Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Broadband Planning: We have known this for quite some time but were told we needed to wait to announce it until the press release was finished. That still hasn’t happened, so let’s keep this our secret. Thanks to the hard work of Kathie and Grace, Peoria and Woodford counties have been selected to be in the next cohort of the Accelerate Illinois broadband planning effort. Much like the Tazewell County effort that is currently underway, Kathie and Grace will work with stakeholder groups in both counties to better understand the unique needs, obstacles and interests of rural communities. The goal is to get a plan together to take advantage of the considerable federal and state funding for broadband infrastructure that is available now and in the near future. I’m sure there will be an official press release in the next few days, but since it’s been four months or so, I think I’m safe in telling this group. Just don’t tell the press you heard it from me.
E4Life: I was bummed to miss this, but David was able to join the celebration at Manual High School on Wednesday when five seniors signed “letters of intent” to join Caterpillar for jobs after graduation. We had noticed some social media posts from Peoria Public Schools and Woodruff Career and Technical Center last week on similar “signing ceremonies” and a friend at Caterpillar let us know about this week’s event. Caterpillar’s “E4Life” program has been at work for the past few years giving Manual students paid on-the-job experiences and life skills during their senior year. It is a really amazing program that is transforming lives, but also giving Caterpillar a great workforce. And I absolutely love that we are celebrating these achievements in such a public way. As the father of an athlete (who isn’t playing at the next level), I got to see many of my daughter’s former teammates sign with colleges. Wonderful to see the same value placed on learning a trade and going to work for a “Division 1” employer like Caterpillar.
Top Employers: You might have seen earlier this week that the Peoria Journal Star did an article on the top employers in the Peoria area. They drew their figures from our DataHub, which (among lots of other things) has a list of our major employers. And can I tell you that I always cringe when that data set is used. I always notice a company missing or that is probably higher or lower than is listed. The list is important for business attraction purposes as it shares with the world what other companies choose to call Greater Peoria home. But maintaining a somewhat accurate list of employment numbers by company is always a chore. First, it is a dynamic situation: on any given day the number might be different, especially for larger employers like Caterpillar or OSF. Sometimes they don’t even have an exact number! Second, the data sources we pull from are pretty unreliable. When we don’t get a voluntary report we rely on D&B Hoovers, which is spotty but all we really have. So I need your help! Please be on the lookout for an email from me next week asking you for an updated number. I don’t need it to be exact, but close (I don’t need 396 or 412 – 400 will suffice). I won’t bother our smaller employers, but if you are a “big guy” we could use the help. You can also reply to this email and save yourself some time!
Economic Development Week: I know that in addition to Mother’s Day, you all found a way to celebrate Economic Development Week this past week (not just a day, but a whole week!) David did a great job on our social media channels of highlighting the work we do, including nice profiles of each of our staff. I hope you saw some of those posts. But we don’t get to do what we do without the support of our investors. So Economic Development Week is for you, too. Thank you for supporting Greater Peoria EDC. We believe we are making a difference in our region but only because of your investment.
Have a great weekend.