January 26, 2024

GPEDC Weekend Update- January 26, 2024

A few Greater Peoria EDC updates to end your week:

Happy Birthday, Pekin! I remember John Morris of Peoria Riverfront Museum fame once saying that people have been choosing the Greater Peoria region for as long as people have been settling into one place. Whether it was Native American tribes, French explorers, entrepreneurs, immigrants, or members of the Great Migration, our region has been the place to be for centuries. Well, two centuries ago, enough of those people banded together to create the City of Pekin, which celebrates its 200th birthday in 2024. The Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce held a kickoff celebration last Friday with Mayor (and GPEDC board member) Mary Burress giving her first state of the city address. Look for lots of fun events throughout the year. You can even buy a bottle of Dragon Dust, a custom spice mix made by Pekin’s very own Excalibur Seasonings and available at Maddie Mae’s (522 Court, Pekin).

Mason County Broadband Survey: Greater Peoria EDC is helping Mason County improve broadband infrastructure, starting with a county-wide survey to assess residents’ internet needs. This project, a collaboration between the Mason County Board, Greater Peoria EDC, Just Transition Fund and supported by the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), aims to develop informed broadband plans. With expertise from Finley Engineering and CCG Consulting, the focus is on network funding and operations. The goal is to create a broadband strategic plan driven by community input, targeting various development sectors. Survey results will identify key areas for expansion, fostering dialogue among community leaders and ISPs, and leveraging state and federal funds. Citizens in Mason County are encouraged to contribute by participating in the survey, available in residential and business versions.

Havana in the News: A few weeks ago I mentioned in this space about the Spark! Places of Innovation exhibit in Havana, co-hosted by the Smithsonian and the Havana Chamber of Commerce. Well I wasn’t the only one that noticed. Local public radio station WCBU ran a really great story on Havana and its efforts to invest in its downtown. You can read (or listen to) that story here. Illinois Humanities also published a really nice article on Havana’s reinvention and investment in Possibility and Purpose in Havana. You can check out Havana year-round, but if you want to see the Smithsonian exhibit, you only have through February 17.

Coal and Career Opportunities: Thanks to Kathie and Sally, Curt Oldfield of Spoon River College was asked to present on a national webinar hosted by the National Association of Counties’ Community of Practice, which focuses on coal and energy community economic development. The need for coal communities – which include communities in Mason, Peoria, Tazewell, and Fulton counties – to be ready for workforce diversification. Regions reliant on coal and fossil fuels are exposed to the triple threat of pollution, health concerns, and job loss. Dr. Oldfield described his community’s Rapid Response approach to re-employing people fast after the unanticipated plant closings in Havana and Canton. You can watch a recording of the webinar here.

Have a great weekend.