Q-C Chamber celebrates youth, entrepreneurs | Economy

Talented youth, including 50 from Rock Island High School’s entrepreneurship program, were the focus during this year’s annual meeting of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce.

More than 1,000 Chamber members attended the session Wednesday at the iWireless Center, Moline. It featured a keynote address by Bonin Bough, a high-energy author, entrepreneur, marketing expert and star of “Cleveland Hustles,” a CNBC television show.

The event also included awards.

Twin State Technical Services, Davenport, won a Quad-Cities Innovation in Talent Development Award in the small business category with under 50 employees. RSM US, LLP, also in Davenport, won in the more than 50 employees category.

“To be recognized as a company where employees flourish is the greatest honor,” said Beth Tinsman, the technology firm’s president. 

Ryan Weber, RSM’s managing partner in Davenport, said the company’s talent and client experiences are two elements that are critical to success of the business, which provides audit, tax and consulting services.

The Quad Citian Award went to the Rev. Dwight Ford. Ford, pastor of Grace City Church. The award is for an individual “who distinguishes themselves as a champion of the Quad-City region, and demonstrates extraordinary pride and a positive attitude about the region,” according to the Chamber’s description.

Ford is a key backer of the Q2030 initiative, among other activities. Bringing up the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, Ford said he supports inclusiveness and collaboration, as he works to expand talent, jobs and economic opportunities for all residents of the Quad-Cities.

The Q2030 Award, given to a firm that supports transformational ideas in the regional action plan, went to River Bend Foodbank and was accepted by the  organization’s director, Mike Miller.

Miller said he appreciated the wide acceptance of the goal: Have no one go hungry in the region. In 2016, the food bank had a record distribution of 11.1 million meals, half-way to that goal.

Kent Pilcher, president of Estes Construction Co., Davenport, introduced the final award winner: YP Think Tank.

It is a group of 15 young people, who are part of the leadership team of Young Professionals of the Quad-Cities, or YPQC, a division of the chamber.

The Quad-City movement includes about 3,000 people, Pilcher said, while there are about 500 in a similar group in Des Moines.

Amy Goldsberry, a Think Tank spokeswoman, said the group strives for regional prosperity amid a welcoming community that is diverse and inclusive.

“As I speak, there are hundreds gathered at the No-Hate Rally,” she said, talking about the demonstration that attracted an estimated 1,000 people to Davenport’s Vander Veer Botanical Park on Wednesday.

Goldsberry said the day is “a moment of clarity and purpose,” and urged members to “Be ready to be bold, think big, never accept mediocrity as a standard for our region.”

The Chamber’s board chair last year, Rob Woodall from Arconic, and the new chair, Pat Eikenberry, of Missman, a subsidiary of IMEG, spoke on the year past, and the next year for the organization.

Eikenberry saluted Tara Barney, former president and CEO of the Chamber, who resigned last month. “We appreciate her and thank her for her leadership, Eikenberry said to applause from the crowd.

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