Mike McLaughlin, GREDF vice chairman. "It develops an educated and employable workforce. It attracts families and businesses to our community. A vibrant educational system is critical to developing and maintaining a local workforce that will keep Quincy and Adams County businesses strong and competitive well into the future."
If voters approve the bond issue, the district would sell $89 million in bonds to build five new elementary schools serving K-5, and an addition and extra classrooms at Quincy High School, without increasing the district's current tax levy. If voters defeat the bond issue, the district would be forced to carry out an estimated $66 million in life-safety improvements to existing schools over the next 20 years.
"Because this referendum does not increase property taxes, and because the presence of high-quality education facilities stimulates student success, educator excellence and ultimately economic growth, the board of directors of GREDF urges voters in the Quincy school district to vote yes on Nov. 4," McLaughlin said at the presentation in the lobby of the Oakley-Lindsay Center.
Mike Troup, treasurer of the Quincy School Building Referendum Committee, said support from the GREDF board is important for the referendum.
"GREDF is the most significant economic development business organization in this region, and to get a group of their business leaders that understand the value to come out and make an endorsement like this is exciting and extremely valuable to the campaign," Troup said.
"As voters approve this referendum Nov. 4, this region will see strong local economy during the construction phase of building five new elementary schools as well as building a significant addition to our high school, and we're going to have longer-term economic impact with updated public school facilities which are supporting the community, our businesses and most importantly our students."
GREDF President Marcel Wagner said high-quality school facilities are important for businesses looking at locating in the Quincy area.
"One of the first questions a company asks when looking at Quincy and Adams County is about workforce. Do we have an existing base of qualified people?" Wagner said. "Our existing industry and potential new industries require employees that are educated, dedicated and tech-savvy. It's our responsibility as a community to provide those facilities that produce those educated, dedicated and tech-savvy future employees."
Mayor Kyle Moore, a member of the GREDF board, lauded the organization's support for the referendum.
"What a great day for the city of Quincy when our business community answers a resounding yes when asked if they'll invest in our children," Moore said.