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Downtown Rock Island Director hired to revitalize the area

"Downtowns are really the heartbeat of our communities and I'm looking forward to helping Rock Island prosper and grow."

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Change is on the way to downtown Rock Island. The brand-new position of Downtown Rock Island Director has been filled. Jack Cullen will be taking on the task of revitalizing the area, with the help of a steering committee to make decisions on how to use left over city TIF funds.

Cullen says he hopes to make noticeable changes to the downtown area. This will include things like creating more events, changing infrastructure while also restoring existing infrastructure, and working on enhancing streetscape. Cullen saying, “Make it a place that people are excited about spending their time not just at night, but all times of the day.”

It’s a change that makes business owner Patricia Belvel excited. She owns Colman Florist and Greenhouse, and she wants to see more family-oriented events and shops saying, “I think downtown has more improvement to do. It’s kind of got the reputation of being a bar district but there’s more down here than just bars.”

She’s been located in the downtown area for six years now, and she says it’s a great location. She’d love to see more people enjoying the area. After the past year there have been even more stores that have closed down due to COVID-19. It’s left many store fronts empty. 

Belvel hopes Cullen’s work will bring more businesses to the area. “Hopefully they'll get filled with other stores that will bring crowds of people in.”

Cullen says that is his top priority. He wants to make sure existing businesses feel supported so that new businesses feel comfortable opening their doors downtown. “We are going to try and make some changes that the community can see that generates that positivity and buzz and will hopefully make people want to come down here and spend their time.”

He says the goal is to build on existing amenities in the area, expanding on what is already there. Cullen says he admires the architecture and infrastructure the area has and wants to work off of that. 

“There is so much great bones and history in downtown Rock Island from the arts and entertainment, to a mix of restaurants, just the unique characters business owners, residents, that make this a special place.”

Cullen saying he’s excited for the opportunity to help Rock Island prosper and grow. “Making a place that people are excited about is crucial just to retain people here, new business, new investment. Downtowns are really the heartbeat of our communities.”

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