Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Good Jobs Challenge: Last week we got some amazing news! Illinois Central College, leading a coalition that includes Bradley University, Eureka College and a host of social service agencies, were notified by our friends at the US Economic Development Administration that they are being awarded a “Good Jobs Challenge” grant. The grant (one of only 32 awarded out of 509 applications) will provide $15 million in funding over five years to develop and launch an IT Workforce Accelerator, training and upskilling people in trades ranging from networking to PC support. Dozens of companies provided support for the grant, making pledges to hire qualified graduates of the accelerator. The need for IT training spans all of our industries and has been mentioned as one of the region’s critical workforce gaps. The training will provide particular focus to low-income individuals and will include funds for wraparound services like transportation and child care. A hat tip to Kari at GPEDC for her efforts around employer engagement. A press conference with all the partners will be held next Tuesday at 9 am at ICC’s Peoria Campus on North University.
Cost of Living: Our Data Fellow, Andrew Fischer, finished up a new view looking at the cost of living index and how it has changed over time since the first quarter of 2018. The overall cost of living index in the Peoria metro area has decreased 8.65% from 2018 to the present. (This doesn’t mean that life is cheaper here now than in 2018, but that relative to other metro areas, the cost of living is less.) Of all the regions compared, we have the largest decrease by far. Andrew created a nice data visualization that you can see here.
Thank you, Grace: This week marked the end of Grace Clucas’ fellowship with GPEDC through Lead for America. For the last year, Grace has helped our rural communities prepare for oncoming state and federal broadband funding and coordinated with PCs for People to help low income individuals obtain free computers. For this upcoming year she will be teaching 5th grade (and just as importantly, coaching softball and basketball) at Visitation Catholic School in Kewanee (near her hometown of Galva). We are so appreciative of Grace’s service to our community and wish her the very best. She will make a great teacher.
International Student Engagement: In February, Kari gave a presentation with a group of international students from ICC. Kari explained the work of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council and strengthening the local workforce ecosystem. As a part of that conversation, Kari also learned about their journeys of finding employment and the barriers and opportunities they have experienced. They had such a great conversation a few months ago that they invited Kari to share a meal of Indian food last Saturday. It was a great conversation and they were happy to report that a few of them had even found jobs by using the GP Job Board.
Illinois Defense Network: GPEDC is a proud partner in the Illinois Defense Network. The latest quarterly newsletter can be found here.
US Senate Appropriations: Greater Peoria had some victories within Sens. Duckworth and Durbin’s final list of earmarks that will be included in the upcoming FY23 budget. Not a done deal by any means, but clearing the first hurdle is always important. A full list of Illinois earmark requests is here but here is a list of local requests that made the cut:
- Rural Telemedicine Expansion, Eureka: $163,000 to Carle Eureka Hospital to expand their rural telemedicine program.
- Sewer Extension, Peoria: $600,000 to the City of Peoria to extend Peoria’s sewer system to open land to new economic development.
- Young Minds Project, Peoria: $1 million to Methodist Health Services to support renovations for a new facility to house both inpatient and outpatient care for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit at Unity Point Health
- Capital Improvements, Peoria: $3.5 million to the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) for necessary modernizations to the federal buildings that house laboratories of the Agricultural Research Service.
Have a great weekend.