January 19, 2024

GPEDC Weekend Update- January 19, 2024

BRECC Action Challenge: GPEDC got some good news this week. We were notified that our application had been selected for the “BRECC Action Challenge.” BRECC stands for “Building Resilient Economies in Communities” and is a National Association of Counties program. We applied on behalf of Mason, Tazewell, and Peoria counties, each of which has either had a coal power plant close (Mason in 2019, Peoria in 2022) or will have one close (Tazewell by 2028). As part of the cohort, our team will receive 12 months of individualized expert consultation to develop a community-specific economic diversification plan. We will be provided one-on-one coaching support, attend a quarterly virtual learning series with subject matter experts, network with other selected coal community teams, and participate in an in-person capstone event. Economic diversification is at the core of our work as a planning organization, and it is great to get high-level professional guidance to improve our region. Hat tip to Kathie for her strong work on the application and for being a resource for our communities.

Inflation Reduction Act: Speaking of high-level professional help, I attended a two-day session in Milwaukee this week to learn how the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will impact the work of economic developers. Hosted by RMI, a leading think tank and advocate around energy policy, the boot camp was a deep dive into a truly incredible and broad piece of legislation. Regardless of your personal opinions about the IRA, it is now in full swing and can have some real advantages to our region. The legislation creates a whole series of tax credits in areas such as incentivizing residential, commercial, and industrial energy efficiency projects, accelerating the adoption of renewable energy (like installing solar panels), reclaiming brownfields, and spurring “cleantech” production (components for solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, etc.). I will be honest: My head is swimming with information, and I’m still trying to distill the most helpful information for local applications here. You can find an excellent summary produced by RMI here. If you want to learn more, please reach out to me. I would love to dive deeper into a particular part of the legislation and see if it can help you. (I also swear I’m in the picture of all of us at this gathering – you just need to find me Where’s Waldo style.)

New Investor: Ironically enough, there is a nice connection between renewable energy and this next bit of information. We are excited to have RWE Clean Energy as the newest investor in the Greater Peoria EDC. RWE is a renewable energy development and operating company with more than 1,500 employees in the US, including an Illinois team based in Chicago. They are owned by a publicly traded German parent company that has been in business for over 125 years. RWE currently operates three wind farms in Illinois and has four late-stage solar developments in the state that, when completed, will have a combined capacity of more than 700 MW.

GPEDC Still Hiring: We aren’t closing the job search yet, but are going to start reviewing resumes for our open Research & Insights Manager position next week. This critical position will help fuel all of our work but will be particularly helpful in gathering and sharing data that supports our business attraction efforts. We are looking for someone curious, diligent, well-organized, and collaborative. The full job announcement can be found here. Please share with anyone you feel might be interested.