Exelon project offers $20 million local impact

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March is now high season for hotels in LeClaire.

"I like it very, very much," said Sharon Cornett, a server at the nearby Bier Stube.

All rooms are sold out on a March weekday, and they're booked solid until April. But it's not because of tourism.

"We seen wonderful upswings from having them come," said Donna Walley, who owns Aunt Hattie's in downtown LeClaire.

Who's coming?

Inside Exelon's Quad Cities Generating Station, more than 2,000 skilled temporary workers are joining the workforce. They're putting in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week.

While performing some 15,000 projects, they need a place to stay. That means staying at hotels in nearby communities.

"It's a great boost to their businesses," said Exelon's Bill Stoermer.

While workers take care of projects at the plant, they're also spending money at local businesses. All together, it totals about a $20 million impact for the local economy.

That means plenty of preparations in the kitchen. LeClaire's Bier Stube is busier than normal these days. It takes lots of kitchen work to feed the extra customers.

"Small businesses, you know, it's a great increase in income for them," said Cornett. "It's just awesome."

Awesome for LeClaire's retail district. Local shopping and dining offer a break from the workload.

"Sometimes they'll invite their wive for the weekend," Walley said. "The wives come downtown, and they shop. Or during the weekend, the wives and husbands both come to town and shop."

Work will continue throughout the month. That creates plenty of opportunities for local and visiting workers, and many chances to spend money.

"For the smaller communities in the path of the Quad Cities Generating Station, it's a great economic impact for them," Stoermer said.

Exelon's project is also helping to serve up economic development, one plate at a time.