February 10, 2023

GPEDC Weekend Update- February 10, 2023

Here are some GPEDC updates to end your week:

Bank Tank Winner!: Last week, I mentioned that three-out-of-four finalists for Fortress Bank’s “Bank Tank” startup pitch competition were from Greater Peoria, and all were graduates of Distillery Labs’ gBeta accelerator. I am happy to announce that ColorForge, a startup using 3D printing technology to produce custom cosmetics, was the big winner. Peorians John and Caroline LaHood took home $10,000 that will help them advance their company. Our other startup competitors, We Hear You and Bear’s Bites, were awarded $2,000 each. We are very proud of the winners, but even more proud of the pipeline of startups we are building here in Greater Peoria.

Group of people standing in front of a screen holding a big check for a grant award

gBeta Recruiting: Speaking of gBeta, we are now accepting applications for the Spring 2023 cohort. We will select five startups from Greater Peoria to go through a free, 7 week business accelerator. The participants in this cohort will join the Winter 2022 cohort in a “pitch night” in early summer. The Spring cohort runs from April 13 to June 2. The deadline to apply is March 27. Please share within your networks. More information here

Amazon Ribbon Cutting: GPEDC staff were on hand with a great crowd to help celebrate the opening of the new Amazon fulfillment center in North Pekin yesterday. Sort of a rainy day, but no one is sad when a multi-million dollar investment with 200+ jobs comes on line! GPEDC was part of the team that worked with Amazon in the early stages of their search and helped particularly with an interface with the Illinois Department of Transportation on a critical infrastructure issue. 

Group of people standing in front of balloons at a ribbon cutting ceremony at an Amazon fulfillment facility

Brazilians, Germans and Japanese: I had the chance to visit Chicago over the past two days and was able to hit three continents in one trip. First, I met with staff from IDL Ventures, an organization that helps startups from emerging economies like Brazil find investors, customers and a home in the United States. We’ve been building a partnership with IDL that we believe will continue to pay dividends for our region. Later that night I attended an event hosted by the German American Chamber of Commerce to unveil the results of their 2023 German American Business Outlook (see more below). Thursday morning I met up with Ralph Inforzato of the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO) Midwest. Ralph has been a long time cheerleader for Japanese investment in Greater Peoria: Komatsu, Fuso Chemical (PMP Fermentation) and Yamashin Filter. We discussed how to expand that investment, particularly in light of Japanese proficiency in both electric vehicle and semiconductor supply chain. In between those visits I had a chance to catch up with our partners at the US Economic Development Administration and Illinois DCEO’s Office of Trade and Investment.

GABO Results: The German American Business Outlook (GABO) was pretty enlightening, and also pretty encouraging. A total of 201 businesses responded to the survey. Despite perceived economic headwinds and possible recession, 93% plan on growing their investments in the next 3 years and 22% plan to invest over $10 million. That’s a nice number to hear. The top three reasons for investing in US facilities were the overall size of the American market, proximity to customers (particularly because of supply chain challenges), and market stability. You can get more insights by downloading the report here. Though not shown in the national report, the Chicago presentation showed that German firms in the Midwest were the most confident in their outlook and their plans for investment.

Strategy Reports: You are missing out if you don’t take a peek at the staff strategy reports for January. They all do such great work in their individual areas. You can read them here.

Have a great weekend.