Last week, I mentioned that we were at the end of a bad heat wave. In a complete reversal, I write this as I’m sitting outside on the most pleasant August day I can remember here in Peoria. Like they say, we get four seasons in Greater Peoria, sometimes all in one month. A few updates to end your week:
Illinois Waterway Ports Annual Meeting: Over 50 stakeholders from across Illinois – and beyond just Greater Peoria – gathered at the Peoria Riverfront Museum on Thursday for the first annual meeting of the Illinois Waterway Ports. It was great to hear from so many local, regional and national partners who are working hard to improve waterborne commerce in our state on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. We have such an amazing resource in our region and need to continually be investing in our capabilities to take advantage of it. My thanks to the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District board and staff for putting on a great day of information sharing and networking. And a tip of the cap to GPEDC staff who helped organize the event. Nearly every GPEDC staff member was involved from organization, content creation, marketing, technical assistance, and active participation. More here.
Farm Progress Show: Kathie attended this year’s Farm Progress Show earlier this week. The 70th-anniversary show was held on the campus of Richland Community College in Decatur and provided an opportunity to network with a vast number of companies and organizations showcasing the latest farm products, technology, and state-of-the-art field demonstrations. Attendees from more than thirty countries around the world and many local companies participate in this multistate event. Kathie and crew were helping to share the story of GP AgTech Connect to organizations and businesses from our region and beyond and seeking to gain new partners for our ongoing work to bolster agriculture and AgTech in our region.
July Jobs and Employment: An odd, mixed bag of numbers in the July reports from IDES, but mostly good news to me. First, the region saw another big jump in labor force (+2,300, after a jump from May to June of +3,100) and nice growth in the number of people employed at +1,400. That means about 700 more unemployed than in the previous month but that seems due to a growth in the labor force. That means more people off the sidelines and looking for work. Consequently, our regional unemployment rate increased a half point to 5.5%. Again, I can live with an increased unemployment rate if it means more people are working and looking for work. The jobs side was a bit dimmer, and strange if I’m being honest. The chart says we lost 2,000 jobs between June and July, but the biggest losses were in a category labeled “Government” which shows 1,600 less jobs. But can anyone think of mass layoffs in government over the summer? I’ve said before that these numbers are always a bit mysterious. These words in pictures here.
Import/Export Seminar: GPEDC and Foreign Trade Zone #114 (which Sally and GPEDC manage) are co-sponsoring a Bradley Small Business Development Center and International Trade Center virtual seminar on how to utilize “merchandise passports.” From the program description: “You wouldn’t travel internationally without a passport. Nor should you travel with products and samples without a ‘passport’ for goods. Similarly, do you sometimes need to have merchandise imported into a country on a temporary basis but want to avoid the hassle of actually importing and then exporting? Attend this webinar to learn how to solve these challenges.” More information and free registration here.
Last call: Career Spark is still looking for volunteers for the September 28 and 29 in-person event. Without hundreds of volunteers, you can’t shepherd nearly 5,000 kids through the Peoria Civic Center. General volunteer sign-up is open now through the online form here. We currently lack volunteers for the Arts, Tech and Communications, and Legal Industries, so if you have any experience in those fields, please indicate on the form you would like to be assigned to those industries.
Have a great Labor Day weekend.