Spurring Something Good
Economic development professionals are a pretty competitive group. We like to win projects, jobs, and investment. Losing a headquarters is...well...not unlike the feeling the Falcons must of had in that last quarter.

It's hard to see this news as anything but negative. However, there are a few reasons it could spur something good in GP...

#1. Diverse Economies are Resilient Economies. We need diversity, but sometimes its hard not to fall back on what we know. This news will continue to force our region to do things differently. We love Big Yellow, but it just isn't healthy to expect them to be our everything. Our
Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network is a great example of a regional strategy working towards diversification.

#2. A Focus on Healthcare is..well..Healthy.
Healthcare is actually our largest regional sector, but is often overshadowed by manufacturing. This news could help us further focus on supporting and leveraging the growth and development of UnityPoint - Peoria I Pekin and OSF Healthcare to the significant benefit of our region. Based on our recent Labor Projection Survey, this sector is planning to hire over 6,000 new people over the next 24 months. Our Greater Peoria Pathways career development program is well underway, which is great news since we have a lot of work to do to make sure we can support the workforce needs and growth strategies of this important cluster.

#3 We Are Well-Positioned for An Anchor Institution Strategy
Regions across the nation are growing differently and more organically then ever before. Check out the Cleveland Model in the video below. This type of strategy is ideal for GP. The City of Peoria's Innovation Team, Invest Health Team, and other regional partners are beginning work in this space!

#4. Locally Grown is Our Future.
Entrepreneurs are more likely to launch and grow businesses in their hometown. Great examples in GP include AutonomousStuff, 360 Yield, DevBright, Onefire, and CSE Software . One of the best ways we can continue building a strong and diverse GP is to develop and support talented entrepreneurs. How do we do that? Startup Peoria programs in partnership with Bradley University's Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, the Central Illinois Angels, OSF Innovation, and many others are already making a difference. 

We received some tough news for sure, but GP is already working hard to make sure our eggs are never in one basket. Building a new and diverse economy and doing things differently have been a mantra for years. This news adds more fuel to the already growing fire of independence and resiliency in our amazing region.

Jennifer Daly
Greater Peoria Economic Development Council
Over 9,000 Jobs Anticipated in 2017-2018
by Kate Cundiff,  Director of Workforce Solutions
The Greater Peoria EDC recently conducted a survey with the larger employers in our region to obtain an accurate representation of their projected hiring needs over the next 24 months. Preliminary results indicate
over 9,000 job openings will be available over the next two years in healthcare, manufacturing, professional and technical services, agri-business, and logistics. 

Some of the positions are replacement and others will be new. Positions range from production assemblers and engineers to accountants and human resources. The projected demand shows tremendous growth in the diverse economy of Greater Peoria.

The findings of our survey will help us focus our workforce development programs, partnering with our educators to introduce students to our most in-demand career opportunities and build capacity in regional college and certification programs. The information will also help us  leverage our Live Greater Peoria talent attraction strategies to target talented GP Alumni willing to return to their hometown of Greater Peoria.

A more detailed report on our Labor Projection Survey will be available in March 2017. Questions? Email Kate Cundiff, Director of Workforce Solutions at kcundiff@greaterpeoriaedc.org
Straight Forward Opening in Downtown Peoria - Up to 250 Jobs to be Created
Straight Forward, an eight year old, family-operated business headquartered in Sauk City, Wisconsin will open a new location in Peoria, Illinois by
March 2017.  This will be the company's sixth location and the first to be located outside of the state of Wisconsin.  

Straight Forward researched multiple locations, visited several different cities and completed premarket labor research before ultimately selecting Peoria.

"Our decision is predominately based on workforce and access to motivated sales people," stated Straight Forward President, Rod Schwegel.  Straight Forward is a call center provider that focuses on selling subscription based services to customers nationwide.   The company offers flexible work hours, strong bonus opportunities and a state of the art work environment.

Existing Businesses Report Growth and Needs
by Sally Hanley, Director of Business Assistance
Each year, I get to meet with 100 of our regional employers to understand their progress, challenges, and future plans, and to provide assistance whenever possible. The visits are a part of our business assistance program, a program we call Elevate Greater Peoria. Of the 101 employers I met with in 2016, 
31 are planning expansions that will generate over $100 million in new investment over the next three years! What great news for Greater Peoria!
While some companies are preparing for expansions, others are working hard to keep what they have. In fact, 11 of the employers I met with are considered at risk based on their input. The GPEDC and our regional partners are already working hard to provide resources, programs, and direct assistance to help these employers identify new markets and pursue new sales.  Read the full story here.

To schedule your visit, please contact Sally at shanley@greaterpeoriaedc.org
Manufacturing Network Launches New Website
The Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network is a collaboration of regional manufacturers, launched by the Greater Peoria EDC to generate new and diverse sales opportunities for this significant regional cluster.  

The network has already generated two successful sales opportunities.  The group is currently in the process of bidding on almost $3 million in new annual sales for an OEM outside our region.

As part of the ongoing marketing effort for the network, we are launching their new website this monthanother tool for our network director Mark Hanback to use while he is out promoting our members and helping to diversify their customer base.  This site will also play a central role in a new lead-generation, inbound marketing campaign currently in development with our partners at IMEC and Strat Marketing Group.

If you think your company would be a good fit for the network, get in touch with Mark to learn more about membership and the benefits of our collective approach to manufacturing business development.   mhanback@greaterpeoriaedc.org
Startup Supports Junior Achievement and Offers Travel Grant
by Randon Gettys, Startup Peoria Coordinator
Startup Peoria is off to a strong start in 2017!  We're trying a lot of new stuff this year and I'm thrilled to report that the community is responding positively. 

We exceeded our attendance goals at our Winter Startup Mixerthe first in a series of mixers to connect the GP startup community.  At that event we announced that Startup Peoria has committed to a  five-year seed funding agreement with Junior Achievement  to launch a youth entrepreneurship program.

Our latest news is the launch of the Startup Peoria Travel Grant . The Startup Travel Grant is for those that need to travel in order to take the next step in growing their business. We want to fund the trip that will help entrepreneurs and startup companies meet with potential investors, suppliers, and customers. Interested entrepreneurs should apply online at startuppeoria.com

OSF Healthcare Opens Their Arms to High School Interns
by Brent Baker, Peoria Pathways Coordinator
Across the country, communities are working to connect high school students to their careers of interest by creating internships. As you may imagine, connecting students to healthcare careers proves something of a challenge, given the various regulations. 

Lucky for us here in Greater Peoria, OSF Healthcare was up for the challenge.  They created internships for high schoolers to explore clinical healthcare careers.  

Through our Greater Peoria Works program, we connected them with students at Peoria Public Schools.  We recently had a chance to catch up with our first two OSF interns.

Amanda and Rochelle, both seniors at Richwoods High School, were curious about pursuing a career in healthcare and were looking for a way to experience potential careers first-hand.  So they jumped at the opportunity. 

"I was really nervous in my interview, but it must have gone okay, because they  offered me the internship!" said Rochelle.  Read the full story here.

Illinois to Help Generate Business Leads 
by Kim Uhlig,  Director of Business Attraction

At the end of January, officials from the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) along with Andria Winters, President of Intersect Illinois , met with the Greater Peoria Attraction Team. 

Intersect Illinois and DCEO are working together to launch a more aggressive marketing and business attraction effort for the state. This meeting was an opportunity to educate both teams on the vast assets in Greater Peoria.   We also had the chance to learn about their 2017 marketing strategy and discuss new ways to collaborate.   Read the full story here.
Do You Have A Project That Could Help Our Regional Goals?
The Greater Peoria EDC will be scoring and prioritizing regional projects to submit to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) for our Focus Forward Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) .  Projects that are included in this document become more eligible for federal funding. 
Projects should be led by a government or nonprofit agency and regional in nature. They should also be aligned to regional goals, supporting business development and job creation, workforce development and attraction, and the improvement of our regional quality of life.  

Project Submission Deadline: April 7, 2017 by Noon

Find more information and an application here. 

The Latest Headlines
Governor Rauner Celebrates New Minority Business Incubator

Scherer Mazda Moves Forward with $1M Expansion

Peoria Pathways to Prosperity Helps Develop Homegrown Talent

Northwoods Mall Gets Redevelopment Incentive

New Research at Peoria's Ag Lab
Mark Your Calendars
February 20 - Girls Excelling in Math and Science - 4 p.m. Morton Public Library
February 21 - Starting a Business in Illinois - 3 p.m. Fondulac Bank
February 23 - Business After Hours - 4:30 p.m. Morton Gold's Gym
February 28 - Greater Peoria Works Employer Seminar - 9 a.m. GPEDC Office
March 1 - 1 Million Cups - 8 a.m. Jump Simulation
March 7 - EPCC Seminar - Advertising Trends for 2017 - 8:30 a.m. Clock Tower Bldg.
March 7 Starting a Business in Illinois - 3 p.m. NEXT Innovation Center
Mondays - 'One-Stop Shop' Business Assistance - 1:30 p.m. Peoria City Hall
Wednesdays-  Open Coworking   9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at The Nest
Track Our Progress
The Greater Peoria EDC has established a five year strategy and measurable goals as part of the Focus Forward Plan. We will be updating our investors and stakeholders each quarter on our progress in achieving the following goals by 2019:

25 interstate firm expansions/retentions by 2019, as measured by our clients
1,000 new high quality jobs created/retained by 2019, as measured by our clients.
T hrough Q4 2016: 23 business expansions, 141 jobs created  

30 new companies created by 2019, as measured by Startup Peoria clients
150 new high-quality jobs created by 2019, as measured by Startup Peoria clients.
Through Q4 2016: 21 startups launched, 27 jobs created

10 new interstate firm locations by 2019, as measured by our clients
750 new high-quality jobs created by 2019, as measured by our clients.
Through Q4 2016: 4 business locations, 130 jobs created  

50% increase in capture rate in targeted jobs by 2019, as measured by our clients
50 apprentices transitioned to full-time employment in our region, as measured by our clients.
Through Q4 2016: 2,125 student career experiences, 12 high school internship placements, 6 apprenticeships filled

30% increase in new hire capture rate, as measured by our clients.
20% improvement in employee retention rate by 2019, as measured by our clients.
Through Q4 2016: 235 newcomers presentation attendees, 2,379  LiveGP.org users, 1,612Live GP postcards distributed 

Look for our full quarterly progress reports in our e-Newsletters and on our website!