Wow, what a week! Some GPEDC updates to end your week:
Supply Chain Gathering: We had a great turnout for our first informal gathering of supply chain and purchasing professionals on Tuesday. About 30 people attended the meeting at the Growmark Truck Center in Morton. Lenora led a conversation about pain points, good resources, and opportunities for more local buying. We also had a good conversation about workforce shortages which impact our businesses in two ways: our local businesses are struggling to find employees, but their suppliers are also struggling to find talent. When a supplier isn’t fully staffed they aren’t fully productive and can’t fulfill orders on a timely basis. We plan to hold a future event to keep the conversation going.
Startup Showcase: Well over 150 people joined Distillery Labs for our first annual Startup Showcase at the Scottish Rite Theater on Wednesday. The event started with an open networking forum where entrepreneurs and supporters discussed topics like sustainability, smart mobility and neighborhood revitalization. Then we moved upstairs for the main event – showing off some of our amazing Greater Peoria startups. Steve Zika, President of Natural Fiber Welding, gave an amazing overview of NFW’s growth in Peoria and how they are disrupting both the textile industry AND the petro-chemical industry. Steve’s presentation was followed by the pitches of the latest graduates of our gBeta cohort: Aesthetic Ink, Focused AIM, Color Forge, SparkLearn and Bear’s Bites. The attendees were a cross section of the region: elected leaders, business leaders, community partners, entrepreneurs, young people, older folks (including me!) and, truly, a lot of people I had never seen at an event like this. Our partners in the Illinois Innovation Network were also well represented with attendees from Illinois State University, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Illinois Springfield and University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Hat tip to Andrew who was part of an amazing team to organize the event.
IEDC: This week David was in Oklahoma City for IEDC’s Annual Conference. David was invited as a keynote speaker for the EDTalks session, delivered in the TED Talks style. David presented his journey from Ghana to Peoria, reinventing himself in economic development and how our region is also working on reinvention. He touched on our Big Table sessions and how it led to the development of our CEDS and also our GP2030 Talent Attraction Initiative. He presented alongside the CEO of Newark Symphony Hall, President of Invest New Jersey, and Miami-Gardens Council Woman Linda Julien and held his own. After his presentation, several attendees walked up to him and mentioned how they wanted to move to Peoria because of how he spoke and presented about our region. David was also asked by IEDC to give a pep talk to young diverse fellows who were part of their new Equity in Economic Development Fellowship as they prepared for their presentation.
Midwest US-Japan Conference: Lenora attended the Midwest-Japan Conference in Chicago held by DCEO, Intersect, IL, and the trade leadership at the State of Illinois. It was the first conference in Chicago in 14 years and the first Midwest Japan Conference since 2019 due to COVID. The Midwest Japan conference normally happens every year and flips between locations in Japan and locations in the midwest. In addition to connecting with the Governor and our state agencies, Lenora learned business priorities from Toyota, Hitachi, Misubushi and others. She also learned insights about making inroads with Japanese companies for future investment. While in Chicago, she connected with Site Selector Jerry Szaban and Peoria Alum Kathleen Brill for continued relationship building and networking.
Have a great weekend.