Once again the Toyota Motor Company, as reported by the Bloomberg Company, has announced plans to expand its manufacturing capability in the United States, to the tune of $12 billion, in response to continuing favorable economic conditions and demographics. The still-vacant 156-acre site of the former Case/New Holland plant offers to Toyota an excellent opportunity to seize upon three critical needs it has at this time.

First, it will allow for production within the Midwest; Toyota has been on record as stating that the United States, not Mexico or Canada, and in particular Illinois, is a place they would like to be. Being a serious player in the automobile-manufacturing industry is oftentimes determined on how close one is perceived to be to Detroit, and the advantages that the OEMs and all the peripheral manufacturers can have on one's business, from the advantages created as it pertains to supply-chain solutions, to subcontracting, to the abundance of a skilled labor set.

Secondly, the site of the former Case/New Holland plant offers strategic advantages in regards to access to all points north, south, east, and west. Toyota's strategic positioning is also in play when viewed with an eye for the future, as aluminum becomes more and more important in the automobile manufacturing industry and we see the fuel and costs-savings advantages it will have, especially in light of having access to the world's largest aluminum company right across the river.

Third, we here in western Illinois have the skilled job set and available pool of talent to continue on with production in the manufacturing industry. The economic pendulum has swung considerably in the last 20 years, but there is still a place for lean, efficient, and productive manufacturing to succeed here in western Illinois.

Former East Moline Mayor Joe Moreno had begun initial communications with our governor's Opportunity Returns program, and Jack Lavin, Illinois Economic Development Officer, and I ask current Mayor John Thodos, as well as new Senator Mike Jacobs and Representative Mike Boland, to continue on with pursuing manufacturing options for the Case/New Holland site.

Dennis Ahern


Protect National Parks

The recent announcement of the Bush administration repealing the Roadless Rule in our national forests was yet another step taken in this administration's plan to pillage our national forests and to turn them over to the will of those who live nearby. The government should be working to permanently protect all remaining roadless areas in each state and across the National Forest System. These are areas of national significance and they deserve a single, nationwide policy to protect them - not a piecemeal state-by-state approach.

The original Roadless Rule was the product of exhaustive studies and scientific, economic, and public input, including 600 public meetings. Unprecedented in its overwhelming popularity, the rule garnered 10 times more public comments than any federal rule in history. Sadly, the Bush administration hastily replaced it with an ill-conceived plan that forces a convoluted process on governors and leaves America's last remaining wild forests at risk.

Our national forests belong to all of us, not just to the people who live near the forest. Governors already have control over their state forests. National forests were established to benefit all Americans, not just local communities.

Gerald Neff

Sierra Club's National Forest Protection Committee

Pleasant Valley, Iowa

Venus Envy a Success

On behalf of all the Venuses along the Mississippi River, I want to express heartfelt congratulations to the Quad Cities for a highly successful premiere Venus Envy arts event in Davenport on April 23.

The artwork and performances were spectacular, and overall, the event was an unforgettable experience thanks to a highly proficient and devoted committee of women and a cadre of exceptional volunteers.

With much support from the community-development arts agency MidCoast Fine Arts, Venus Envy in the Quad Cities attracted over 1,200 visitors to the newly renovated Bucktown Center for the Arts, an impressive four-story building devoted to supporting the area's arts community. Throughout the evening, feedback was extremely positive. While I eavesdropped, I beamed. An impressively diverse crowd of women and men continually commented on how wonderful the event was.

The Quad Cities really rolled out the red carpet for Venus Envy. We are so grateful for the remarkable media coverage and for the generous support from the area's residents and civic leaders. My friends and I who traveled from St. Louis and Chicago felt so welcomed and equally impressed while restaurants in downtown Davenport informed us of an hour and a half wait prior to the show on Saturday night.

We are very excited about next year! We invite everyone who came to return and bring their friends who missed it this year. We promise an unforgettable evening of the finest art and performances created by the Quad Cities' most talented women.

Many thanks and kudos to the Quad Cities. Give yourselves a round of applause for successfully including the arts in your efforts to revitalize the area. We are very proud and honored!

Mallarie Zimmer

Executive Director/Founder

Venus Envy

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