July 28, 2023

GPEDC Weekend Update- July 28, 2023

Some GPEDC updates to end your week:

New Distillery Labs ED: This is some of the most exciting news I’ve had a chance to share in a while. Earlier this week, we announced that Doug Cruitt has been named the new Executive Director of Distillery Labs. Doug emerged from a pile of 40+ resumes, ten semifinalists who were interviewed by a nine-person community panel, and three finalists that were interviewed by the Board of Directors. He’s a really incredible person with a great background and is the perfect fit for taking Distillery Labs into the next stage (opening!) This also signals the end of my run as the interim Executive Director, which I guess ends today (or, I guess, Sunday if something breaks at the currently vacant building over the weekend!). While certainly difficult, serving in this capacity has also been an honor. In many ways, Distillery Labs was started by GPEDC when Jennifer Daly (my predecessor) convened a group of stakeholders to envision the “Catalyst” program. And it is an incredibly important economic initiative for the region. So it was fitting for GPEDC to step into this role to keep things moving forward. My thanks to the GPEDC Board of Directors for letting me do double duty. But I’d be lying if I told you I was going to miss it…

Want to Meet Doug? You can meet Doug in person if you join us for our “Hammer Swinging” ceremony to signal the start of construction at Distillery Labs. Doug gets the honor of being the MC of the event, and I know he will be excited to start making connections. The event is Thursday, August 17, at 10 am at Distillery Labs (201 SW Adams). You’d be doing us a big favor if you RSVP’d for the event so we know how many are coming.

Workforce Sustainability Center Opens: Like Distillery Labs, good things come to those that wait. On Wednesday, over 150 people gathered in East Peoria to celebrate the completion and opening of the Workforce Sustainability Center (WSC) at Illinois Central College. The WSC will allow ICC to expand its offerings in a variety of trades, maybe most impressively HVAC installation and repair (they built a really great lab with what seems like every kind of air conditioner known to humankind). The WSC was funded in part with a $3 million grant from the US Economic Development Administration. Dr. Quirk-Bailey gave a shout out to GPEDC for its work to connect ICC with EDA and its contributions to the grant. Emily Rhodes of EDA joined the celebration on Wednesday to offer some words of praise for the project (Emily is pictured below). I looked back at my records; the grant was submitted on March 4, 2019. That grant application said the project would start construction in November 2019 and be complete by December 2020. Ha! It never works that way, I guess. So nearly four and a half years later, a victim of COVID, supply chain, inflation, etc. (sound familiar?), we have a real gem in an already impressive crown of workforce development programming.

Peoria NEXT + IMEC: Team GPEDC needs to split up on Wednesday. While Kathie and I were at ICC, David, Dick, and Sally were at Peoria NEXT to help celebrate a great new partnership between two of our best partners. The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) and the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center are collaborating to propel the growth of manufacturing start-ups within Peoria. This collaboration will encompass a support and outreach program that addresses the unique needs of these burgeoning businesses. Under the partnership, four qualifying start-ups will benefit from IMEC covering the first quarter of a year-long lease at Peoria NEXT.  This initiative enables a potential savings of up to $4,800, providing these enterprises a financial breather to direct funds towards vital operational expenses. It’s unique collaborations like these that solidify our economic foundations even further. Media coverage here.

June Employment Numbers Sneak Peek: June employment and job numbers came out late yesterday. I’ll have a bit more in next week’s Weekend Update, but you can get a sneak peek by looking at the charts on our DataHub.

Have a great weekend. Stay cool!