ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -
Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley says his city is ready for strong growth during his final State of the City Address on January 9, 2017.
The two-term mayor finishes up on May 1, 2017.
Still, the recent past casts a shadow over the city's future plans.
Rock Island put its eggs into the former Watchtower Plaza. But Walmart scrambled plans for a supercenter with an abrupt, crushing blow.
"Walmart pulling out at the last minute was definitely a shock to all of us," Pauley said.
After the speech, Mayor Pauley talked about that shock.
"(Walmart) tried to give me this story," he said. "Whoa, don't go there. The point is, you're not coming here. You led us all along, all this time, and now you're not coming here."
Rock Island forges ahead with developments to enhance its business and residential communities.
Hill & Valley is a success story. Once ready to leave the Quad Cities, it turned part of the old Farmall plant into a thriving bakery.
"They have not only thrived, they've added 70 jobs," Pauley continued. "They're expanding, adding another 50 new jobs."
The city also uses new sites to grow by designing housing to keep families in Rock Island with a more vibrant downtown.
"We've had about 25 ribbon-cuttings in the last two years, and only one or two have been bars," Pauley said. "It's really been a big development of the downtown area."
Rock Island still faces uncertainty from the state of Illinois. For two consecutive years, like other Illinois cities, dealing with decisions and worries over cuts to programs and services.
"You're looking at other states that can do things we can't do," Pauley said. "We're losing businesses to other states."
As Mayor Pauley, 70, wraps up eight years in office, there's optimism for the future.
"I'm proud to have been part of it as your mayor," he concluded.