May 27, 2022

GPEDC Weekend Update- May 26, 2022

Some GPEDC updates to end your week:

April Employment Report: Ugh. One step forward, one step back. The April 2022 employment report released yesterday wasn’t packed with much good news. The labor force number for Greater Peoria dropped about 1,200 since March 2022. The number of “employed persons” also dropped by about 1,300. The unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 5.2% to 5.3%. We can’t seem to establish a trend in any direction. If you look at the curve for labor force on the DataHub graph, you’ll notice that since November 2021 there have not been two consecutive months of either increase or decrease. I guess the good news is that the May employment report should show some good news…. A look at the jobs numbers for April next week.

Tazewell Broadband Survey: The Tazewell County broadband planning group, led in part by Kathie and Grace at GPEDC, wrapped up and the results are pretty interesting. A total of 904 Tazewell County residents participated in this planning process. While this is not a scientific survey the responses tell a compelling story of unserved and underserved households throughout Tazewell County. The survey was conducted during 6 weeks in March and April of 2022.  Working with key community groups throughout the county, print and electronic copies of the survey were distributed through schools, libraries, chambers of commerce, local governments, and social media. In addition, members of the planning committee visited every community in Tazewell County making presentations to city councils to further garner support for this effort. You can read a summary here. If you would like to see the full results, please drop Kathie a note a kbrown@greaterpeoriaedc.org.

US News Ranking: By now I hope you’ve seen the news that the Peoria metro area was ranked by US News as the 50th best place to live in America, and #1 in Illinois. (Less reported is that the same ranking listed Peoria as the 92nd best place to retire and the 9th most affordable place to live.) The ranking got some great coverage by local media, and spurred some nice reflections on our region. I wanted to share my favorite, a piece published by Peoria-based Simantel entitled “Why Simantel Loves Peoria.” Predictably, the coverage also brought about snarky comments by the army of discontent. I will say that it bothered me to see so much negativity about a positive story. But almost as if on cue, one of my favorite LinkedIn columnists, Jeff Siegler of “Revitalize or Die,” published an article Thursday morning called “Civic Self-Esteem.” My favorite section: “To build self-esteem, we have to put in the hard-work of improving. It’s not an external problem, so no one from outside your town can make it better. Locals, putting in the effort, day by day, week by week of getting stronger, healthier, more self-reliant and more resilient, this is truly the only remedy.” It’s worth 4 minutes of your time to read it all (and it does make me feel better to know that Peoria isn’t the only place that experiences this self-loathing).

Morton Talent Pipeline: Most of the GPEDC team joined our friends at the Morton EDC who hosted a great discussion last Friday that brought together businesses, education, and community institutions to discuss the challenges faced by employers in this crazy labor market. A number of Morton based employers got to learn about programming at Illinois Central College, the efforts of the Regional Workforce Alliance, CareerSpark, our new job board and a variety of other initiatives. Most importantly, they shared their struggles with getting and keeping employees. One overarching issue was transportation, the same feedback that was received at Tri-County Regional Planning Commission’s event a few weeks ago. The group brainstormed solutions involving public transit, carpooling and even employer-subsidized transportation. These are important discussions that will hopefully lead to solutions that work for both employers and employees. We are looking forward to be part of the ongoing conversation and work.

Have a great weekend.