Here are some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Distillery Labs Startup Showcase: Oh what a night. On Wednesday about 200 people gathered at the Peoria Riverfront Museum to celebrate ten Peoria-area startups who were making their first public pitch of their business. The evening started with networking in the PRM lobby and then folks made their way into the Giant Screen Theater to see each of the gBeta accelerator graduates share about their passion and plan. I was blown away by the professionalism, thoroughness, and clarity of their pitches. More than one person shared with me an observation that the group had amazing breadth. From an 18 year old recent high school graduate who developed the Drizzl sensor to prevent overwatering to a self-described data junkie who is using artificial intelligence to help people with memory loss to a farmer who is creating a platform that connects livestock owners with qualified individuals who can care for farm animals while owners are on vacation. And that’s just three of the ten! In my brief remarks, I talked about how important efforts like Distillery Labs and gBeta are for Greater Peoria. It isn’t just about accelerating these companies, it’s about accelerating our economy. And just like knowing about a band before they made it big, I guarantee you that within five years, someone in the audience last night will be able to say, “I saw that company’s first pitch and look at where they are now.” Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters.
Elmwood Community Center: Yesterday, Kathie and Sally attended an event where plans for the Elmwood Community Wellness Center & YMCA were unveiled. The $12 million, 33,000 square foot facility will employ up to 50 people. The Elmwood Community Foundation and Graham Health System Leadership searched for a property that was a convenient location for the targeted service area, including more than 18,000 people within a 20-minute drive. The first phase of the project was the construction of the Graham Medical Group Clinic, a $1.9 million investment that opened in March 2019. Currently, the clinic draws over 5,000 patients a year from 125 distinct zip codes. Having a Rural Wellness Center located adjacent to the existing Graham Clinic provides a unique and welcoming environment for everyone to conveniently access physical therapy, cardiac rehab and a complete offering of robust health care and wellness services in one location. Project funding has moved forward with a federal grant secured by Representative Darrin LaHood and former Representative Cheir Bustos.
May Jobs and Employment: We’ve updated our workforce numbers based on the newly released May 2023 local report. We saw a dip in the labor force (-1,255) and employed persons (-1,001) when comparing May to April 2023. Since the dip in labor force was greater than the dip in employed persons, the unemployment rate actually declined from 4.5% to 4.3%. Conversely, the Peoria MSA seems to have added 1,700 jobs in May with the biggest jump in “leisure and hospitality” (+700). Pretty charts here.
Smart Logistics: The Corn Belt Ports, which includes the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District, was included in a winning application for a National Science Foundation “Innovation Engines” development grant spearheaded by Governor’s State University (GSU). The $1 million grant will study innovation “smart logistics” and will include truck transportation, railroads, and importantly riverbourne commerce. Through a partnership with Western Illinois University (another party to the grant), Corn Belt Ports will receive a modest subgrant to help better understand Illinois’ river systems. An NSF development grant is the first step towards further and much larger funding to fuel innovation in this area. More information here.
CEJA Networking Fairs: Are you interested in applying for funding to deliver one of the CEJA workforce programs? Are you a clean energy employer looking to connect with the workforce programs to hire workers? Attend a Regional CEJA Workforce Networking Fair, hosted by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, to connect with people interested in growing the clean energy workforce. The Peoria event is July 25 from 1 – 3 pm at ICC. More information here.
Have a great weekend.