Playing Host: It was a busy week showing off our great community and having some serious conversations. Greater Peoria EDC was awarded a grant from the State of Illinois to conduct a “laborshed analysis.” This report will do a deep dive into the region’s workforce assets for two reasons. First, the report will help us document, articulate, and market our high-quality workforce. But second, knowing that we always have ways to improve, the study will help us identify weaknesses and opportunities to do better for our citizens and businesses. GPEDC hired Newmark, an internationally recognized economic development consulting firm, to conduct this analysis. As a bonus, Newmark is also one of the country’s largest “site selection” consultants, allowing us to have an in-depth audience with a company that works with businesses looking to relocate and expand.
This week, a team of four Newmark consultants visited Peoria to get a first-hand look at our community to augment their desktop data mining and phone interviews with local employers. We organized roundtable conversations with the Regional Workforce Alliance, local colleges, representatives from K-12 education, members of the startup support community, local utilities, and the Choose Greater Peoria talent attraction initiative. To get a better understanding of how Peoria is tackling its racial disparity, they joined me for the annual meeting of the Joint Commission on Racial Justice and Equity. Between the serious and educational conversations, we had a chance to showcase some of the great things about Greater Peoria. This included a hardhat tour of the nearly completed OSF Cancer Therapy Center, a tour of Komatsu’s mining truck factory, a visit to the Peoria Riverfront Museum (with a personal tour provided by CEO and Peoria-supporter-extraordinaire John Morris), and attendance at the Peoria Chamber’s Thanksgiving Luncheon. It was a packed week, but it’s easy when you have so much to showcase. The report will be done in early 2024.
Back-to-Business NewBiz: Yesterday, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced its latest grant to help small businesses. This new program, B2B NewBiz, is designed to help those businesses that opened just before or in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that launched in 2020 or 2021 and remain in operation have faced significant impacts during the pandemic, but they have not been eligible for other federal or state relief programming since they were not operational prior to the pandemic. Grants of up to $30,000 are available to eligible businesses in certain priority categories like hotels, restaurants, retailers, entertainment venues, artists and dry cleaners. Businesses that previously received state grant help are ineligible. You can read all the rules here. Greater Peoria EDC once again will be coordinating its local network of “Community Navigators”to help businesses understand the rules and apply for the grant. Applications will be accepted between November 30, 2023 and January 11, 2024.
Shop Local: It is nearly that time of the year, and the Amazon vans will be tearing around our city streets with extra vigor. But what better way to shop local and share your pride in our region than by patronizing the Discover Peoria Holiday Shop at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. Every year, our friends at Discover Peoria curate an incredible collection of locally made goods to make your holiday shopping easy. They are open now through Christmas Eve, every day from 10 am to 6 pm. More information here.
10G Rollout: GPEDC partner Comcast announced that its latest Xfinity 10G Network updates are rolling out to homes and businesses in the Peoria area. These network enhancements will benefit customers across most speed tiers and price points. With these improvements, Comcast is also rolling out new download speeds up to 2 gigabits-per-second (Gbps) and up to 5x-to-10x faster upload speeds. Click here to read the full announcement.
Amazingly, next week is Thanksgiving – a fact that I’m still having a hard time believing. Our offices are going to be closed on Thursday and Friday. Since I don’t want to get 400 “out of office” auto-replies, we will be skipping Weekend Update next week. But we will still be working hard on behalf of Greater Peoria. In advance of the holiday, though, let me share how thankful I am for all of you. Whether you are a GPEDC investor, a service partner, an elected leader, a business leader, or someone who shares the same passion we do for making Greater Peoria even greater, thank you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.