In 1993, flooding on the Mississippi River wreaked havoc in the Midwest. As rising water closed bridges, highways, railways, and barge traffic, the tri-state area of Northeast Missouri, Southeast Iowa, and Western Illinois learned that a common transportation network was the lifeline of their economies.
Born of the need to cultivate working relationships beyond state boundaries, a committee of five organized the first Tri-State Development Summit in 1996. The objective was to strengthen the region's position by joining together on common issues. The Summit began as an annual networking and educational event and has now evolved into an ongoing economic development initiative housed at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, MO.
The organization serves over 600,000 people throughout the 36-county Tri-State region. Through active stakeholder participation on 7 vital task forces, Tri-State Development brings together area leaders and influencers to define and address common challenges; work together to effectively leverage opportunities; and improve the quality of life for all who call the region home.
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 honored that business leader and philanthropist Tom Oakley, who passionately served this region, chose Culver-Stockton College to serve as the administrative home for Tri-State Development. As we work closely with community partners, we commit to bringing together the people and resources within our region to collectively impact the economic vitality of our 36- county, 3-state area of northeast Missouri, west-central Illinois and southeastern Iowa.
– Dr. Douglas B. Palmer, President