Mazen Ribbon Cutting: Tuesday was a great day for a drive to Mason City. I was able to attend a ribbon cutting for Mazen Animal Health, an Iowa-based AgTech startup that is revolutionizing the way livestock are vaccinated. The company purchased the former Bayer/Monsanto seed facility in Mason City, a business that closed a few years ago. (Some slight irony that Mazen is now in Mason.) Mazen has already invested a few million in our region and has hired a small crew to help them through their pilot phase as they seek regulatory approvals. They hope to have about 15 full time employees within the next few years and ultimately 50 or so employees. It was a great way to celebrate new investment in our region and recognize the advantages we have in the AgTech space.
AgTech Connect: Coincidentally, while I was in Mason City, Kathie and Sally were attending the latest AgTech Connect gathering. These quarterly sessions are designed to amplify the importance of agriculture innovation. Never before has it been so important to strengthen our regional bonds and embrace a culture of diversification, innovation and collaboration. On Tuesday, CSE Software and Simformotion hosted more than 50 guests all focused on learning more about agriculture business innovations generated here in central Illinois. Additional resources and networking opportunities were presented by Bradley University Interactive Media User Experience Design Program, University of Illinois National Center for Digital Ag. and Precision Planting. This work continues to grow as a way to connect entrepreneurs with resources in our community to support their business development. Through this work, we are giving focus to agriculture innovations and the contributions of the agriculture industry to our overall economic strengths in Central Illinois.
NADO: When I was a junior in college, I had my first public service job as a summer intern in Cleveland. Thirty years later I stepped foot back in Cleveland this week to attend the annual conference for the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). NADO membership is made up of organizations like GPEDC that serve as economic development planners for their regions. I was able to catch up with some colleagues and attend workshops on CEDS guidelines, broadband, diversity, and leadership development. (Oh, and I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, too.)
Discover the Future of Manufacturing: Last Friday, Jeffrey attended the Smart Manufacturing Showcase at MxD (a digital manufacturing lab in Chicago). He was able to see the latest technologies in Smart Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 through hands-on learning and a tour of a really cool space. Jeffrey told me that it was eye-opening to understand the direction manufacturing is taking. He also noted that the skills and abilities we will need to drill down on are evolving rapidly. It’s great to know that organizations like IMEC, CESMII, and even our own ICC are providing great opportunities for folks to learn, grow, and prepare themselves to sustain rewarding, quality employment.
EV Charging: We are partnering with Tri-County Regional Planning Commission to identify private businesses outside of Peoria that would be interested in participating in a regional grant application that will help purchase and install light-duty electric vehicle charging stations at publicly accessible locations. We have a limited time to build a regional proposal and would like to identify private companies before Thanksgiving who would be interested in working with us in pursuit of this state funding opportunity. If you are interested in helping us to identify private business interests (i.e.health care, banking, grocers, restaurants) please email Eric Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strategy Reports: This was board week so that means I made everyone write up strategy reports to outline what they did in October. You can reward them by reading them here.
Have a great weekend.