May 19, 2023

GPEDC Weekend Update- May 19, 2023

Here are some GPEDC updates to end your week:

Select USA: Lenora attended Select USA, the country’s largest trade show for foreign companies, with Team Illinois again this year. It was the largest Select USA to date, with more than 4,900 people in attendance. In addition to planned meetings and booth staffing, Lenora connected with an additional 62 people through networking and has coordinated 5 follow up calls since with others in the works. The long term communication strategy is in process as well.  For the evening of state receptions, Intersect Illinois organized a clever strategy to obtain people’s information for follow up opportunities. They hired an Abraham Lincoln impersonator to staff a photo booth with props. Hundreds of people stopped by and shared their info to get a copy of the photos. While in line, participants were able to eat deep dish pizza, Eli’s cheesecake and drink Illinois made beer. All in all it was a clever and effective strategy for connecting with folks at the conference.  

Walk Audit: David is usually a behind-the-scenes asset, but he jumped into the fray this week. On Wednesday both David and Lenora attended Tri-County Regional Planning Commission’s workshop addressing transportation network inequities and exploring opportunities for improvement. The event included a “walk audit” on the Southside and presentations by nationally acclaimed transportation experts Charles Brown and Mark Fenton that underscored the significance of integrating equity into our system. The event served as a platform to gather inputs for the update of TCRPC’s 2017 Regional Bike Plan. David served as a facilitator of one of the group discussions on the topic. We recognize the importance of an equitable transportation network in driving economic development, and we are excited to witness the commitment of our regional partners in making this vision a reality. We embrace the opportunity to actively contribute to this transformative process.

Peoria County Startup Grants: Yesterday Peoria County announced its first round of funding for six startup businesses through their Start A Business Greater Peoria initiative. Each of the recipients completed the online Start A Business Greater Peoria program. Their ideas and work were vetted by at least two mentors in the Greater Peoria entrepreneurial ecosystem, and each worked through the various steps and phases outlined in the program. Andrew and I both sit on the Peoria County ad hoc committee that oversees this program, and Andrew serves as a mentor within the program. The recipients include Healing Through Words LLC (Peoria), Wooshball (Peoria), Blackbeard Canning Company (Glasford), Long Talk Auctions (Trivoli) and The Wink House (Peoria). The free program is open to anyone in the Central Illinois area to use. Entrepreneurs who have completed the program and have their business located in Peoria County, or residence in Peoria County for home-based businesses, are eligible to apply for the grant portion of the program. Applications are taken on a rolling basis; the grant review committee will next meet in July 2023.

Bar Takeover: Just a quick note of thanks to those who showed up at Olympia Bar last Saturday for the GPEDC vs. Peoria Chamber throwdown. Not only did current board chair Don Forrest show up, so did former board chair Mike Hinrichsen. It was a ton of fun, and I’m glad to have shared the bar duties with my good friend Joshua Gunn. In total we raised nearly $4,000 for Build Peoria.  We both agreed we’d love to do it again, so be on the lookout.

Have a great weekend.