Here are a few updates to end your week:
GPMN Meeting: We had a packed house for this quarter’s meeting of the Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network, including a few newcomers. The meeting was held at Integris Group’s Peoria facility and featured a presentation by Integris’ Andy Berberich and Quality Metal Products’ (QMP) Jeremy Casper on a recent joint project that is using robots to automate manufacturing processes at QMP. These two companies, who first met at a Network meeting a few years ago, discussed how the solutions were driving down costs, increasing productivity, and reducing errors. QMP’s new robotic processes even helped them win a new contract with a big customer. The partnership is a great example of what is best about advanced manufacturing and the value of the Network in bringing together different parts of this industry.
GPEDC Staff Transition: I always hate writing about stuff like this. Our Director of Business Attraction, Lenora Fisher, is leaving GPEDC at the end of the month to take on an amazing new challenge working for Intersect Illinois. Intersect Illinois is the state’s private marketing organization responsible for business attraction, so you can see why Lenora will be a great asset to them. And lucky for us, she will remain an asset for us by working for them. Lenora joined GPEDC a bit over four years ago and has been a really amazing part of our team. As our first full-time employee dedicated to business attraction, she has made connections with dozens and dozens of site selectors, foreign consulates and business leaders. She managed a lot of day-to-day work and requests from site selectors that had ridiculous deadlines, and still managed to approach her work strategically and thoughtfully. We will be taking a look at her job description and posting the opportunity to join our team soon. In the meantime, please thank Lenora for her great contributions and wish her luck in her new job.
EDA University Center Showcase: I had the chance to attend the Chicago Region of EDA’s “University Center Showcase.” I think this is supposed to be held each year, but COVID sort of ruined that! EDA funds two public universities in each state to conduct research around economic development issues. In Illinois, the Centers are the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana (UIUC) and the University of Illinois Chicago. We have partnered with both of them through the years. UIUC recently helped us with an economic analysis to measure the impact of the Havana power plant closure. UIC is the lead entity in the Illinois Defense Manufacturing Consortium (though technically not through the University Center program). I was asked by UIUC’s Laura Appenzeller to join Illinois DCEO Deputy Director Kristi Dula for a panel discussion on the deep partnership between Central Illinois and DCEO. It was particularly good to connect with other Economic Development Districts in Illinois, and EDA’s Chicago regional staff. I was able to catch up with an old friend of Greater Peoria – Darrin Fleener, who formerly covered Illinois – as well as our current EDR, Emily Rhodes.
Illinois Innovation Index: Each year, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC) puts together the “Illinois Innovation Index” to analyze data on which universities Illinois’s entrepreneurs are emerging from and where these entrepreneurs establish their businesses post-graduation. The report also provides information about the diversity of startups across the state. This year, ISTC’s Illinois Innovation Index will be released in Peoria at an event held September 27 from 11 am to 1 pm at OSF’ Jump Trading Simulation Center. Dr. John Vozenilek will give the keynote address and some familiar local faces will be part of a panel discussion on innovation, including our own Andrew Ngui. Register for the event here.
IL Defense Manufacturing Consortium: As you know, Greater Peoria is part of the Illinois Defense Manufacturing Consortium, a collaboration led by the University of Illinois Chicago. You can read their latest quarterly newsletter here.
Have a great weekend.