Three years ago, two incredible leaders, Bill Blessman and Diana Hall, agreed to Chair partnering organizations in our region. Bill, Administrator for Mason County, stepped up to lead the EDC for Central Illinois and Diana, Owner of Bard Optical, the newly formed Focus Forward Central Illinois. Both have contributed countless hours to our regional economic development efforts. Through their leadership, two entities were brought together to form the Greater Peoria EDC, a central and united strategy was generated, over 1,000 individuals were invited to partner, and economic success was reimagined for our region. 

In January, Bill officially became the Past Chairman of the Greater Peoria EDC and Diana agreed to serve as our new Chairman. I want to take a moment to express my deep gratitude to Bill for his outstanding service to our organization and all of the special communities we serve. Bill's quiet leadership, sense of humor, passion for our rural communities, and his commitment to collaboration played a critical role in creating the GPEDC that exists today. Many people have said to me that Bill was exactly what our organization needed during a time of intense transition. He was certainly what I needed as CEO to navigate some pretty complex challenges.

Bill recently expressed to me that he was going to be a little sad to leave his role. I shared that being a Past Chairman is a bit like becoming a new grandparent. You did the heavy lifting and now you get to sit back, support and guide as needed, and (most importantly) spoil the grandkids!

Jennifer Daly
Greater Peoria Economic Development Council
Please help us welcome the newest leadership at the Greater Peoria EDC:

2017 Officers of the Board
Chairman Diana Hall, Bard Optical
Vice Chairman Michael Hinrichsen, Woodford County Board
Treasurer Songo Dede, DSM-H
Secretary Don Forrest, Farnsworth Group
Past Chairman Bill Blessman, Mason County 

2017 New Board Members
Stan Glazier, Woodford County Board
Don Johnson, Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois
Dr. Sheila Quirk-Baily, Illinois Central College
Chuck Ruben, Logan County Board
Ryan Spain, OSF Healthcare
John Sutherland, River City Construction 
Rick Swan, East Peoria Chamber of Commerce
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

Informational Meetings:  February 9th at the GPEDC.  Two sessions will be held: 7:30 - 8:30 am and 4:30 - 5:30 pm

More information including an application.
Startup Peoria is trying some new stuff in 2017 to better serve our region's entrepreneurs and investors - the business builders and job creators.
The  Winter Startup Mixer is the first of three  mixer events that will connect local entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, service providers, and others. We want to engineer connectivity within the Greater Peoria startup community, while having a good time doing it!

We'll have snacks, drinks, good music, and good vibes.  And t o accommodate entrepreneurial families with children ages 4-12, we've partnered with  Peoria PlayHouse to provide an engaging "kids zone" onsite!

Randon will unveil Startup Peoria's new programs for 2017 during the event, but mostly there will be time for the attendees to connect with each other and strengthen the startup community.

The Winter Startup Mixer will he held on January 26, from 7-9pm, at the GAR Hall in downtown Peoria.  
A ticket is $10, which not only goes to snacks, drinks, and music, but a bit goes to the historical preservation of the GAR Hall. If you would like to take advantage of the kids zone, a child's ticket is $5.  You can register here.

Questions? Contact Sarah at or 309-495-5954.

At the end of 2016 the CEO Council approved the transition of their  Greater Peoria Works - Work Experience Program to the GPEDC to continue as a key component of   Greater Peoria Pathways, a program working to create a regional framework for career development for middle and high schoolers.

With this transition, the GPEDC is now connecting a network of 99 employers, 108 virtual Career Coaches, and 396 Career Development Opportunities (internships, job shadows, tours, etc.) to Peoria Public Schools students. Through the GP Pathways program, we will be working over the coming year to plan the rollout of this network to our Greater Peoria partner communities.
If you are interested in offering internships and/or job shadow opportunities to high school students, please attend one of our Greater Peoria Works  informational sessions, held on the 4th Tuesday of the month at the GPEDC offices, 100 SW Water Street, from 9 - 10 a.m. You can register here.

For more information, please visit
If you are interested in learning more about our Greater Peoria Pathways initiative, please contact Kate Cundiff at 

by Kate Cundiff,  Director of Workforce Solutions
Last year, we launched our Live GP program to help employers recruit and retain
talent from outside the region. This year, by working closely with our friends at the CEO Council and Peoria Magazines, Live GP is evolving into so much more! 

We most recently partnered wit h Peoria Magazines to design a Live GP booklet our
employers can give to new recruits. This booklet has everything newcomers need to know about the area - from places to live and send their kids to school to trailing spouse support and ways they can get involved in the community.  

These booklets will  be available for use by any GPEDC Investor beginning February 1.

We are starting the year off strong and looking forward to working on these major Live GP projects in 2017:
  • Virtual Job Fair allowing our regional HR Professionals to recruit talent from the comfort of their offices - No travel expenses required!
  • Concierge Service providing personalized one-on-one tours for your top candidates and their families coming in from out-of-town.
  • GP Newcomer Event to welcome all of the newest members into the Greater Peoria family.
  • GP Alumni Event to take place later this year around the holiday season to attract people who used to live in GP and want to bring their talent back home!

If you are an employer and want to participate in any 2017 Live GP projects, contact Kate Cundiff at
by Kim Uhlig,  Director of Business Attraction
Last year, our goal in Business Attraction was to get out and meet with targeted site selectors and manufacturers to generate leads for Greater Peoria. Over the year, we:
  • Met with over 37 Site Selectors while in Nashville, Atlanta, and Chicago.
  • Attended three manufacturing trade shows:  Hannover Messe in Germany, Centralia in Winnipeg, Canada, and the International Manufacturing Technology show in Chicago.
  • Had a booth at the SelectUSA Summit in Washington, DC. Attended by hundreds from over 80 countries.
  • Met with 13 Foreign Consulate offices in Chicago and attended the Midwest Japanese American Conference in St. Louis.
Our efforts have generated 9 leads and we hope several will become viable projects for GP in 2017.
But, of course, our team wants even more opportunities! With that in mind, we will be adopting several new and better tools that should leverage our limited resources by allowing us to be more targeted in our attraction marketing.  

The 2017 plan includes membership in the European American Investment Council (EAIC), utilizing sophisticated lead generation tools from OCO Velociti and HubSpot, engagement with Intersect Illinois to increase awareness of our region's assets at the state level, and developing local ambassadors to leverage our community's networks to help us connect with businesses across the country and all over the world.   Read the full story here.
by Nathan Davis, Director of Rural Development
This morning, as most mornings, I woke up and checked Facebook.  Shortly thereafter, I sent a couple emails, asked my Echo for today's weather, played some music through Spotify, paid a bill online, and read the morning news on my phone.  For these tasks, as with many of the tasks I have in my daily life, I needed the internet.

The omnipresence of the internet means that economic developers must consider the importance of broadband connection when making development decisions.
Problems of internet accessibility, affordability, and speed exist in the rural areas of all five of our counties in Greater Peoria.  Filling these needs requires identifying areas where need exists, locating providers that can fill that need, and utilizing funding resources.  

Over the past couple of months, I have been working with private broadband providers and public officials in Mason, Tazewell, and Woodford Counties, who understand the need for broadband, to identify the best means to expand access to uncovered and underserved areas.  Together we are developing strategies to fill broadband needs in rural areas.    Read the full story here.
as reported by Chris Kaergard,

Gov. Bruce Rauner s igned into law a one-year extension of the River Edge tax credit that provides incentives for renovating historic buildings - including the city's Murray Building and the Cornerstone Building that houses Obed & Isaac's Microbrewery - in five Illinois communities.
The legislation, a compromise over a long-term extension, is one of the few such incentives to receive renewal during a protracted budget stalemate. It received nearly unanimous bipartisan approval in the Legislature during the brief fall session, something area lawmakers attributed to a strong push on both sides of the aisle.
The credit, which is applicable for work done in Peoria, Rockford, Elgin, Aurora and East St. Louis, is credited with creating a $10 return for every $1 of credit.
"The state historic tax credits have been the driving force for redevelopment in Peoria," Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said in a statement.   Read the full story here.

City of Peoria
Peoria County
Tazewell County
UnityPoint Health - Peoria
West Central Illinois Building-Construction Trades

OSF HealthCare
City of Pekin
Bradley University
Central Illinois Business Publishers
City of East Peoria
City of Washington
Excel Foundry
Gene Haas Foundation
JPMorgan Chase Bank
Mason County
Peoria Metro New Car Dealers Association
PNC Bank Foundation
Woodford County

Advanced Technology Services
Bard Optical
Busey Bank
CGN & Associates, Inc.
CORE Construction
Cullinan Properties LTD
Farnsworth Group
First Mid Illinois Bank & Trust
G&D Integrated
Heart Technologies
Heartland Bank and Trust Company
Illinois Central College
Illinois Department of Commerce
Logan County
Midstate College
Morton Community Bank
River City Construction
Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Weaver
Advanced Medical Transport
City of Chilicothe
City of Delevan
City of Elmwood
City of Eureka
City of Havana
City of Lincoln
City of West Peoria
Commerce Bank
DSM-H Consulting
Durre Brothers
Envision Insurance Group
Goodwill of Central Illinois
Heart of Illinois United Way
Heinold Banwart
Human Services Center

Illinois American Water
Kemp Manufacturing
Metamora Industries
Morton Economic Development Council
Premier Fabrication
Quality Metal Products, Inc.
RL Lewis
Sandvik Coromant
SMF, Inc.
Verizon Wireless
Village of Germantown Hills
Village of Hopedale
Village of Peoria Heights
Village of Roanoke

Pekin Hospital is Now a UnityPoint Affiliate

Schettler named director of Peoria Promise

PIA Adds Nonstop Flight to Destin, Florida

OSF HealthCare contributes $750,000 toward Peoria med school expansion

New 9,100-square-foot building in Glen Hollow to House Eatery and Prompt Care

Former Mitsubishi Plant Now Owned by Rivian Automotive

Peoria Ranks #5 for Millenial Homeownership
January 26 -  Winter Startup Mixer  7-9 p.m. at GAR Hall

February 1 - 1 Million Cups - 8-9 a.m. at  Jump Trading

February 8 -    Starting Your Business in Illinois  3-6 p.m. at Peoria Next Innovation

February 9 - Business After Hours 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Bradley University

February 11 - The Business of Art 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Life Together Center

Open Coworking 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at The Nest
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 Q3 2016: 18 business expansions, 126 jobs created, 291 jobs retained  

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 Q3 2016: 17 startups launched, 21 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 Q3 2016: 3 business locations, 63 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 Q3 2016: 690 career expo attendees, 6 apprenticeships filled            

Improve employee retention rate by 20% by 2019, as measured by our clients.
Through Q3 2016: 210 newcomers presentation attendees

30% increase in new hire capture rate, as measured by our clients.
Through Q3 2016: 1,887 users

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