ROCK ISLAND- Two years after leaders at Walmart decided not to build a store in the city, leaders are still trying to figure out what will go in its place. However, that's not the only site Mayor Mike Thoms is focused on.
The mayor says more jobs could come from existing businesses in the city. He says Rock Island hasn't shied away from trying to get big manufacturers with better paying jobs, but that often comes at a very high price.
"The incentives get higher," Thoms said. "The payback takes a little longer, and the return on the investment, but I think they're necessary to have."
Because of that, Mayor Thoms is working on trying to expand existing businesses by asking them what the city can do to help. Hill & Valley is looking for 15 to 20 more employees at their site in the QCIC Building. McLaughlin Body has closed its facility in East Moline, but it's moved those 25 employees to their facility in Rock Island.
"A lot of the businesses feel the current businesses get forgotten," Thoms said. "You give all these incentives and focus on new things that come in and everything else, which are important, but you have to make sure that you take care of the people that have been here and are loyal."
That's why Toms says he wants to worry about existing business owners just as much as trying to get something in the 11th Street corridor. Thoms also told News 8 city leaders have talked to three different companies when it comes to the proposed Walmart site. Only two of those companies have expressed interest but not at this time.