German Visitors: This all happened too late to report in my last Weekend Update, but last Thursday Greater Peoria played host to a delegation of eleven members of the Osnabruck (Germany) Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The delegation of business representatives, mostly from family-owned small manufacturers, spent the day learning about the assets and opportunities in Greater Peoria. We started at Growmark in Morton with a “lunch and learn” roundtable discussion about agricultural technology. That was followed by a tour of the USDA AgLab in Peoria and then a visit to Natural Fiber Welding’s Mirum production facility (where the tour guide – NFW’s chief operating officer and a German immigrant – gave the tour in German to the delight of our guests.) We also visited the Caterpillar Visitors Center with a tour arranged by GPEDC board member Henry Vicary. The day ended with a wonderful reception at the Peoria Riverfront Museum where the delegation was able to interact with members of the Peoria business community and get a personal tour by John Morris. It was a great day to showcase Greater Peoria, and one of the delegation made a point of telling me that he could tell our welcome was “from the heart.” My thanks to everyone who made this possible, including our friends at Iowa Interstate Railroad who helped to underwrite the cost of the visit. Special thanks to former employee Lenora Fisher (who returned from her new work to help out), current employee Kathie Brown and the amazing Leigh Ann Brown of the Morton EDC for their efforts. Hosting delegations like this takes a lot of work, and even more teamwork, but are great ways to form relationships with new friends and hone our skills at telling our story.
Canadian Visitors: More recently (like yesterday), we hosted two representatives from Edgecom Energy, a Canadian startup that provides energy efficiency solutions to manufacturers and other large energy users. The connection started through our membership in the Transatlantic Business Investment Council, although ironically Canada is not across the Atlantic from the US (but we aren’t quibbling). Like our visit with the Germans, this was an opportunity to showcase our region, albeit with a bit of a different aim. Here we were trying to make connections between Edgecom and potential clients for two reasons: First, we know that companies in expansion mode are more likely to locate where they have success in landing clients. Second, and just as importantly, we know that energy costs are a key component of a company’s cost structure and we are always looking for tools that will help make our companies more efficient and ultimately profitable. Our itinerary included a presentation to manufacturers over lunch, a tour of the Peoria Next Innovation Center, and visits to Morton Industries and NFW. We were also able to take our guests to the Peoria Wine & Food Festival, a great showcase of Peoria’s quality of life and generosity.
Makers on the Move: It was a pleasure to join my friends from the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) for the Peoria stop on their “Makers on the Move” bus tour. In honor of October being Manufacturing Month, IMA and IMEC have been criss-crossing the state in a specially branded bus and showcasing the importance of manufacturing to our state and region. The bus parked itself at Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network member Peoria Production Solutions (PPS). After some remarks to the media, the group got a great tour of PPS which is not only a major employer in this industry, but also one that targets the employment of individuals with physical, behavioral and cognitive disabilities. GPEDC is a proud member of the IMA, and a proud partner with IMEC in helping manufacturing in our region be the best they can be. Thank you to both for selecting Greater Peoria as a stop on its trip.
Have a great weekend.