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Name the most indelible icons that have defined and connected the Quad-Cities and its residents over time, and more than likely your list will include corn, John Deere and the Mississippi River.

The three are like threads woven into the rich fabric that is the Quad-Cities. Their relationship to jobs might be immediate, like corn's connection to a grain dealer, or distant, like the golden crop's link to the waitress who serves your morning coffee.

See how these three iconic threads create jobs by reading the stories in Q-C Connected, the 2011 progress reports published today, Feb. 13 and Feb. 20 in The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus.

Today's report features stories about Quad-Citians whose jobs are connected to corn. Week 2 of Q-C Connected will report on jobs related to John Deere (the man and the company). Week 3 will conclude the series with stories about jobs connected to the Mississippi River.

As for corn, it's true that fewer individuals are farming as a result of the consolidation and corporatization of family farms. However, many Quad-Citians still make their living as a result of corn -- a plant first cultivated by American Indians and grown in such communities as Saukenuk, the Sauk village that was located on the banks of the Rock River in present-day Rock Island.

By the 19th century, corn "was closely tied to the development of the Midwest," according to the paper "Origin, History, and Uses of Corn" by agronomists Lance Gibson and Garren Benson of Iowa State University. Since then, the corn industry has continued to affect and create employment for countless people.

Today's stories include jobs directly related to corn, such as farmers, crop dusters and grain handlers, as well as jobs indirectly related to the commodity, mechanics, a cafe owner and distillery operator among them.

Look inside for these and other great stories and photographs.










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