Culver-Stockton College today announced the establishment of the Tri-State Development Summit at Culver-Stockton College with the support of a $1 million gift from Thomas A. Oakley.

Mr. Tom Oakley and C-SC President Dr. Douglas B. Palmer

“We are proud to partner with Tom Oakley, who has been involved in tri-state economic development projects, particularly infrastructure and transportation, for over sixty years, to serve as the administrative home for the Tri-State Development Summit,” states President of Culver-Stockton College Dr. Douglas B. Palmer. “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, 3 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, and will rebuild the task forces for transportation, the Mississippi River, education, agriculture, tourism, workforce development, connectivity, housing, and other vital areas in order to grow the economies of the entire region. The original and continued intent of the Tri-State Development Summit is to speak with one voice to 3 Governors, 6 United States Senators, 5 United States Representatives and all the State and local elected officials in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.

The Summit was first established in 1996, following the 1993 major flood on the Mississippi River that resulted in the bridge at Hannibal being closed for 76 days and the bridge in Quincy for 72 days. “These closures,” explains Oakley, “demonstrated the dependence of the region on the River. As a result, the Tri-State Development Summit was originated as a collaborative vision over 25 years ago by a group of regional leaders. The mission of the Summit was to ensure that our entire region work together to address the issues that would allow the entire, approximate 100-mile circle of the tri-state region to grow and thrive economically.”

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

“What’s unique about this new partnership,” adds Palmer, “is that there will be a cohesive, daily focus with all sectors coming together to drive positive change. Leadership from higher education institutions will join with economic development organizations, along with a select group of advisors, and specialist 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.”

The transformational gift to establish the Tri-State Development Summit at Culver-Stockton College will provide for a full-time Executive Director who will serve as the key management leader responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, and strategic plan of the Summit.

“The impact of this gift by Mr. Oakley cannot be overstated,” said Palmer. “What we are creating here is a unique partnership that brings together experts across disciplines and multiple state and county lines in order to make a real, collective impact that will benefit not one of us, but all of us; building 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.”

The Tri-State Development Summit at Culver-Stockton College is currently conducting a search for an individual to serve as the Executive Director. To learn more about this opportunity, please contact Leslie Payne, Vice President for Advancement and Marketing, Culver-Stockton College at

Contact the Marketing & Public Relations Office, at or 573-288-6000 ext. 6728 for more information.

NOTE: A number that appears immediately after a person’s name (i.e. Jane Doe ’18) is a reference to the year that person earned their bachelor’s degree from Culver-Stockton.

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