Rock Island Police Department Officers on bike patrol in downtown Rock Island.

New Downtown Alliance programs prioritize curb appeal, public safety

The Rock Island Downtown Alliance is launching new programs this spring to spur business growth and enhance public perception in downtown Rock Island.

“We’re excited to be in implementation mode after close to three years of daily startup planning,” said Jack Cullen, Executive Director of the Downtown Alliance. “Our small but mighty crew takes pride in providing services in direct response to our stakeholder’s needs, all for the betterment of downtown.”

Public Safety Pilot Program

A Public Safety Pilot Program was launched March 11 to strengthen police presence, increase safety and improve public image in the City of Rock Island’s Downtown Special Service Area (SSA). In partnership with the Rock Island Police Department, the Downtown Alliance is hiring off-duty, uniformed officers to provide enhanced public-way safety services. This includes mobile safety patrol, business checks and public safety escorts on bicycle, on foot or in a marked vehicle.


In tandem with the increased police presence, the Downtown Alliance hired an intern to perform street outreach throughout the Downtown SSA, ensuring those in need are being connected to available resources necessary to thrive. The Downtown Alliance is working closely with neighborhood resource partners Christian Care, Community Home Partners, Project NOW, Rock Island Public Library and UnityPoint Health-Robert Young Center, among others on this initiative.

Rebate Programs

Since November 2023, the Downtown Alliance has met weekly with the City’s Economic Development team and Development Association of Rock Island (DARI) to discuss projects and further develop the menu of financial assistance resources for new and existing businesses.

Huckleberry's Great Pizza and Calzones.

The Huckleberry’s Great Pizza and Calzones storefront aligns with the recommended design guidelines in the Downtown Alliance’s Curb Appeal Rebate Program.

“That level of coordination and collaboration is truly key to our collective success, not only downtown, but citywide,” Cullen said during a March 11 Rock Island City Council Study Session. Between those meetings and Cullen’s work with members of the Rebuild Downtown Committee of the Downtown Alliance Board of Directors, the organization created two new programs and design guidelines to incentivize physical and safety improvements to downtown storefronts and facades: the Curb Appeal Rebate Program and the Safety Rebate Program.

In 2024, the intent of the Curb Appeal Rebate Program is to improve awnings, signage and wall murals, while the Safety  Rebate Program encourages new exterior security cameras and lighting. The goal of both programs is to beautify and revitalize the downtown; attract and retain businesses; and enhance the streetscape, character and qualities of the district.

Additional program information is available on the City’s CivicServe platform along with information about the City’s other economic development programs, including Growing Rock Island Together (GRIT) and the Property Enhancement Program (PEP). Business owners, developers and entrepreneurs interested in the available programs are encouraged to complete the City’s Business Assistance Intake Form as a first step.

Cullen focuses about one-third of his time on Business & Economic Growth, one of three organizational workplan pillars.  The remainder of his time is spent on Infrastructure & Livability and Advocacy & Promotions.

In addition to creating a new logo and style guide for the Downtown Alliance, the organization is working on a new-and-improved website to serve as a go-to resource for information about the Downtown Alliance and the downtown as a destination.