Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed your end-of-the-year holidays. Sadly, I can’t say that I did. After successfully dodging COVID for 18+ months, I succumbed to it on Christmas Eve! Luckily a relatively mild case, but not a great way to spend the holidays. Thank God for streaming television platforms!
Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
November Unemployment Report: Right before Christmas, IDES released local unemployment numbers for November 2021. And the news seemed pretty good! (Although I am always cautious with month-to-month fluctuations.) We saw a nice increase of 2,200 in the labor force across the region and an even better increase of 2,400 in people reporting themselves as employed (and about 150 less “unemployed persons”). That dropped the regional unemployment rate from 4.6% to 4.5%, equal to Illinois’ rate but still higher than the 3.9% national average.
Accelerate Illinois: My thanks to Kathie and Grace on our staff for writing and submitting two applications to the Accelerate Illinois program before the end of the year. Accelerate Illinois is a DCEO program that will help conduct planning around broadband expansion across the state. GPEDC was awarded a collaboration opportunity in 2021 for Tazewell county and has applied for similar opportunities for both Peoria and Woodford counties. If successful, planning activities would start in February and help position these counties to take advantage of coming state and federal funding to address gaps in the system. We hope to know the results in the next few weeks.
Startup Interns: In 2021, Andrew worked with three global innovation management interns via The Washington Center. The three students came from very diverse backgrounds: One each from universities in Pennsylvania, Honduras and the St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands). The students worked on a variety of self-directed projects that helped the GPEDC build out a new video series on exploring entrepreneurial opportunities from the lens of a tourist, a short startup lesson on why there are never really any dead ends in business and life, and also helped us to better understand the arts and creative community better. You can listen to the feedback the students shared here.
gBeta Pitch Night: It was great to see the (COVID-reduced) crowd gathered at the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts last night (and know there were many more watching on-line) to hear the pitches of the first cohort of gBeta Distillery Labs. If you weren’t aware, gBeta is a national startup accelerator that has established a program here in Greater Peoria under Distillery Labs. Thanks to a host of sponsors, including GPEDC partners Peoria County, OSF Healthcare and Hanson Professional Services, a total of ten companies will be able to go through this highly successful program each year. The first cohort of five companies all did a great job with their pitches, and we are excited to see what happens with each of them next. You can learn more about the first five here and more about gBeta Distillery Labs here. Recruiting for the next cohort of startups commences soon.
Peoria County Hazard Survey: The Peoria City County Health Department is undergoing its periodic Threat & Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) process to help identify anticipated and unanticipated risks. The first step in this process is conducting a “hazard vulnerability analysis” (HVA), a tool that will help in identifying the highest vulnerabilities to natural and man-made hazards and the direct/indirect effect these hazards may have. An HVA provides the community with a basis for determining the most likely standards and potential demands on emergency services and other resources that could occur during a crisis so that effective preventive measures can be taken and a coordinated disaster response plan can be developed. The input of local private sector partners is vital in determining a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. Please consider participating in the HVA survey (or asking someone in your organization to do so). You can find the survey here.
Have a great weekend!