Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Big Table: Another week in October, another big event in Greater Peoria. On Thursday, over 400 people took a seat at the Big Table, a community-wide conversation on the strengths of Greater Peoria, but also what needs work. It was great to see lots of familiar faces, including many GPEDC board members, but to also engage with so many new faces. We had great discussions about diversity, entrepreneurship, workforce, and quality of place. We had a chance to listen to a great keynote address by Bob Ross of Go Topeka, a very successful talent attraction program. Big Table really is a team event. The entire GPEDC staff was there, whether manning the registration table (Melissa), documenting the event and being an extra set of hands (David), or serving as table facilitators (everyone else). Even Adrian, our communications intern, pitched in. And of course, the entire event is one big group project. My thanks to our amazing partners for making the return to an in-person Big Table such a success.
Peoria County Startup Portal and Grant: For the past year, Chris and Andrew have served as members of Peoria County’s Advisory Committee for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development. Led by Dr. Eden Blair (County board member and professor of entrepreneurship at Bradley University), the committee has worked to develop a really great tool and incentive to help encourage entrepreneurship and prepare people for owning a successful business. Utilizing a local startup software company, this week Peoria County launched Start a Business Greater Peoria. Interested entrepreneurs can access an online portal that helps to guide them through the business formation process and connect them with local resources and mentors. The portal also has a “passport system” where entrepreneurs can collect “stamps” from various resource partners like GPEDC, Bradley’s Small Business Development Center, SCORE and others. Individuals who collect four or more stamps, which indicate they have worked through a process to have a solid business idea and plan, can apply for a microgrant of $5,000. While a modest amount, the grant can help turn a dream into a reality. You can learn more about it here and read some media coverage here.
Taco Tuesday: In an effort to create networking opportunities for students at Bradley University, Andrew joined Jane Talkington (Bradley), Nate Domenighini (gBeta), and Aaron (OSF Innovation) to organize “Taco Tuesdays,” an effort to connect students with innovators, creatives, small business owners, and investors, This week’s event was a blockbuster success. The event was broadcasted on the student Hilltop channel, which resulted in a critical mass of students in attendance. We almost filled up the entirety of Jimador restaurant in Campustown. We also had the opportunity to learn about their motivations for attending Bradley and also about the things they were interested in to self-actualize and become a better version of themselves. You can see some photos from the event here.
Greensboro: Kari and the GP2030 team took to the road last week and attended the Young, Smart and Local conference in Greensboro, NC. It was an action packed few days of learning about talent attraction, development, and retention. The GP 2030 team met professionals from Tulsa Remote , GoTopeka, and Action Greensboro to learn best practices from the communities that boast impressive results in attracting talent to the region. When the site selectors at last week’s familiarization tour gave an action step to connect with Tulsa and northwest Louisiana to learn from what they did, the team was thrilled to realize they had already made those connections and have pursued intentional conversations about how to learn from these regions. Our region had already been already consulting with the Senior VP of Communications at GoTopeka, Robert Ross, who was the keynote speaker at the Big Table yesterday.
Have a great weekend.