Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Defense Grant: For the past few years, GPEDC has worked with the University of Illinois Chicago and partners in Chicago, Rockford and the Quad Cities, along with our friends at Bradley-based Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), as part of the Illinois Defense Network. Earlier this year, the Illinois Defense Network was designated by the US Department of Defense as one of five new “Defense Manufacturing Communities” given the importance of defense contracting, particularly in manufacturing, in the northern half of Illinois. The designation was great in itself but it also unlocked some funding. In early October, the Network was notified of a five year, $5 million grant to support its efforts. The grant will be evenly split between the partners, resulting in about $140,000 in funds coming to Greater Peoria annually. The focus of the grant is to create a Center of Excellence Model for casting, forging, and energy storage manufacturers (think Caterpillar’s Mapleton Foundry and Cast Technologies, among others), to enhance innovation, increase industrial capacity, and to build a talent pipeline for advanced manufacturing and defense resiliency with a particular target of connecting underrepresented populations to these careers. The grant will allow us to keep up the great work of IDN program managers Linda Krendick and Brandon Hostetter, support the Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network, and offset some staff costs in business assistance, workforce development and marketing/communications. My thanks to Sally for being an absolute rock star with this work. She was a core part of the grant writing team for the entire IDN. More to come on this soon.
40 Under 40: While the official magazine won’t hit your mailboxes until next week, last night the GPEDC team celebrated one of their own. Kari Rauh, our Director of Workforce Solutions, was selected in this year’s class of 40 Leaders Under 40 (an event produced by our friends at WTVP/Peoria Magazines). GPEDC has always prided itself on employing and developing young leaders, so we were pleased to see Kari so deservingly recognized. She is widely recognized by her peers in the workforce development community as a strong and caring partner. Her work on Career Spark, Talent Pipeline Management, GP2030 and so many other initiatives is both impressive and impactful. If you get a chance, drop Kari a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and congratulate her. (Pictured below with a few members of Team GPEDC.)
Bob Ross Speaks: Did you miss last week’s Big Table? We couldn’t video tape the whole thing (and it would have been hard to truly capture the dozens of table conversations), but we did record the great keynote speech given by Bob Ross. Bob drove all the way to Peoria from Topeka, KS where he serves as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Greater Topeka Partnership. His presentation focussed on how Topeka picked itself up after some pretty big economic blows, invested in itself and created a nationally recognized talent attraction campaign. I would encourage you to watch the video here if you have 20 minutes to spare. You can access his slideshow here. Topeka and Peoria are very similar communities and there is a lot we can learn about the power of collective vision and collaboration.
New GPMN Member: 1060 Machine and its owner, James McGhee, is the newest member of the Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network. 1060 Machine, a Peoria County business, specializes in rapid prototyping, short to medium run production machined parts as well as product design and industrial repair. In addition to machined parts, they also offer in house welding and fabrication, heat treat, grinding, tumbling and type II anodizing. My thanks to GPMN Director Dick Peplow for bringing 1060 Machine into the Network.
Have a great weekend.