It was such a joy to join so many of you at the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Thanksgiving Luncheon last week. It has always been one of my favorite events, but I think I join many of you in feeling that this year’s luncheon was more special than usual. Maybe it is because it has been nearly two years since the last one, but I also found the whole event to be very uplifting. The Chamber staff, led by Joshua Gunn, put on a great show and each speaker was inspiring and positive. I was especially moved by Bob Woolsey of Jones Bros. Jewelers who encouraged all of us to be grateful every day. The last two years have tested our ability to be grateful at times, but we truly do have many blessings.
This week is Thanksgiving, my absolute favorite holiday of the year. That is mainly because I love to cook (and eat!) and it makes me happy to have a house full of family and friends. I probably dwell too much on the meal and football and lose the meaning of the day. But inspired by Bob’s potent message, allow me to share some of the things for which I am grateful this year.
I am grateful for this amazing community. Every time I mention to someone that I am from southern California, they wonder why I would move to Peoria. But I’m equally perplexed why more people don’t live here. Our region is beautiful, affordable and livable. We have a great arts scene, increasing diversity, no traffic (trust me!) and an amazing variety of choices of lifestyle. Greater Peoria is also one of the most generous communities in America, with a dynamic community foundation and one of the nation’s best supported United Way programs. It has been an honor to raise my family here.
I am grateful for our partners. Each year, dozens of companies, organizations and local governments invest in Greater Peoria EDC, making it possible for us to do our work. Our larger investors are listed in this newsletter, but each and every member is important to our work. While our financial supporters are critical to our success, so too are the organizations with which we share the work. The team is broad, committed and amazing. From our regional chambers of commerce to organizations like Discover Peoria and Tri-County Regional Planning Commission to the elected and appointed leaders of our communities, we know that economic development is truly a team sport. The same goes for our volunteers like the members of our Board of Directors, CEDS Strategy Team and other committees. We are not in this work alone.
Finally, I am grateful for the staff of the Greater Peoria EDC. To borrow a phrase from my friend Mark Roberts of the Community Foundation, Team GP is “small but mighty.” Whether employee or contractor, the people who work everyday on your behalf are some of the most dedicated professionals I have ever had the joy of working with. I sometimes feel like I get a lot of credit for the great work of this organization, but I know who really does the hard work. I am lucky to have these teammates by my side.
I hope you are able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday sharing time with your family and friends. I hope your turkey turns out great, there are lots of leftovers, and your favorite football team wins. But I also hope you can take stock of the year behind us and how blessed we all are to be able to share this time together. Know that I am grateful for you.