October 20, 2023

GPEDC Weekend Update- October 20, 2023

Defense Grant: I’ve mentioned before that Greater Peoria EDC is a member of the Illinois Defense Manufacturing Communities Consortium. Funded by a grant from the US Department of Defense to the University of Illinois Chicago, the Consortium works to help manufacturers in north and central Illinois connect with opportunities in the defense industry. Work includes innovation, workforce development, and modernization. Last week, Sally, Linda and Jeffrey (pictured below) attended a quarterly meeting of the Consortium partners, which includes the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Rockford EDC, Chicago Metals, and Peoria-based Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center. The meetings are a way of sharing information and resources with each other and planning how the group will work to better our regional defense industry. We don’t often think of our region as a “defense region,” but we have significant players in that space, including Caterpillar and Enercon Engineering. You can check out the report the GPEDC team gave to the Consortium here.

Award Winner: One area of GPEDC we don’t talk about very much is the grant work we do for our communities. The center of this work is Jim Cummings, a contract grant writer who has been working under the GPEDC umbrella for years. Jim has helped secure millions of dollars in state Community Development Block Grants for our more rural communities to help them build, expand, or improve water and sewer systems. This week, Jim was recognized for his efforts by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, particularly for his work ensuring that construction workers are paid a prevailing wage for their efforts (a key provision of the CDBG program). Congrats to Jim, one of the most unassuming people you will ever meet, for a well-earned recognition.

Choose GP: As part of the Choose Greater Peoria campaign, Misty Dykema of Simantel is using her “Marketing Sweats” podcast to feature individuals involved in the initiative. This week, Simantel and Choose GP released the podcast in which I was the guest. I swear I didn’t mean to speak for an hour, but anyone who knows me is also probably not surprised. Misty did a great job framing questions about my background, the work of GPEDC and the amazing quality of life we have in Greater Peoria. You can listen to it here. And you can check out the other editions of her podcast here. Guests include Nikki Romain (ART, Inc.), Bob Sehring (OSF), Keith Knepp (Carle), Chris Reynolds (Bradley) and Laura Cullinan (Gilmore Foundation). Unsurprisingly, mine is the longest of these, beating out Dr. Reynolds by about a half minute. Quantity, not quality!

AgTech Connect: The next meeting of our AgTech Connect meetups will be November 7 from 3 – 5 p.m. at CSE Software (316 SW Washington, Peoria). These events create opportunities for farmers, agricultural service providers, innovators, and parts of the startup community to interact and learn from each other. You can RSVP here.

B2B Arts: Speaking of state dollars being delivered locally, Illinois DCEO recently announced grant awards under their Back-to-Business – Arts program. GPEDC serves as a “Community Navigator Hub” for DCEO and partners with eleven organizations across seven counties to ensure every business knows about grant opportunities and has the help they need to apply. For the Arts grant, a total of 68 businesses in our region split $1,145,000 in grants to help them rebound from the economic impacts of COVID. This is on top of the $4.7 million delivered locally to restaurants and hotels through a similar program just a month ago. More details on the programs and winners here.

Have a great weekend.