In early December, I received an unexpected but welcome phone call. A staffer for then Governor-Elect Pritzker’s transition team called to ask if I would serve as a member of a committee on the topic of Job Creation and Economic Opportunity. The committee would be charged with helping develop an agenda for the new administration to follow in pursuing the state’s economic development goals. There were a total of forty-four people on the committee that were really quite representative of the state. In addition to fellow Peorian and Peoria County Board member Allen Mayer, the group included representatives from business, trade groups, unions, nonprofits, academic institutions and regional groups like Greater Peoria EDC (you can find a full list here).
The group met three different times to lay out achievable goals and initiatives that we felt met the needs of a state that has really struggled economically over the past decade. To help drive the group work, each member was asked to submit individual ideas and concepts, no matter how bold, that would help move the needle. 

Since I considered myself just a representative of the region, I turned to many of you for your thoughts. In total, I received over 40 emails that I turned into ten “official” idea submissions. These ideas were then collated with other submissions, debated and prioritized. The final report was released earlier this month and I was pleased to see that it was truly reflective of the conversation the committee held. I would encourage you to read the report here.
In February, we hosted our first Morning Mashup, a partnership with the Peoria Area CVB and the CEO Council to better support our HR Recruiters attract and retain talent. Our first event was incredibly well-attended, with over 30 HR partners from over 15 companies.

A second event will be held March 14th at the Gateway Building.
To honor Mason County’s nickname “The Imperial Valley of the Midwest”—due to its high volume of specialty crop production—we are hosting this next Farm Forum in Manito to explore the possibilities of developing a viable, scalable regional value chain for specialty crops. 

When: March 15 • 2-5 p.m
Where: Fergie's Pub & Banquet Center, Manito, IL

We are inviting guests that represent the numerous links in that chain—from production and aggregation, to processing, distribution, institutional purchasing, and hospitality and grocery retail, and emergency food agencies.
CO.STARTERS is a platform to help communities grow local business. This nine-week program equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn business ideas into action.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, or a seasoned entrepreneur looking to launch a new product or service, CO.STARTERS is for you. We've already had a number of early applicants!
Did you know that when you Shop Local an actual person does a little happy dance? For this reason and many more Greater Peoria shops local every season. When a consumer shops locally, a significant amount of their money stays in the community and is reinvested in the well-being and future of where they live. That is why community partners throughout our region are committing to a year-round, regional effort to emphasize the importance of #ShopLocal365.

So, for this Spring season and every other season shift your shopping patterns back to local brick-and-mortar stores.

Check out @ShopLocal365 on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter.
The Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network is proud to announce the addition of a new member, TRIGO-SCSI.

The addition of TRIGO-SCSI will help the Network continue to diversify and strengthen its reach and capabilities.
Governor Pritzker and his transition team established eleven different transition committees, each working to develop strategies on an important area of Illinois’ future.  

Greater Peoria was well-represented with members on 6 of these committees, showing the importance of our region in driving development, improvement, and sustainability throughout the entire state.
An increase in labor force and a favorable job market helped the region continue a trend of favorable economic performance, in the 4th quarter of 2018.

The Composite Index for the Peoria-Pekin MSA reflects local business and economic activity on a seasonally adjusted basis, with an Index score of 100 corresponding to local business conditions in the first quarter of 2010. This report is provided by Bradley University.
Grow Peoria is hosting a workshop next week on the topic of Government Contracting.

When: March 7
Where: Peoria Park District – Noble Center

This is a great opportunity to learn about the potential of growing your business through government contracts. Network with other businesses and meet with purchasing agents from local government.
More Good News in Greater Peoria