March 08, 2024

GPEDC Weekend Update- March 8, 2024

Here are some updates to end your week.

Autonomous Mobility: It was a busy week for our Rural division. On Monday, Kathie, Dorsey (our Economic Recovery Corp Fellow), and Distillery Labs’ Doug Cruitt visited the Illinois Center for Transportation in Rantoul. During their visit, they had the opportunity to meet with the research center director Imad L. Al-Qadi (Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering) and Erwin Kohler (Assistant Director for Research University of  Illinois Grainger College of Engineering). Their work at the historical Chanute Air Force Base, repurposing this former military base into the Illinois Autonomous and Connected Track (I-CAT). I-CAT will be a platform investment that covers all the basis of upcoming transportation needs related to smart and 3D mobility, alongside economic and workforce development.  I-ACT will feature smart freight and vehicle loops, a connected village and agricultural lands.  There are tremendous opportunities for collaboration between I-ACT and the Central Illinois Living Lab (CILL), a flagship initiative of Distillery Labs.

AgTech Summit: Next, Kathie and Dorsey joined a significant Greater Peoria contingent to attend the 9th annual AgTech Summit University of Illinois Research Park. The event brings together hundreds of ag industry leaders, startups, growers, researchers, and economic development partners. The state of Illinois is a leader in agribusiness and food manufacturing, and Intersect Illinois CEO Dan Seals shared why our talent, transportation, research, and industry make us a top location for AgTech businesses. 

Coal Transition Presentation: And if that wasn’t enough, Kathie was also invited to present on a panel discussion regarding the biggest challenges to regional planning and provided her insights on the value of the Getting Started Guide. This step-by-step guide is intended to help communities and workers start the process of planning or responding to economic and social changes resulting from the energy transition or any major economic shift. The program was attended by more than 200 community leaders throughout the United States as part of the Interagency Working Group on Coal & Power Plant Communities & Economic Revitalization.  

Workforce Trip: Kathie wasn’t the only GPEDC staffer on the road. Late last week, Jeffrey had the privilege of attending the Illinois Education and Career Success Network’s 11th annual conference, themed Awareness to Action: Promoting Equity in Education and Careers, in the Chicago suburbs. There were several concurrent sessions to learn from leadership communities in Illinois on what they are doing to help students achieve postsecondary success; Jeffrey’s favorite was learning how Rockford schools have taken GPEAK (born right here in Greater Peoria) and how they are utilizing the framework to enhance their internships and pre-apprenticeships along with a credentialing tool to make their accomplishments visible to employers to help build a strong foundation to a rewarding career. Jeffrey also learned from leaders in Evanston and Moline about how the schools can work with the city and economic development groups to bolster the employers available for high school students for work-based learning opportunities. 

Vote Greater Peoria: Voting is now open in the first round of Makers Madness, the competition to crown the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois. Coordinated by the Illinois Manufacturers Association and sponsored by Comcast, the contest will whittle down a field of over 200 products into one winner. In this round, you can vote for up to five entries per day (per device). Greater Peoria is well represented in this initial round with an even dozen products ranging from food to machinery. Here is the list so it’s easier for you to find our local products:

  • Jtec (East Peoria) – CarryMatic Autonomous Material Handling System
  • Simformation (Peoria) – Cat Simulators
  • Caterpillar (East Peoria) – D11 Dozer
  • Morton Industries (Morton) – Fabricated Tubes
  • Cresco Labs (Lincoln) – Glazed Clementine Orange Gummies
  • Sandridge Crafted Foods (Morton) – Grilled Italian Herb Chicken Breast
  • Komatsu (Peoria) – 980E-4 Mining Truck
  • Natural Fiber Welding (Peoria) – Mirum
  • Phillipi-Hagenbuch (Peoria County) – PHIL’s Autogate Tailgate
  • Liberty Steel (Bartonville) – Red Brand fencing
  • Top Fox Snacks (Congerville) – Sunflower Snacking Seeds
  • Walz Scale (East Peoria) – Walz Volumetric Mining Scanner

AgTech Connect: Join us at Greater Peoria’s AgTech Connect on March 19th and be part of shaping the future of agriculture. With speakers from various sectors sharing their expertise on biofuels, soil conservation, and policy development, you’ll be at the heart of AgTech advancement. Don’t miss out on this chance to influence and be influenced by the brightest minds in the field.  The meeting is being held at the AgLab from 10 am – 11:30 am. Register here to secure your seat. 

Have a great weekend.