Regional group could help
More than 7 weeks ago, the Sauk Valley Symposium featured author Richard C. Longworth, whose address unleashed a lot of ideas about what the region’s future could be.
An expert on the Midwest, Longworth encouraged regional approaches to shared problems. It’s an idea he developed while writing “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism.”
Cooperative efforts to solve mutual problems are nothing new. Last week, a Sauk Valley Media report, “Thriving Together: Keys to economic recovery in the Sauk Valley,” presented interviews with Rock Falls Mayor David Blanton and Sterling Mayor Skip Lee. They described how the cities work together in many ways to the benefit of all.
Other examples of working together:
n Whiteside Community Action Network (WeCAN) had its first meeting this week. Sterling, Rock Falls and Whiteside County police hope the group can develop a regional approach to fight drugs and gangs.
n Dixon, Rock Falls and Sterling representatives met this week to talk about how, working together, they could form a River Action Group to better promote the Rock River as a tourist destination.
After February’s symposium, more than one person asked, “Where do we go from here?”
The answer might be to create an overarching regional group to address key issues of common concern.
A model exists not that far away.
The Tri-State Development Summit, created about 15 years ago, is a group of leaders from 35 counties in western Illinois, southeastern Iowa and northeastern Missouri. Its mission, paraphrased, is to bring leaders together to define common issues, develop a continuing dialogue to address those issues, and improve the region’s quality of life through economic development.
The group has 10 task forces: transportation, work force development, tourism, rivers issues, agriculture, media, housing, entrepreneurship, connectivity, and emergency response.
Many of those issues resonate in the Sauk Valley.
We encourage people to visit the Summit’s website, TriStateofMind.org, to see how they do it.
A smaller, five-county version of that group – let’s name it the Sauk Valley Development Alliance – might be what’s needed here to harness the region’s leadership and talent and help brighten our future.
Is that where we go from here? Let us know what you think.