May 17, 2024

GPEDC Weekend Update- May 17, 2024

Here are some updates to end your week. 

Illinois Connected – The Broadband Expansion and Digital Equity Summit hosted by Illinois Broadband Lab and Nation Digital Inclusion Alliance provided a great opportunity for learning and creating connections with communities and Internet Service Providers.  Kathie represented our region, making connections with community leaders at Chicago Housing Authority, City of Aurora, Alton Forward, Champaign/Urbana, and many other organizations.  Valuable discussions were led by key leaders, including Brian Olson of i3 Broadband (and GPEDC board member). i3 has been an active partner in development of public/private partnerships with Alton Forward and UC2B in Champaign/Urbana. These open source models are especially relevant to work currently underway in Logan County as they deploy middle mile infrastructure throughout the county.  The conference focused on strategies for communities to consider as we prepare for BEAD funding in Illinois. 

Workforce Convening: Please join us on June 5 from 9 – 11 am at ICC’s North Campus (Peoria) for an important meeting regarding workforce development. Through a grant from Illinois DCEO, we were able to hire Newmark, a global economic development consulting firm, to conduct a comprehensive analysis of our regional workforce. Their team is coming to Peoria to share their findings and recommendations. The meeting will also allow us to share the great work of the Regional Workforce Alliance and how we will be using the Newmark recommendations to shape its future work. Be on the lookout for the official invitation next week to RSVP, or just drop me a note.

Resiliency Forum: Our newest employee hit the road a few weeks ago for her first conference. Kirsten Montgomery, our Research & Insights Manager, attended the first ever Economic Resiliency Forum at Argonne Laboratory in “upstate Illinois” (in the words of John Morris). The forum was organized by our partners with the US Economic Development Administration. Individuals from all over the country attended to participate in discussions about energy improvements, workforce development, green energy transition, workforce and community equity, rural and urban resilience strategies, and much more. Kirsten also got a chance to start building her own network, and was able to connect with a number of the EDA Chicago staff.

Elmwood Visit: Last week, Kathie and Amy Davis, Elmwood’s Economic Development Director, visited Elmwood High School and H & H lighting an anchor business in the community. In rural areas, it is often family companies that provide local incomes, generate local wealth, and connect communities to the larger economy. H & H Industries has been a staple for Elmwood in rural Peoria County for 60 years.  Three generations of family leadership has created significant economic impact locally and globally. The high school visit provided Kathie with the opportunity to see firsthand how Elmwood was helping to shape its future. Community leaders saw how incredibly important it was to create work-based learning opportunities to improve students’ short- and long-term success. In 2022, community leaders raised $250,000 to build onto their existing high school to expand career and industrial arts programs. With construction completed in 2023, they hired their first teacher offering classes in CAD Engineering & Design, Beginning Welding, Advanced Welding Technology II, and Metal Production 1. This investment, led by the community, addresses a critical local and regional need, as there is an urgent need to scale up these programs to meet the needs of employers into the future and to mitigate the trend of declining population.

Illinois Climate Bank: The Illinois Finance Authority is hosting a webinar on May 21 at 12 pm to share information about several grant, loan, and finance programs for renewable energy and climate resilience available from the Illinois Climate Bank. Register here.

Port Master Plan Meeting: The Heart of Illinois Regional Port District is hosting a public information meeting in concert with their development of a “port master plan.” The meeting is June 20 from 6 – 8 pm in Room 420 of the Twin Towers Plaza (456 Fulton, Peoria). No registration required. Reach out to Sally at shanley@greaterpeoriaedc.org for more information.