Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Newcomer Pool Party: The GP2030 Talent Attraction Initiative hosted another welcome mixer for new residents to our region. A few dozen folks joined us at Mt. Hawley Country Club for a pool party and were able to enjoy food and drinks and meet some new people. Welcoming our newcomers is a pillar of this initiative. Who is a better ambassador for Greater Peoria than people who have just moved here? They have a whole network “back home” who are sure to be asking about their impression of their new home so far. Making them feel welcome and connecting them to the community helps not only them, but maybe helps spread the word.
Big Table Press Conference: We weren’t done with three press conferences last week — there was another one this week! On Tuesday, our regional collaboration gathered at the Peoria Civic Center to announce the return of The Big Table in an in-person format. It sometimes feels like yesterday, and sometimes like a decade ago, but our last in-person gathering was in October 2019. This year we will come together for a day-long conversation about our region’s strengths and struggles on October 20. You can register for the event, or better yet sign up to be a table facilitator, here. The press conference was well covered by local media and included the release of a video featuring the impact of the work of Angie Ostaszewski in using social media to attract people to relocate to Greater Peoria.
CEDS Progress Update: At the press conference, we also shared a “Progress Snapshot” of the work accomplished through the Big Table Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy since its inception in March 2021. I remember very clearly some criticism from the first Big Table event that these sorts of “community meetings” rarely result in actual action. I took that as a personal challenge to make sure those conversations were not just talk. This high level summary lists progress in the strategies under each of the CEDS’ five goal areas: Jobs & Economy, Workforce, Quality of Life, Natural Resources, and Diversity & Inclusion. A hat tip to David for quickly creating an attractive document that helps people understand that we are working towards our shared goals. Check it out here.
Startup Gatherings: It was also a busy week for our startup and innovation activities. On Tuesday night, Distillery Labs hosted a social gathering for entrepreneurs, want-trepreneurs, and people just interested in being part of our startup ecosystem at Tres Rojas Winery in Washington. These monthly gatherings are a great way to generate “collisions” between people and also build our sense of community. In a similar fashion, on Thursday our friends at the Morton EDC partnered with Distillery Labs, GPEDC, the SBDC and others to host another AgTech Connect session. Held at the Growmark facility in Morton, the meeting creates opportunities for farmers and entrepreneurs to meet each other and discuss problems and solutions. The event even included an opportunity to check out the latest in drone technology and its agricultural applications.
Precision Planting: Speaking of AgTech, Sally and I were happy to join the great team at Precision Planting for a groundbreaking ceremony for their new operations center to be built in Morton. The $75 million, 550,000 square foot facility – big enough to hold nine football fields – is the largest development in Morton since the Caterpillar logistics center was built decades ago. And they have room to grow! My thanks to the Village of Morton and the Morton EDC for working so hard to make this project happen. It isn’t just a victory for them, but a victory for the entire region.
Pearl Technology Showcase: GP Manufacturing Network member Pearl Technology is hosting a free technology showcase on September 12 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. The event will showcase the latest in audiovisual technology (conferencing, video walls, digital signage, audio, video displays, collaboration, and more). Pearl Technology will also have an exhibit, highlighting cybersecurity, data centers, IT solutions, and Audiovisual solutions. The business conference and exhibits run from 11 am to 5 pm followed by a family fun night in the Museum from 5 pm to 9 pm. More information here.
Too much good stuff this week, so July unemployment numbers will be in next week’s update.
Have a great weekend.