You’ve probably heard a lot about Q2030 lately. It’s a massive undertaking by the Quad Cities Chamber. Experts are working tirelessly to grow our region. I believe the key to our future success lies in the past. John Deere World Headquarters calls the Quad Cities home. How did that happen? In 1837, John Deere, blacksmith and inventor, had little more than a blacksmith shop, a piece of discarded polished steel, and an idea that would help farmers, changing the face of agriculture for all time. Mr. Deere built 10 plows in 1839, 75 in 1841, and 100 in 1842. He knew that was just the beginning. Today, it’s one of the most well-respected and well-known companies in the world and again, it calls the Quad Cities, home.
Flown on a plane lately? Hopped in a Ford F-150? Had a cup of tea? Chances are somewhere along the line, Alcoa had something to do with it. Yep, it all began with a cup of tea. In 1889 Alcoa Developed the First Aluminum Tea Kettle Lightweight with a bright surface, excellent at conducting heat and easy to clean, aluminum seemed to be the perfect material for cookware and utensils. To interest cookware manufacturers, Alcoa developed the first prototype aluminum tea kettle. The tea kettle helped them get their first aluminum order for utensil production.
127 years later Alcoa is a global leader in lightweight metals technology, engineering and manufacturing. Alcoa innovates multi-material solutions that advance our world. Their technologies enhance transportation, from automotive and commercial transport to air and space travel, and improve industrial and consumer electronics products. A big part of what Alcoa does is happening right here in the Quad Cities.
If these founding fathers of technology had not dared to dream we might not have the combines that harvest the golden fields of grain, the planes that whisk us away on much-needed vacations or yes, even a cup of hot tea. However, they didn’t stop with the idea. They put their energy, their resources and heart into creating and growing their companies.
So, what does all of this have to do with our future? A lot. We don’t need another John Deere or Alcoa, but there is plenty of room for growth. The first rail bridge across the Mississippi was created in the Quad Cities. The Rock Island Arsenal has played and remains a critical piece in our country’s safety. Boetje’s gave us mustard. Otto Frederick Rohwedder gave us a machine to slice the bread we put that mustard on. What will you give us? We all have the same opportunities that these creators had. We need to imagine the impossible, forget about the odds stacked against us and more importantly embrace what we have while looking for ways to grow.
It’s already happening around us. Look at what Sean Moeller is doing with Daytrotter. He’s on the forefront of the modern music scene, not only by helping cultivate talent but also by reinventing distribution methods. Diversity? We have it but do we spotlight it? Hero street has gone down in our nation’s history books for the sacrifices made for our country. Today, in nearby East Moline, there are more than 30 languages spoken in their school district. Just think of the unique talents many of those children possess. Talents that can be used to enhance this already incredible place we call home. The river runs through us. It also unites us. It’s the gateway for thousands of barges each year to carry goods from one end of the U.S. to the other. We housed the infamous gangster John Looney and we kick-started the career of a guy you may have heard of, Ronald Reagan. Who is the next generation of dreamers to change the fabric of America? Some may be right here. You may be one of them. Dare to dream. Look forward to our future, but don’t forget to turn back around. There is plenty of inspiration behind you.