Downtown Steering Committee

NOTICE: The timeline for considering the SSA establishing ordinance that was previously published incorrectly state that the City Council would have a first reading of that ordinance on November 21. The first reading will actually take place at the City Council's regular meeting scheduled for November 28. The second reading for the ordinance will take place on December 12 as originally published. No other dates in the SSA process timeline are changed.

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  • This Committee meets at 4 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month.
  • Contact Jack Cullen for more information about meetings.
  • Engaged and constructive downtown stakeholders are invited to attend the Downtown Steering Committee meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, November 15th, at the Holiday Inn to discuss the proposed Special Service Area sand other downtown matters. Interested parties unable to attend in-person may join the meeting virtually via Zoom
  2022 Meeting Dates  
January 18th February 15th March 15th
April 19th  May 17th  June 21st
July 19th August 16th September 20th
October 18th November 15th December 20th

Committee Responsibilities

In early 2021, the City of Rock Island’s City Council approved a contract with the Quad Cities Chamber to provide place management services and explore the creation of a downtown place management organization.

“Revitalizing our downtown area is a key component to economic growth opportunities for the city, which is why we’re excited to bring this public-private partnership forward,” said Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms. “Bringing people, new events, activities and vibrancy to downtown Rock Island also brings increased revenue, improved quality of life and greater value for existing assets. That’s why it’s so important for us to make this investment with a sole focus to oversee the implementation of our plan.”

Through this contract, the Chamber hired Jack Cullen as Director, Downtown Rock Island, whose responsibilities are to:

  • Explore the creation of downtown place management organization
  • Determine a sustainable funding model for a place management organization
  • Represent and advocate for downtown property owners, businesses and residents
  • Help the City prioritize TIF funds to deliver services in downtown Rock Island to enhance public spaces, encourage investment and improve quality of life
  • Market the downtown as a great place to live, work and play through website and social media
  • Draft articles and updates on downtown activities for newsletters and website as needed
  • Establish and foster relationships with all stakeholders
  • Conduct community outreach and consensus building regarding urban planning initiatives impacting the downtown
  • Identify funding opportunities through the identification of public and private partners and grant opportunities

To make sure that a representative set of voices could provide guidance on the work, a Downtown Task Force appointed by Mayor Thoms in 2020 became a Steering Committee made up of property owners, City officials and other stakeholders. The Steering Committee meets monthly to discuss what a downtown placemaking organization should be responsible for, how the downtown should look and ways the downtown can be promoted. Their recommendations are communicated to the City Council by the Downtown Director, who helps advise on investments and improvements. 

Agenda & Minutes

Other Reports


  1. Arron Sutherland, Illinois Casualty Company (Chair)
  2. Nicole Watson-Lam, Ms. BriMani’s Hair & Beauty Supply/The Urban Reserve (Vice Chair)
  3. Miles Brainard, City of Rock Island
  4. Kyle Carter, Quad Cities Chamber
  5. George Crouse, Downtown resident
  6. Thad DenHartog, Mel Foster Co.
  7. Jamie DeRudder, Holiday Inn/Kinseth Hospitality Companies
  8. Shelly Dingeldein, Dphilms
  9. John Friederich, Royal Neighbors of America
  10. Troy Green, Crawford Company/Development Association of Rock Island (DARI)
  11. Jon Keim, The Original Huckleberry’s Great Pizza & Calzones
  12. Kevin Maynard, Quad City Arts
  13. Charlotte Morrison, Visit Quad Cities
  14. Steve Ollenburg, Modern Woodmen of America
  15. Matt Pappas, Pappas Wright, P.C.
  16. Ald. Dylan Parker, City of Rock Island (Fifth Ward)
  17. Kyle Peters, Daiquiri Factory
  18. Paul Phares, Robert Young Center/UnityPoint Health - Trinity
  19. Monta Ponsetto, Rock Island-Milan Education Foundation
  20. Eric Rowell, Augustana College
  21. Matt Stern, Downtown property owner
  22. Pat Stolley, Laborspace
  23. John Timmer, Blue Cat Brewing Co.
  24. Mayor Mike Thoms, City of Rock Island
  25. Brandy VandeWalle, Skeleton Key Art & Antiques