Here are some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Area Development: Our road warrior, Lenora, attended a site selector and business attraction conference organized by Area Development in Greenville, SC last week. She picked this conference because several site consultant firms are headquartered in Greenville and because she had heard incredible things about Greenville’s transformation in recent years. Area Development conferences are good because they involve a different group of consultants than are in the Site Selectors Guild and the sessions are heavily focused on education and knowledge sharing. The sessions are structured as workshops where participants dive deep into topics pertaining to site selection and she always comes back with insights and best practices to share with our local stakeholders. Session topics included the Logistics Analysis that Drives Industrial Site Selection; Carbon Reduction and Site Selection – How to Prepare for and Win Projects; The Evolution of Site Selection; and Office Market Transition.
Greater Peoria in Bloomington: So I’m pushing the geographic boundaries here a bit, but I wanted to share some news about our great Workforce Solutions intern, Alika Rakhimova. Alika is entering her junior year at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington and has been an intern for us since January (first for Kari, and I guess now for me!) Alika, who is a foreign student from Kyrgyzstan, is majoring in math with minors in finance and data science. Her work for us involves creating an asset map of all of the workforce development providers in the region. This includes identifying all the various programs, number of completions, retention rates and other valuable data that will help shape our marketing message. This week she presented some of her work in a “poster session” within the Math department, sharing findings and discussing with students and faculty the importance of workforce development. If you want to make her day, connect with her on LinkedIn and comment on her post.
One State: Kathie was invited to be a panelist for a session within the “One State Conference” in Springfield earlier this week. The Illinois Arts Alliance and the Illinois Arts Council Agency sponsor this annual conference and Capitol visit day to bring together artists, art advocates and community leaders to network, share resources and explore best practices. Kathie was joined on a panel by fellow Greater Peorians Dr. Mae Gilliland Wright (Arts Partners of Central Illinois) and Alexander Martin (a local artist and community leader) to discuss “Cultural Asset Mapping in Central Illinois: Research Methodologies, Models, and Challenges.” Arts are such an important part of community value, economic development and quality of life. The session was based around a cultural asset map of Peoria conducted by the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana in which Kathie participated. The panelists reflected on insights the project sparked for them around strengths and opportunities in Greater Peoria’s arts and cultural ecosystem and their work toward a more inclusive arts and cultural ecosystem in the region.
The Heart of GPEDC: I use this space to talk about all the great things that the GPEDC staff is up to in any given week, but there is one person quietly behind the scenes making sure it all happens (and as she reminds us, “that we get paid.”) Melissa has been the GPEDC Office Manager for about eight years now and truly is the ballast in this ship. Wednesday was Administrative Professional Appreciation Day and despite my wife reminding me of this three times this week, I still managed to forget on the actual day. I tried to make a game saving tackle with some flowers this morning, but the truth is that flowers aren’t quite adequate recognition of Melissa’s real value to both the organization and our entire region. Any of you who have a trusted office manager or administrative assistant know where the real power of your organization lies, as well as its super power. Thank you, Melissa, for being the unheralded center of our team.
B2B Grants: A few weeks remain for restaurants, hotels and creative arts businesses to apply for Illinois Back-to-Business grants. Applications accepted through May 10. More information at www.gpcovid.com where businesses can also request help from one of GPEDC’s “Community Navigators.”
Have a great weekend.