Oakley gift establishes Tri-State Development Summit at Culver-Stockton

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Culver-Stockton College President Dr. Douglas B. Palmer, standing, and Thomas A. Oakley | Photo courtesy of Culver-Stockton College

CANTON, Mo. — Culver-Stockton College announced Wednesday the establishment of the Tri-State Development Summit at the school with the support of a $1 million gift from Thomas A. Oakley, president and CEO of Quincy Media from 1969 to 2008.

“We are proud to partner with Tom Oakley, who has been involved in tri-state economic development projects, particularly infrastructure and transportation, for more than 60 years, to serve as the administrative home for the Tri-State Development Summit,” C-SC President Dr. Douglas B. Palmer said in a press release. “Together, we are committed to bringing together the people and the resources within our region to recreate and restore the Tri-State Summit organization to its original model for economic development in this 36-county, three-state area of Northeast Missouri, Western Illinois and Southeastern Iowa.” 

The new organizational structure will include an annual meeting held in each of the three states sequentially. It will rebuild the task forces for transportation, the Mississippi River, education, agriculture, tourism, workforce development, connectivity, housing and other vital areas to grow the economies of the region. The intent of the summit is to speak with one voice to three governors, six senators, five U.S. Representatives and all state and local elected officials in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.

The summit was first established in 1996 after the 1993 flood on the Mississippi River forced the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge at Hannibal to be closed for 76 days and the Quincy Memorial Bridge and Quincy Bayview Bridge to be closed for 72 days.

“These closures demonstrated the dependence of the region on the river,” Oakley said in a press release. “As a result, the Tri-State Development Summit was originated as a collaborative vision more than 25 years ago by a group of regional leaders. The mission of the Summit was to ensure that our entire region worked together to address the issues that would allow the 100-mile circle of the tri-state region to grow and thrive economically.

“Unfortunately in recent years, because of lack of funding and the loss of many of the original summit leadership group, much of the efforts of the task forces has declined, with the exception of a summit meeting held every two years, which in itself has accomplished a good deal.”

“What’s unique about this new partnership is there will be a cohesive, daily focus with all sectors coming together to drive positive change,” Palmer said. “Leadership from higher education institutions will join with economic development organizations, along with a select group of advisors and specialists in various key areas, that are seeking economic growth in our region.

“We will be working together to create a pipeline for workforce development initiatives and long-term economic enhancements. Our community and industry leaders will outline task force priorities that will create new opportunities for each of us to contribute. This is an exciting time for us to work together to make significant strides for our shared, collaborative benefit.”

Oakley’s gift will provide for a full-time executive director who will oversee the administration, programs and strategic plan of the summit. To learn more about the search for the executive director, contact Leslie Payne, vice president for advancement and marketing at Culver-Stockton College, at LPayne@culver.edu.

“The impact of this gift by Mr. Oakley cannot be overstated,” Palmer said. “What we are creating here is a partnership that brings together experts across disciplines and multiple state and county lines to make a real, collective impact that will benefit all of us. It will build a level of distinction for our region that we believe will unlock opportunities for this generation and the next as we tap into the investments of education, community and economic development, infrastructure, policy research and so much more all while addressing the important issues facing our area.” 

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