Mentesti leaves his mark on the Tri-States

Jim Mentesti has been the face of economic development in Quincy and Tri-State area.

For 27 years Jim Mentesti has been the face of economic development in Quincy and Tri-State area.

On Wednesday he announced that he is stepping down as president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation.

We sat down with Mentesti and two men who have worked closely with him for many years and talked about some of the highlights of a career that has literally changed the economic face of the Tri-States.

How do you encapsulate a 27 year career is just a minute or two?

As he prepares to step down from the post he's held for 27 years, we asked Jim Mentesti to take us through some of the highlights of his career.

One the first big highlights, was retaining Knapheide Manufacturing in Quincy after the flood of "93."

"Maybe when I write my book , that may be number one. We helped find a spot for him out on North 24th street. In the middle of farmland," Mentesti said. "But it also allowed us then to put the Wispack plant in that same area."

Another highlight was the revitalization of Quincy's downtown business district.

Former Mayor Chuck Scholz who worked closely with Mentesti says it was about developing an attractive and welcoming place for visitors and residents.

"It took somebody with some vision to put that all together and I don't think that the city on its own could have done that without the realization by Jim that everybody has a stake in downtown Quincy," Scholz said.

But perhaps the crowning jewel of Jim Mentesti's tenure is the development of the Tri-State Economic Development Summit.

Chuck Scholz said you can see the evidence of that effort all over the Tri-States.

Scholz said he is amazed at the progress of that effort, "We had no idea that the individual task force would go forward and make as much progress as they've had. Hundreds of miles of roads have been paved since then as a result of that collective effort."

For the time being the man who is taking over as the face of GREDF for Jim Mentesti is Phil Conover, who has worked side by side with Mentesti for many years.

Conover has high praise for Mentesti, "He is the best I've ever met at bringing the right people together at the right time for the right reasons."

So, after such a long and valuable career is the man himself ready to hang up his "economic spurs?"

"Am I ready, yeah! After 27 years am I willing to give it another 6-7 months," Mentesti said. "You're darn right. Because when you fall in love with something, when you've been blessed to have what I've had outside that door, the longer the better."

Although Mentesti is retiring as President of GREDF, he is not going away.

He will be a consultant to the agency's interim President Phil Conover, until the board hires a permanent replacement.