January 24, 2022

The Year Ahead

I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions, or at least following through on them. Like many, I know I need to lose some weight and get back to the gym. I start the year with the best of intentions, but life (and laziness) gets in the way. But work is a different story. Turning the calendar feels like turning a page, and while much of the work of the past year will continue, there is a freshness to the planning. As the pandemic (hopefully) wanes and our region, nation and world begin to understand what our “new normal” looks like, I am excited by initiatives Greater Peoria EDC and its partners are undertaking. In 2021 we started work on The Big Table CEDS, our five year strategy to improve the regional economy. This isn’t just a planning document placed on the shelf here in my office. Rather, it drives our work. Here is just a snapshot of some of the exciting things we will be up to over the next twelve months.

  • With capital funding now in hand, we will see construction start on the renovation of 201 SW Adams into Distillery Labs. The facility should be open by late 2022 or early 2023. Development of programming will continue.
  • Speaking of which, we’ve already launched our “Biz Labs” educational series to help budding entrepreneurs learn the skills they need to start and expand their business. And gBeta will soon be signing up the next cohort of startups to run through our excellent accelerator.
  • We hope to return to an in-person Career Spark this Fall, but in the meantime are using our digital platform to launch “You’re Hired,” an opportunity for regional businesses to connect with graduating high school students.  
  • With our partners at the CEO Council, Discover Peoria and regional Chambers of Commerce, we will be dramatically expanding our already talent attraction campaign, GP2030.
  • In conjunction with GP2030 and just to help connect people with jobs, we will be launching a regional job board that will be a one-stop website for people looking for great jobs with great companies.
  • Coming in early summer, we will be creating and launching a brand new website that highlights the amazing assets of Greater Peoria and telling the story of the work of our organization.
  • We want to expand use of Foreign Trade Zone #114 so that even more businesses can lower the cost of imports.
  • With our friends at Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, we will be improving the position of the region as a center for river-based commerce through the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District.
  • Recognizing the importance of broadband, we will be working with communities across the region to take advantage of federal and state programs to ensure all our citizens have consistent and affordable access to the internet.
  • In the fall we will be hosting a conference that will bring experts in the corporate site selector field to Greater Peoria to learn more about our assets and to educate the community on how to be competitive in this field. 
  • We will expand our work under the state’s Community Navigator program to make sure our businesses and our communities can take advantage COVID relief programs.
  • The Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network will be looking for new members to round out the group and executing a new marketing strategy to share members’ capabilities across the country.

That’s an exciting list of projects, but they are activities that are on top of the day-to-day work of assisting businesses of all sizes and locations, marketing the region to the rest of the nation and world, and helping build a robust and equitable talent pipeline. None of this happens without the outstanding team at GPEDC, our amazing partners in the region, and of course our investors. I’m looking forward to 2022 and all the success I know it will bring. Thank you for joining us on this journey. Happy New Year!