Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Talent Attraction Grant: GPEDC hosted a press conference with our partners in the GP2030 Talent Attraction Initiative to celebrate the award of a $500,000 state grant to the Peoria Chamber of Commerce to support this important effort. The grant was secured by Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, who joined Joshua Gunn and myself to discuss how we can share with the world the amazing quality of life here in our region. Nice coverage of the press conference by WCBU. Also, WCBU has started a new effort to highlight stories of transplants to the Peoria area. You can read their first story profiling three newcomers here.
Economic Development Podcast: I was happy to join Dane Carlson on his national economic development podcast, aptly named “The Econ Dev Show.” I had a chance to talk (briefly) about my background and my love of economic development, but also spent a good deal of time sharing about GPEDC’ unique combination of planning services (think CEDS) and more traditional practices like business attraction and workforce development. If you have about a half hour to spare you can listen to it here.
Distillery Labs: I wanted to point out two media stories this week that are connected to Distillery Labs, a major GPEDC initiative. First, gBeta is a Distillery Labs business accelerator that takes five startups at a time through a seven-week course of exploration and learning (two cohorts each year). One of our current participants, Khushi Shah of E-Code, was featured on WEEK. Khushi is an amazing young entrepreneur – and I do mean young: she’s 17. Cool story. Second, Andrew and I, along with Kurt Bialobreski of Hanson Professional Services were interviewed by WCBU and discussed the “Central Illinois Living Laboratories” (CILL). Through a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation, and with the support of Peoria County and the City of Peoria, Distillery Labs is creating a real-life testbed for smart and connected city innovations. Distillery Labs recently partnered with the City of Peoria to streamline the process for entrepreneurs to utilize the City’s right-of-way to test their innovations. We are already working with four startups from across the country who are interested in coming here to test out their ideas.
September Jobs/Employment Report: Last week’s Weekend Update was already long when the September jobs and employment reports came in. Sort of a mixed bag last month. We saw a very modest increase of 200 jobs. The employment/unemployment report was not so good. Greater Peoria saw about 2,200 less people reporting themselves as employed. The labor force number dropped by about 3,300. But that drop in labor force led to a reduction in the regional unemployment rate to 4.3%. More data here.
Strategy Reports: On Tuesday we had our second-to-last Executive Board meeting of the year. We shared staff’s “strategy reports” outlining work accomplished in September. You can read those reports here.
Have a great weekend.