Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Back to Business: Illinois DCEO announced the last set of grants awarded under their Back to Business COVID relief program (other than maybe a few who will be awarded if they have a successful appeal). GPEDC served as the “Hub” for the Community Navigator program that brought together 10 regional partners to provide outreach and technical assistance to businesses. In total, 135 businesses in our region were awarded grants totalling $5,095,000. DCEO is supposed to be launching two new relief programs early this summer (well, let’s be honest: they were supposed to be launched two months ago, so we shall see). Our grant has been extended through the end of the year and expanded to include services to McLean County, with the Bloomington Normal EDC (and former GPEDC staff member Casey Peterson) joining us to cover that area.
The Future of Manufacturing: GPEDC is partnering with our friends at the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC, housed at Bradley University) to host a forum on May 19 to learn about and discuss the future of manufacturing in Illinois as we navigate new key influences after the pandemic. To better understand the industrial landscape of today and plan for the future of Illinois manufacturing, David Boulay, President of IMEC will lead the audience to explore possible outcomes of key influencers like workforce changes, automation adaptation, and increased innovation. The forum will utilize real-time data, from the recently released Strategic Foresight Report, to track current and long-term trends. More information and registration information here.
Taking Your Next Steps in Entrepreneurship: Distillery Labs, led by our programming committee that includes Andrew Ngui (GPEDC), Aaron Gigous (OSF Innovation) and Nate Domenighini (gBeta), had an amazing event on Tuesday night. As we’ve mentioned, we had 25 applicants for our new gBeta cohort, but could only select five. At the same time, Bradley recently held its “Big Idea” contest for student startup teams. They also had about 25 entrants with only five moving on to the finals. So what do we do with all those that didn’t “make the cut?” How about keep them engaged in their idea and our startup ecosystem. All of these teams were invited to come to The Nest Tuesday night to keep working on their ideas and network with other entrepreneurs. You can read more about this event here. Hats off to the programming team for keeping this group engaged.
Winning in Havana: Some good news from the southern end of Greater Peoria: The Havana Area Chamber of Commerce was selected as one of seven small community cultural organizations in Illinois to host Spark! Places of Innovation, a new traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution. Spark! will be at the Havana City Center from January 13, 2024 to February 17, 2024. Spark! will highlight innovation in rural America from the perspectives of people who have lived it. Spark! features stories from communities throughout the United States – including several small towns in Illinois – that have enhanced their vitality through advances in fields such as the arts, education, technology, agriculture, and economic development. If you haven’t been to Havana lately, I encourage you to go (but don’t wait until 2024!). They have done such great work in their downtown and riverfront and are a great example of a small town investing in its future.
Have a great weekend.