Here are some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Nanox: We hosted another Brazilian company last week. In partnership with our friends from IDL Ventures, Gustavo Simoes of Nanox, a biotech company that has created an antimicrobial additive for packaging, textiles and building materials. Gustavo had been in Chicago for a few weeks but came down for a day to explore Peoria as a potential location to open his first North American office. This was actually Gustavo’s second trip to Peoria; he visited late last year when he was in the US for the StartOut Brasil accelerator. This time we introduced him to two potential customers in ISI Building Materials and Natural Fiber Welding, took a tour of the USDA Agricultural Laboratory, and met with Dr. Marcos Hashimoto of Bradley’s Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (who also happens to be Brazilian immigrant). We are hoping for a return visit and continued conversation this summer.
Big Table Report: The Big Table partners gathered at the Peoria Riverfront Museum to discuss observations, feedback and findings from the Big Table event last fall. The audience listened to brief summaries of the four topic areas: Diversity and Inclusion; Workforce and Education; Entrepreneurship; and Quality of Place. You can read the final report (created in large part by GPEDC’s David Jackson) here. We also had great media coverage of the event, including this story by WCBU.
USDA Grants: Rural Outreach and Development Director Kathie Brown worked with the cities of Havana and Pekin in their pursuit of funding through USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program. In Havana, Spoon River College partnered with the city and the Illinois River Biological Station in seeking business enterprise assistance to conduct a feasibility study for the creation of a Illinois River Visitor Center and Biological Research Facility. The facility would include a welcome center, educational programming, laboratory space, and research facilities. In Pekin, Kathie helped the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce apply for an RDBG to support their “Launch Pekin” program. This project would create a Small Business Passport Program to increase the skills, knowledge, and access to capital needed to sustain and grow our rural small business economy. Applications were submitted on February 28 and we should know the outcome by early summer.
UnityPoint Child Care Grant: Congratulations to UnityPoint Health on being awarded an Early Childhood Center Construction Grant by the State of Illinois. The award of just over $9 million, matched locally by UnityPoint Health, will allow them to construct a new child care center on West Main Street in Peoria. The new facility will replace the current facility in the mostly vacant Methodist College building downtown, facilitating the conversion of that building into permanent supportive housing by Phoenix Community Development Services. This is an awesome win-win for UnityPoint and the region. More details forthcoming, but you can learn more about the grant award here. GPEDC was happy to play a small role in this grant by helping identify the grant early on and connecting UnityPoint with the opportunity.
Makers Madness: Two more days to vote in the first round of IMA’s Makers Madness. Voting will take place at www.makersmadnessil.com through 11:59 PM on March 5. Voters can cast up to five votes per day in this round as the field of products is narrowed.
Have a great weekend.