Born of the need to cultivate working relationships beyond state boundaries, a committee of five organized the first Tri-State Development Summit in 1996. “Our first objective was simply to assemble, get to know one another, and define common issues,” said Tom Boland, former chair of the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission from Hannibal, Missouri. “The summit has since evolved from an annual networking and educational event into an ongoing economic development initiative.” The organization now serves over 600,000 people throughout the 36-county tri-state region.

In 2022, Mr. Thomas A. Oakley, businessman and philanthropist from Quincy, Illinois, and one of the original members of the Tri-State Development Summit made a $1 million gift to permanently locate the organization at Culver-Stockton College. The gift provided for an Executive Director to oversee the organization and to establish a full-time focus on regional economic and community development. The organization is also committed to organizing an annual summit, which draws a diverse crowd of elected officials, community leaders, CEOs, economic developers, bankers, educators, transportation and tourism representatives and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“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.”