March 22, 2024

GPEDC Weekend Update- March 22, 2024

Here are some updates to end your week. 

AgTech Connect: During our quarterly AgTech Connect event, we celebrated the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR, or more often called the “Ag Lab”) with its Director, Todd Ward. NCAUR is one of the nation’s largest research centers and employs more than 200 scientists. This center plays a critical role in agriculture production and new product development.  On Tuesday, we were introduced to four new research initiatives that have proven their market value and are ready for commercialization. We also heard from Brad Stotler, Director of Public Policy with the Illinois Corn Growers Association who discussed the importance of carbon reduction to emerging ethanol markets. Jennifer Aurandt-Pilgrim, Director of Innovation & Market Development Marquis Energy shared her work in helping to ensure that Marquis maintains their position as the technology leader in the biofuels market.  Her management method of “Now, Near, Next” helps to mitigate risks and advances decarbonization from idea to implementation and, ultimately, commercialization. At the event, outgoing Morton EDC director Leigh Ann Brown was recognized for her great leadership in our region, including in helping organize AgTech Connect. 

Louisville: Thanks to a sponsorship from our friends at Wabash Valley Power Alliance, I was able to attend Area Development’s annual Consultants Forum in Louisville this week. This was one of my first site selector conferences and it did not disappoint. The conference was attended by about two dozen consultants who shared information on megasite demand, the future of electric vehicle production, workforce trends, data centers, and other relevant topics. I was able to connect with a number of consultants, maintaining the relationships that Lenora had done such a great job cultivating. I’ll be heading to a dueling conference hosted by the Site Selectors Guild in just a few weeks.

Port District Survey: GPEDC is an active partner supporting the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District and Havana Port District, both of which are part of the Illinois Waterway Ports Commission and included in the broader Corn Belt Ports region. Western Illinois University (WIU) researchers, in partnership with Corn Belt Ports, are seeking input regarding if and how stakeholders along the regional port cooperate to improve coordination along the regional supply chain to increase investment and economic development. This project is about understanding the competitiveness of rural, regional, and inland ports as “business clusters” and perceptions of the importance of advanced technology for operational efficiency and competitiveness.  The results of our study will inform a $160 Million federal grant proposal. The survey, which only takes about 10 minutes to complete, can be taken here.

Battle of the Greater Peoria Giants! The first round of IMA’s Makers Madness, the competition to crown the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois, ended on Sunday and whittled down a field of over 200 products to just a Sweet Sixteen of cool things. And two of them are made right here in our region: Komatsu’s Mining Truck and Caterpillar’s D11 Dozer. In this round, voters are asked to vote for one product in each of eight matchups. Luckily, Komatsu and Caterpillar aren’t in the same matchup, so you don’t have to pick between them…yet.  You can vote one time per day (and per device) through Sunday, March 24. May the best machine win!

Economic Development Forum: Tickets are on sale now for our first ever Economic Development Forum, featuring Jay Garner, author of Economic Development is STILL Not for Amateurs. Thanks to a generous sponsorship by Ameren Illinois, every attendee will walk away with a copy of Jay’s book. The event is on April 24 from 8 am – 10:30 am at the Gateway Building. Tickets are just $25 for non-investors. Click here for more information, or drop me a note.

Have a great weekend.