On Tuesday, Greater Peoria received some challenging news when Caterpillar announced plans to establish a global headquarters in Chicago. The loss to our region is estimated at 300 of the more than 12,000 they currently employ. While the loss of these positions will certainly be felt by our communities, the 12,000 who will remain including vice presidents and managers, mechanical and electrical engineers, IT and logistics specialists, research and development teams, technicians and assemblers, administrative and clerical roles, and countless others, will continue to serve as a strong economic engine for Greater Peoria.
No region can stand on the shoulders of a single employer and Greater Peoria is no different. We are proud to be the hometown of Caterpillar, but we are also proud of the diverse group of industries that call our region their home including OSF Healthcare and UnityPoint Health – Peoria/Pekin, Maui Jim, RLI, Core Construction, Excel Foundry, CSE Software, and so many others. We are proud of the small startups that will be our future including Bump Boxes, AutonomouStuff, Natural Fiber Welding, Onefire, Yield 360, and Dev Bright. And we are proud of the talented, productive, and hard-working people in Greater Peoria who enjoy a lifestyle only a mid-sized city in the Midwest can offer.
Our region has been working towards diversification and resiliency for decades. The growth of our healthcare industry, our largest employment sector, is just one example of the strides we have made in this endeavor. Newer strategies including Startup Peoria, our Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network, Economic Gardening, and our business attraction initiatives are all well underway to continue building that resiliency.
The Greater Peoria EDC just completed a job projection survey with 41 of our largest regional employers. Collectively they anticipate hiring over 9,200 new employees over the next 24 months. Thirty-one of the employers we met with last year are collectively planning to invest $105 million into our regional economy through expansions.
We will miss those 300 friends and neighbors who will call another city their home and we know they will miss our wonderful lifestyle, but Greater Peoria will move forward as not only the proud hometown of Caterpillar, but as so much more than just Big Yellow.