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De’Andre Robinson has only been the Rock Island Downtown Alliance operations manager for a little over a month and he already loves the job and is looking forward to big things coming to the greater downtown area he serves. Downtown’s new cleaner and safer campaign leader came to the job after several years doing mobile street outreach and case management work at Christian Care in Rock Island, which helped him best 24 other candidates to win the post. Mr. Robinson hit the ground running from Day One, Alliance Executive Director Jack Cullen told the QCBJ. In just 18 days, he made 126 business contacts in the 65-block area that is working to revitalize itself. Mr. Robinson credits, in part, a branded utility vehicle that takes him around the district at a quicker pace than walking but not so fast that he can’t spot problems to solve. “He quickly rose to the top of candidates that applied for this job because he has the boots-on-the-ground experience working with individuals who are experiencing quality of life issues, working with partners in law enforcement, working with business owners and doing dedicated outreach in the downtown area,” Mr. Cullen said. “He’s comfortable in this urban environment and he is comfortable interacting with all different kinds of people, which is hard to coach,” he added. “It came down to the intangibles and he’s a longtime Rock Island resident and so he is eager to help improve the community.” Mr. Robinson said, “I love that I’m getting to clean up and make a difference in the area and an impact on the community. That’s truly what I really love about what I’m doing and just to see the general big picture, the outcome of the process and the change that we will make – so I’m looking forward to all of that.” The team Mr. Robinson leads also includes two uniformed Cleaning Ambassadors who can be spotted pushing large, rolling carts that hold trash and tools for cleaning up. Such visibility is important to property owners who agreed to unite and form a downtown special service area and to tax themselves to improve the SSA area. “For downtown stakeholders, whether they’re business owners, residents or property owners, seeing these uniformed workers dedicating their time to improving the downtown means a lot to them,” Mr. Cullen said. “They’re seeing their investment, their money put to good use to really do what was intended to provide a level of service above and beyond what a municipality or city government can provide.” That service is part of what attracted Mr. Robinson to the job. “Working in the downtown area, working with people, working with business owners – and I’m pretty familiar with the folks in the area – and so I thought it was a great job and a great opportunity,” he said. The smaller size of the district also makes it easier to connect with those who need help as opposed to his previous job working with populations across 15 counties. He credited that Christian Care job with giving him the experience he needs to take on this current challenge. For example, he uses the computer skills he learned doing case studies to electronically track his new team’s contacts with businesses to ensure it is covering all six zones that make up the SSA. Mr. Robinson said he is hearing from some of those property owners who say they already can see the difference these early efforts have made. Business owners gathered at an Oct. 3 event to celebrate the Alliance’s launch also loudly applauded Mr. Robinson for such a quick start. “I’m glad that it’s impactful and it’s being noticed. It makes me want to keep going harder,” Mr. Robinson said.