So much of the national conversation regarding downtown revitalization topics these days is centered around making places for people. It seems like a simple enough thought on the surface, however, somehow we have gotten so far away from that approach with behemoth box stores, elaborate office parks, tucked away subdivisions, and car-centric streets that rush us from one place to the next.

There are many improvements, repairs, and enhancements that need to be made in order to make a place “people-friendly.” A downtown is historically the core of a town and by their nature, are more people-friendly or meant to serve larger groups of people with a diverse set of needs and expectations whether it be for living, working or playing. But there is another dimension beyond the built environment. The businesses and organizations that occupy storefronts, upper-story office spaces, and other buildings throughout a downtown play a much bigger role in determining its future than is seldomly given credit.

It is with that in mind that we would like to take a moment to feature a couple of these businesses and organizations in order to bring awareness to the extraordinary work they are doing. Oftentimes, it is a thankless task running a small business. It can also be hard to see the light of positivity at the end of the tunnel while managing a small nonprofit. It truly is a testament to the sum of many dedicated and hardworking people that serve residents and visitors of downtown Rock Island that make it a great place.

Erik Reader
Executive Director
Downtown Rock Island Partnership