15 Dec FYI: QCCA EXPO CENTER
By Sean Leary
Absolutely no other organization like this anywhere, any place.
In a storied history that began as a Sash and Door Works, traveled through time as a notorious Millwork company, was decimated multiple times by fire and then finally rebuilt as the edifice today known as the QCCA Expo Center, the building at 2621 4th Avenue in Rock Island has seen its share of muddled and magnificent local lore.
The 60,000 square foot Expo Center features a 4,600 square foot auditorium that has a seating capacity of 500 used for consumer trade shows and special events, including antique shows, auto shows, craft shows, holiday-themed celebrations and more.
And in the last 33 years its seen its once-dulled shine shimmer again, thanks to help from the Quad City Conservation Alliance. The QCCA owns and operates the QCCA Expo Center and has since 1987, when it was gifted to them by previous owner, John “Jack” Titcomb. The Alliance was founded in 1984 as a not for profit conservation alliance by five local conservation clubs who recognized that they could accomplish more through joint action.
The five managing clubs are Frye Lake Sportsmen’s Club, Mississippi Valley Chapter of Muskies Inc., Moline Conservation Club, Quad City In-Fisherman, and the Rock Island Conservation Club. They also sponsor the Rock Island High School Environmental Club.
Fourteen-year president Rich Miller is emphatic that there is “absolutely no other organization like this anywhere any place. We exist solely for the community and to expose individuals to the great outdoors.”
The venue host 35 shows per year, including their premier flower and garden show, and draws over 15,000 per year, pulling in a huge economic draw to the community and contributing over $4 million a year to the local economy. It gets over $2 million in donations and the sole reason for operating the building is to be able to donate back out for conservation purposes.
The center has proven itself almost bullet proof for economic woes, they maintained just fine during the recession, having 90 percent volunteer workers, only two salaried employees, a few seasonal employees, 20 members on their board and a volunteer list of over 250.
Over a decade ago the group did a study on who was buying hunting and fishing licenses, which prompted them to start the education / youth programs. In addition, they sponsor many youth camps and fishing derbies and have exposed over 100,000 to the outdoors.
The concept of the Quad City Conservation Alliance is to provide a mechanism for achieving the aims of protecting, preserving, and enhancing the natural resources and the quality of life in the Quad City area through joint action. Monies raised through the Expo Center are directed to conservation activities in a 90 mile radius of the Quad Cities. Over $400,000 has been invested in the Quad-Cities for conservation activities since 1984 through the efforts of the QCCA.
Examples of QCCA sponsored projects include the development of Wapsi River Environmental Center Near Dixon, Iowa; the reintroduction of peregrine falcons near Muscatine, Iowa; the kids fishing clinics in Moline, Davenport, Rock Island, and Galesburg; the waterfowl and raptor habitat enhancement projects along the Mississippi; research equipment for state biologists in Iowa and Illinois; and a handicapped fishing dock at West Lake Park, Scott County.
More information about the facility, upcoming events and the alliance can be found at www.qccaexpocenter.com.