In the dynamic landscape of Central Illinois, the Greater Peoria region stands at a pivotal point of transformation. Transitioning from its storied roots as a manufacturing hub to embracing a service-oriented economy, the region faces the dual challenges of adapting its labor force and reversing population decline. The “Connecting the Dots through Business Outreach” project, spearheaded by the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council in collaboration with Lincoln Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD), embarks on an ambitious journey to revitalize and reshape the economic fabric of both rural and urban communities across Central Illinois. This project is made possible through the Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) Fellowship program initiated in 2023 through a cooperative agreement worth $30 million with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and led by the International Economic Development Council, is designed to build capacity and cultivate the next generation of economic development leaders.
At the heart of this initiative is the ERC Fellow, a catalyst for change tasked with orchestrating a comprehensive business outreach strategy. This strategy is not just about business retention and expansion; it’s a blueprint for fostering collaboration and driving regional coordination that bridges the gap between the rich manufacturing legacy of the area and its burgeoning service-oriented future. By leveraging the untapped potential of small and medium-sized enterprises, the project aims to fuel population growth and cultivate a talent pipeline essential for the region’s prosperity.
- Foster Collaboration: Create a collaborative environment among businesses, economic development organizations, and community stakeholders to facilitate shared growth and innovation.
- Strengthen the Manufacturing Ecosystem: Reinforce the existing manufacturing base while exploring service-oriented opportunities to create a balanced economic landscape.
- Drive Business Retention and Expansion: Implement strategies that support local businesses, encouraging regional expansion and retention.
- Leverage Regional Economic Development: Utilize strategic initiatives to spur population growth and develop a robust talent pipeline, aligning with the region’s long-term economic goals.
- Promote Sustainability and Electrification: Capitalize on current trends such as reshoring, electrification, and sustainability, positioning Greater Peoria as a forward-thinking, resilient economy.
The project commences in Lincoln, Illinois’s small but pivotal community, serving as the proving ground for innovative strategies that will later be expanded region-wide. The ERC Fellow’s efforts will be instrumental in the rewrite of the 2025 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, laying the groundwork for a reimagined economic landscape in Greater Peoria.
Through strategic outreach and development, “Connecting the Dots through Business Outreach” envisions a future where Greater Peoria thrives as a harmonious blend of its manufacturing roots and service-oriented ambitions. This initiative aims to revitalize the region, ensuring a vibrant, interconnected community that attracts businesses, talent, and residents to Central Illinois.
We invite you to be part of this transformative journey. Together, we can shape the future of Greater Peoria, fostering a community that is economically vibrant, socially inclusive, and ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.