January 13, 2023

GPEDC Weekend Update- January 13, 2023

Here are some GPEDC updates to end your week:

Brazil, DigiFarmz, and Greater Peoria: This is a story about how Greater Peoria EDC represents the region on an international stage, leverages expertise across disciplines, and can quickly pull together the right people and resources. Through a relationship with the Brazilian consulate in Chicago developed by Andrew (Director of Startups and Innovation), Greater Peoria EDC was invited to make a presentation about our region to “StartOut Brazil,” a weeklong seminar in Chicago for fifteen Brazilian startups looking to break into the American market. I was able to travel to Chicago to make a 20 minute pitch on what Peoria had to offer. Later that week, four of the startups peeled off from their Chicago itinerary to visit Peoria. The following week a fifth company visited. Lenora (Director of Business Attraction) and I gave tours of the community, arranged meetings with local officials, toured the AgLab, and organized meetings with representatives from Distillery Labs, the Farm Bureau, Morton EDC, OSF and Bradley. We drew on the experiences and connections of Sally (Director of Business Assistance) and Mark (Manufacturing Network).

Well, this week one of our visitors from last week returned to Peoria with his wife and son in tow. Alexandre from DigiFarmz (an AgTech software platform) has rented an AirBnB in East Peoria for the next 3 weeks and will be exploring Peoria, making local connections, and meeting with potential clients and partners both here and across the Midwest. He noted the region’s affordability and the friendly and helpful reception he’s received. It is his plan to use this time to solidify his plans to move here and establish his North American office in Greater Peoria. We will be working with him over the next three weeks to make as many connections as possible for him. If successful, this would be the second Brazilian company to take root here – Manusis 4.0 established an office in Peoria last winter. The GPEDC team is working to expand this thread of opportunity with other Brazilian companies. We work hard to develop relationships. Sometimes they result in a big project like the Amazon fulfillment center, and sometimes it’s a one man advance force for a foreign company. Both are important.

Annual Meeting: We had a great turnout at our 2023 Annual Meeting this past Tuesday morning. Well over 80 people joined us in person or via Zoom to hear about our 2022 accomplishments and our plans for 2023. Special thanks to Sudheer Sajja of Pringle Robotics for opening the meeting with a presentation about the exciting present and future of his company, and their plans to grow here in Greater Peoria. We had to cut the questions off so we could get on with the rest of the meeting! If you missed the meeting, there are a few ways you can get the information. We prepared a summary of the staff reports, or you can see the slides that made up their presentations. All of the discussion stemmed from the more comprehensive strategy reports which detail all the great work done in 2022.

ED Legislation: Last week I mentioned I was paying attention to Illinois’ “lame duck session” because some important economic development legislation was in play. The bill I was watching – House Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 2951 – passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor’s signature, which is not in doubt (it is his bill). While the $400 million “closing fund” got the lionshare of the media attention, the bill makes improvements to the state’s core economic development incentive, a program called Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit. The bill makes EDGE – which was notoriously difficult, limited and sometimes a disincentive to grow in Illinois – much more applicable and useful as an incentive. That is good news. The bill also allows Enterprise Zones to be bigger: 15 sq miles instead of the current 12 sq miles. More good news.

Have a great weekend.