Guest submission by Bill Stoermer, Communications Manager, Exelon's Quad Cities Nuclear Generating Station
By now you have heard the great news that both the Illinois House and Senate have passed the Future Energy Jobs Bill. Last week was one for the record books, and we are so thankful for the ongoing and abundance of support from the Quad Cities Chamber and our fellow Chamber members who helped pass this bill.
After working toward this legislation for several years, we had reached an impasse with our legislators. The closing date of Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities plants was looming, and the fall veto session was our last chance to get legislation passed and save 4,200 jobs in the region.
We began the week in Springfield with the Chamber and labor leaders testifying in support of the bill. On Wednesday, Governor Rauner agreed to sign the bill and we were feeling optimistic that we had finally reached an agreement. On Thursday, the final day of the veto session, the revised bill faced unexpected new hurdles; there was a lot of anxiety and uncertainty on whether the bill would pass. When this shift happened, the Chamber quickly rallied the community and our fellow members to advocate on behalf our region. Within the hour the Chamber organized a message to all members urging action to support Exelon, and you responded. So many of you answered that urgent request and this was an important difference maker in the outcome of this legislation. Your calls lead the conversation and reminded our legislators how much was at stake - 4,200 good-paying jobs, $1.2 billion in economic activity generated by the plants and the impact on utility costs for our region’s manufacturers.
We had one more powerful tool that had a hand in saving these jobs: the Support Exelon Facebook page. Since its inception in May, the Chamber has been building a strong network of supporters on the social media platform. This page served as a communications, education and advocacy tool that enabled our community to quickly and easily engage. Today the page has over 4,400 followers. Messages shared through the Support Exelon Quad Cities Facebook page would receive hundreds of likes and shares, and often reached in the realm of 20,000 people. The community page frequently served as inspiration, showing the incredible tenacity of Quad Citizens fighting for a brighter future for the region.
This bill may not have passed without the support of Chamber members and members of the community at large who relentlessly and consistently showed support for this legislation, especially those who made phone calls on the day it was passed. We also are grateful to the leadership and support of Senator Neil Anderson, Representatives Pat Verschoore, Mike Smiddy, and Don Moffitt, along with our partners at labor and the building trades for their essential and continued support of this legislation. The passage of this bill shows how effective Quad Cities’ advocacy and economic development efforts are when we have a regional business organization like the Chamber driving the community toward a common goal.
Governor Rauner will be at Riverdale High School at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow to sign the bill. You’re all invited to attend the bill signing from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating this tremendous victory for the Quad Cities.