I’m going on vacation all of next week, so you are getting a longer Weekend Update this week in exchange for not getting one next week.
More New Faces: Last week, I introduced you to Sara Kupperschmid, our new Workforce Solutions Partner. This week, we were joined by two more team members. (We are making everyone wear name tags.) First up is Courtney Moore. Courtney is our Talent Attraction Coordinator. This is a new position for GPEDC and the region. In partnership with the Gilmore Foundation and Greater Peoria Leadership Council, Courtney will be working directly with individuals who express interest in moving to our region through the Choose Greater Peoria initiative. Courtney has long called Greater Peoria her home and has deep roots as an accomplished entrepreneur, civic champion, and professional with local municipalities. Her commitment to the region through community engagement is evident through her active involvement in multiple organizations.
Our other new addition is Dorsey Hill. Dorsey comes to Peoria through the Economic Recovery Corps fellowship, a program funded by our friends at the US Economic Development Administration and coordinated by the International Economic Development Council. She will work in partnership with GPEDC and Lincoln Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) on a business outreach program targeting businesses in our rural communities for the next two and a half years. Dorsey is also our most recent transplant, moving to downtown Peoria from Chicago. Dorsey’s professional experience spans sectors within the nonprofit, legal, and healthcare tech space, where she worked in fundraising, project management, and recruiting. She recently earned an MSc with distinction in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Working as an Economic Recovery Corps Fellow, she hopes to utilize her varied skill set to support businesses throughout the wider Peoria region and drive interregional success. More on the ERC Fellowship program here.
Peoria Rural Enterprise Zone: Good things come to those who wait! After a three-month review period, we received word in late January that the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development approved our request to expand the Peoria Rural Enterprise Zone. The municipalities of the City of Chillicothe, the Village of Princeville, the City of Elmwood, the Village of Hanna City, and Peoria County agreed to amend the boundaries by adding 12 parcels totaling about 42 acres that have development or redevelopment potential (one parcel in Hanna City and 11 in Peoria County along Kickapoo-Edwards Blacktop). In addition to the expansion, the approved amendment cleaned up a previous minor discrepancy and allowed Brimfield School District #309 to be a participating taxing body in waiving their property tax on real property improvements for up to five years. Congratulations to Sally for all her hard work putting the application together.
PaCE Conference: The Workforce Solutions (Jeffrey and Sara) team visited Oakton Community College in Des Plaines to attend an extensive full-day training on implementing Illinois’ “Postsecondary and Career Expectations” (PaCE) Framework presented by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. With the Workforce Solutions team supporting the region’s schools in implementing and meeting PaCE requirements through programs like CareerSpark, the Emerging Workforce Alliance pillar of the Regional Workforce Alliance, job fairs, and apprenticeships, they wanted to understand the challenges and best practices from an educators’ standpoint so that they could be better partners for our region. The emphasis of the training was on building consensus and involving community partners – and they were able to share our best practices and experiences and learn how to engage the region’s educators in more ways to help with the lift of meeting the framework requirements.
Calling All Entrepreneurs: The Distillery Labs gBETA business accelerator is now accepting applicants for its Spring 2024 cohort. This free 7-week program helps founders refine their ideas and prepare themselves to pitch to potential investors. The program will accept six startups into this cohort. Danielle Scarzello, the local gBETA coordinator, holds “office hours” for entrepreneurs to get more information. They can schedule those meetings through this link. The deadline to apply is March 11. Applications can be found here.
January Strategy Reports: The first full week of the month means I made everyone write down all the cool stuff they did to make our region better in the month before. You can read about it all here.
The Next New Face? Just a reminder that we still have one position open – Business Engagement Partner. This team member will work closely with Sally to execute our redoubled strategy to engage and assist our local businesses. Qualified candidates will be highly organized, highly motivated individuals with demonstrated success in building and managing relationships, managing projects and timelines, and will be familiar with the principles of business and economic development. More information here.
Like I said at the top, I’ll be off all next week and doing my best not to think about work. I hope you have a great weekend and week.