For most, December is a month of celebration. Sure, it is a harried time trying to get ready for family, preparing for vacation, and buying gifts. December is all that for me, too, but it is also the end of our fiscal year and also the month in which I have to finalize the organization’s budget for the coming year. When I sit down to prepare the budget for our Board’s approval, I always start with revenue. This, of course, is the number that allows all the work to happen. But in addition to providing me with a basis to make decisions around expenses, estimating revenues also gives me a chance to give thanks for the breadth and generosity of Greater Peoria EDC’s investors. They truly are a gift to both our organization and our community.
In 2023, about 40% of Greater Peoria EDC’s budget will come from “voluntary investment.” These are cities, counties, companies, and even a few nonprofit organizations that choose to invest in the organization. Investment levels range from $100,000 to $1,000, but each is equally valuable to me. I enjoy connecting with each of our members throughout the year to share with them how important they are to our work and to share with them how we are leveraging their contributions to improve our region.
Our investors understand that their contributions are not transactional, and they don’t expect equal value in return. Rather, they appreciate how they will benefit from a stronger regional economy. Everyone wins when there are more jobs, higher wages, and greater profits. Our local governments’ budgets are buoyed by higher property values and greater spending. Construction companies benefit from corporations expanding. Banks see a better bottom line from increased economic activity. In regional economic development, when one wins, we all win.
I am quick to mention to others that “fundraising” is the least favorite part of my job. I just do not like asking people or businesses for money. I often joke that I don’t even like sending “invoices” to long-term and reliable investors who I know will pay. But I do enjoy sharing with others how important the work of Greater Peoria EDC is and hope they recognize why it is important to support financially. This past year was incredible. Over 4,000 students went through Career Spark. We helped Illinois Central College land a $15 million EDA grant to provide information technology training. We were able to show off our region to a number of site selectors. We helped reinvigorate the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District. We assisted dozens of small businesses to obtain COVID relief grants. We increased opportunities for businesses to get involved with defense contracting. We made serious progress on Distillery Labs and engaged with dozens of entrepreneurs looking to launch their businesses. We helped our rural communities understand the importance of broadband and prepare for coming funding opportunities. All of this is only possible because of the generous support of our investors.
As I look back over this past year and look ahead to the next one, I am so thankful for the gift of those organizations that see the value of regional economic development. You can find a list of all our investors here. If you find yourself in the same room as one of them, please thank them, too. Their investment in Greater Peoria EDC is also an investment in you.