What do France, Canada, Vietnam and Japan all have in common? In the past 30 days, Greater Peoria EDC staff have connected with companies or organizations from each of those countries. Lenora Fisher joined us as our first ever full-time Director of Business Attraction and she has really hit the ground running.
The first visit was from Business France, the economic consulate organization for that country. They have offices across the nation and personnel at their Chicago office specialize in the French transportation sector and were very interested to visit us to learn more about the region’s expertise in autonomous vehicles. You can read more about their visit to Greater Peoria here.
Next, we were visited by Atlas 365, a Canadian startup working to develop construction materials from industrial hemp. They were identified as a potential partner by Kim Uhlig, our retiring Director of Business Attraction and the State of Illinois’ DCEO Canadian contact. Hemp has been legal to grow in Canada for decades and now that is legal again to grow in the United States, we’ve been investigating how our region can be the national center for both growing industrial hemp and processing it. The visit from Atlas 365 helped jump start some great conversations with farmers and business people.
Just last week, Dr. John Levan of the US Vietnam Foundation visited Peoria to continue his work with us to explore potential business relationships between us and that country. Dr. Levan’s first contact with our region was with one of our great volunteer business champions, Mark Slover. Vietnam is an emerging market and we’ve been working to understand how we might be of mutual benefit to each other, especially in the areas of soybean processing and exports, educational exchanges, and health care.
Finally, I am writing this newsletter article while sitting at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, having just finished serving as part of the State of Illinois’ delegation to the Midwest US Japan Association conference. This was the 51st such conference, held each year alternately in Japan and a Midwest state. It was a great chance to build relationships with great Japanese companies. Greater Peoria is already blessed with great Japanese investment. Of course, Komatsu has a very large presence here, but many people do not realize that PMP Fermentation on Peoria’s riverfront is owned by Fuso Chemical. And recently Morton’s G&D Integrated worked with Yamashin Filter to open a location here in our community. It was an honor to represent Greater Peoria at this distinguished event, and I’m excited to attend the 52nd annual conference being held in Chicago next September.
The pitch to these foreign corporations is the same pitch we use for domestic opportunities: Greater Peoria is an amazing place to do business. The cost of doing business is low, the workforce is tremendous, and our logistical advantages of multiple modes of transportation (rail, river, road and air) and a central US location are unmatched. Business attraction efforts are also the essence of our “Act Regional” approach. Imagine each individual community in Greater Peoria trying to source and follow-up on each of these opportunities. Not only would there be a great deal of wasted and duplicated energy, but the target companies would be pretty confused. When we speak with one, coordinated voice we stand a better chance of securing new investment.
Those of you reading this who do business in Greater Peoria already know why it’s a great place. It’s our honor to share that message with the rest of the world.