Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Here are a few updates to end your week:
Economix: Thanks to a sponsorship by our partners at Wabash Valley Power Alliance (Cornbelt Energy), I was able to attend this year’s Economix conference in Atlanta. Organized by Consultant Connect, an organization that helps bridge the gap between site selection consultants and economic development professionals, the two-day conference is a great way to meet and network with over 30 consultants. Day One was essentially a “speed dating” event where we met individually with consultants for short periods. Day Two was rich in content and included topics such as preparing for the electric vehicle supply chain, how AI is transforming economic development, and best practices on talent attraction. This was my second Economix in a row, and it was a nice way to keep Greater Peoria in front of people helping companies make location decisions.
CareerSpark Videos: Though our in-person CareerSpark event for 8th-grade students is in the rearview mirror, the fun never really stops. This week, our partners at Junior Achievement unveiled our 2023 recap video, which showcases the great impact that CareerSpark has. You can watch the video here. And we are rolling on to our next career pathways event: Starting early in 2024, CareerSpark You’re Hired! Is back. You’re Hired is a digital job fair for high school students. The platform exposes students to near-term employment opportunities, internships, and apprenticeships. If your company is interested in showcasing your opportunities, reach out to Jeffrey at email@example.com. Check out the promotional video here.
Back to Business NewBiz: Illinois DCEO started accepting applications for its new business relief program on November 30. The Back-to-Business (B2B) NewBiz program is designed to help businesses that opened in 2020 and 2021 – during the height of the COVID pandemic. Businesses in prioritized categories like restaurants, entertainment, retail, and personal services can qualify for a grant of up to $30,000. GPEDC is managing a network of eleven local organizations poised to provide individual technical assistance to businesses seeking these grants. We will also be launching an area-wide media campaign, including local ads on TV and radio. You can learn more about the program here.
Corn Belt Ports Ribbon Cutting: Congratulations to the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District on yesterday’s successful ribbon-cutting ceremony for their new offices in downtown Peoria that will also house the Illinois Waterway Ports and Corn Belt Ports offices. This significant event marks a new chapter in the region’s economic development, underscoring the pivotal role of the Illinois Waterway and Mississippi in enhancing our transportation network. The inauguration of the new office symbolizes the collaborative efforts and dedication of various districts and agencies and unanimous bi-partisan support from the legislature, showcasing the impact of federal and state investments in our area. The ceremony highlighted the commission’s future initiatives and plans for increasing freight tonnage and strategic port development. Mayors Rita Ali and John Kahl, State Senators Dave Koehler, State Representative Travis Weaver, and over 50 stakeholders were in attendance. This milestone event is a testament to our collective commitment to advancing our broader region’s economic and infrastructural prosperity.
October Numbers: The October local employment and job numbers arrived earlier this week, slightly delayed by the Thanksgiving holiday. The numbers on the employment side were a bit disappointing. We saw a drop of about 2500 in the labor force but only 1500 less “employed” persons. Interestingly, we also saw a drop in “unemployed” persons of about 1000. Strange. All of this combined to drop our regional unemployment rate to 4.9%. On the job front, we actually saw an increase of 600 jobs in the Peoria MSA between September and October. All the details here.
Have a great weekend.