Earlier this month, Greater Peoria EDC hosted its 2023 Annual Meeting. For the first time since 2020, we had an in-person option for this gathering of our investors and partners. It was great to see so many faces in the room, as well as having a good crowd join us via Zoom. In total, over 80 people had a chance to hear about the great work our organization did last year and our plans for this year. I am so proud of the work we did to advance our strategies and improve the economy, and I invite you to read our 2022 Annual Report to get all the details. But I’m really excited about the work ahead of us.
I could write pages on our plans for 2023, but I won’t put you through that. Rather, here are some bullet points to highlight some of our bigger initiatives:
- We worked with a team that spans northern Illinois to be awarded a five year, $5 million grant from the US Defense Department towards the end of 2022. The work of the Illinois Defense Manufacturing Consortium will really gear up this year, aimed at helping our local manufacturing industry (particularly casting and forging businesses) connect with defense opportunities and build a talent pipeline.
- We will be ramping up our business outreach efforts and hope to connect with over 100 businesses to assess needs, solve problems, and get a better pulse on the local economy.
- We are taking business attraction on the road and overseas. The first trip is to Austria and Germany to visit with advanced manufacturing companies that are seeking growth opportunities in the US. We will also be at Select USA in Washington DC and continue building relationships with foreign consulates and site selectors.
- Speaking of international companies, we are digging deeper into opportunities in Brazil. We have landed two Brazilian startup companies in the last two years and think there is a chance for more.
- We plan to host over 5,000 middle school students at our annual Career Spark, in addition to having over 5,000 high school students at our digital “You’re Hired” program.
- We will start working with Illinois Central College, Bradley, and Eureka to create the IT Workforce Accelerator.
- We are doubling the capacity of our regional job board and working closely with our GP2030 partners to ramp up our talent attraction initiative.
- We will see construction start on Distillery Labs later this year and hope to see its completion and opening at the start of 2024. In the meantime, we will continue building momentum toward its opening through great programming and improving our regional startup ecosystem.
- We are going all-in on broadband expansion and will be working with each of our counties to ensure they are prepared to take advantage of the incoming avalanche of state and federal funding in this important area.
- We will be building partnerships in Mason, Peoria and Tazewell counties to help build and launch recovery strategies to deal with their closed or closing coal power plants.
- We are going to add new members with new capabilities to the GP Manufacturing Network.
- We will partner with Illinois DCEO to help local businesses take advantage of four new business relief grant programs.
- We are going to do an even better job of telling the story of Greater Peoria and our organization.
That list just scratches the surface of our work. And I use the word “we” on purpose. It is not just the eight staff members and a handful of contractors who do all this work. Greater Peoria EDC leverages the entire region to help drive the economy forward. Whether you are an investor, an elected or appointed public leader, a program partner, or a business leader, you are an important part of this work. Keep an eye on Greater Peoria EDC not only to learn about what is going on but for how you can help.
Onwards to 2023.