When discussing business climate, the one issue that affects companies across the board is taxation. And however you cut that issue, Iowa has a better business climate than Illinois.

As much progress as each of the Quad Cities has made toward a vibrant downtown, it seems slower than anticipated or promised.

How do we know how well our local economy is faring? We're bombarded with anecdotes - this business closing, this restaurant opening, quarterly earnings from Deere - but how do those translate into a bigger picture?

Juliet Goodfriend The "real" world can teach you about marketing, or annual reports, or human resources. The real world can't teach you much about literature, or philosophy, or art.

Juliet Goodfriend thinks that higher education and corporations put too much value on those real-world skills, and not nearly enough emphasis on the liberal arts. In her words, there's too much focus on "professional training at the loss of real education."

Reader issue #620 You might notice something different in the River Cities' Reader Best of the Quad Cities poll this year: For the first time, we're offering "staff picks" for certain categories.

This doesn't mean that we're invalidating our readers' choices. Rather, we're offering individual picks based on our experience, as a way to broaden the conversation a little. Sometimes the best things in our community are popular; other times, they need a little push to get the recognition they deserve.

Restaurant that opened in 2006

1. Fields of Pizza

2. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

3. Portabella's Italian Bistro


Alternative-health-care provider

1. Palmer Clinics

2. Harvey Jack Chiropractic

3. Genesis Continuing Care


Fitness club


2. Gold's Gym

3. Ultimate Fitness


Flower shop

1. Flowerama

2. Hy-Vee

3. K'nees


Place to buy cool home accessories/furnishings

1. American Furniture

2. Pier 1 Imports

Community-service organization

1. American Red Cross


3. United Way


Local blues band

1. Ellis Kell Band

2. Electric Leroy

3. Shane Johnson


Local country band

1. Dani Lynn Howe Band

2. Jim the Mule

3. A Fifth of Country


Local jazz band

1. Josh Duffee & His Orchestra

1. The Tritones Jazz Ensemble

3. Craig Bentley Jazz Trio


Local rock band

1. Crossroads

Local theatre organization

1. Circa '21

2. Quad City Music Guild

3. Comedy Sportz


Local theatre production

1. Cats (Circa '21)

2. White Christmas (Circa '21)

3. Grease (Circa '21)

3. It's a Wonderful Life (Quad City Music Guild)

3. The Nutcracker (Ballet Quad Cities)


Annual family event/festival

1. Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Fest