Sure, “defense is the best offense” is quite the sports cliche, but it is time tested. And it is true for more than just sports. In the economic development world, we need to be just as sharp on defense as we are on offense. In 1987, Daniel Birch wrote one of the seminal works in economic development: “Job Creation in America: How Our Smallest Companies Put the Most People to Work.” In it, Birch argues that up to 80% of net new job growth is generated by existing businesses. (In fact, that statistic is used so much in our industry that I could not remember the source.) I often remark that Caterpillar was once just a small tractor company in East Peoria. They found a home here, rooted themselves, developed great talent or attracted it, and spread their wings. Decades later, they have a giant footprint across the world and here in our region.
While business attraction efforts often garner a great deal of public, political and media attention, we know how important it is to ensure that the businesses already making Greater Peoria their home are thriving and growing. Working with existing businesses is one of our core missions. Actually, we don’t take a defensive stance towards our existing businesses -- we go on offense to ensure they have what they need.

We are lucky to have one of the best in the industry in Sally Hanley who has met with thousands of businesses over the course of her career, though Sally would be the first to tell you that economic development is a team sport comprised of many teammates who all contribute to a win.
On March 15th, our GP Farm Forum series continued with an event at Fergie’s Pub & Banquet Center in Manito. With over 40 attendees—including many farmers, agriculture organizations and more—some lively and thoughtful discussions were formed around the Forum’s theme of building a more robust regional food supply chain.

The concept was to bring together people that represent the numerous links in the chain. It was great to see people making connections and sharing their ideas, as well as challenges in scaling up the production and purchasing of local-regional foods.
Our thanks to Lincoln Office and i3 Broadband for recent in-kind donations to The Nest. Lincoln Office donated over $10,000 worth of office furniture to help greatly improve the offerings and aesthetics of our co-working space. This donation has allowed us to offer “dedicated desks” to Nest members who want a space within the office to call their own.

i3 Broadband recently increased the speed of the internet service available in the space at no cost. The Nest now has some of the fastest internet speeds in the region. Comfortable and stylish furniture, super high speed internet, and a great co-working community.
Become a vital part of the economic future of Greater Peoria. We are seeking a Director of Business Attraction to advance job growth strategies and efforts for a five-county region in Central Illinois.

GPEDC spearheads community-led efforts to retain, attract, grow, and create new businesses, harnesses the advantages of our rural and urban assets, and develops a world-class workforce.
Members of the Greater Peoria Attraction Team (GPAT) met with 8 site selectors on a recent Attraction Blitz, introducing the Greater Peoria Region to St. Louis developers. The City of Peoria, Morton, and Washington were able to showcase specific sites for industrial opportunities.
On March 14th, we hosted our second Morning Mashup, a partnership with the Peoria Area CVB and the CEO Council to better support our HR Recruiters attract and retain talent. This event was hosted at the Gateway Building in Peoria. Once again, we had a great turnout and even better discussion.

We were also excited to unveil print versions of new Greater Peoria attraction guide at this Mashup. Copies are available for request or digital download at
This workshop will provide a tangible road map, with technical assistance directions, to guide you toward your goal of a sustainable community garden.

When: Monday, April 8, 2019, 9-11 AM
Where: Peoria City/County Health Department Conference Room

Bill Davison, Extension educator, local food systems and small farms will share the practices and experiences in planning for a bountiful harvest from your community garden. He has worked with countless partners and communities with the primary goal of building and strengthening local foods production. 
From the Boys’ championship weekends alone, the CVB estimates March Madness brings in over $2 million in revenue and over 10,000 visitors to the region.

As many local businesses could tell you, this is one of the busiest and most lucrative months of the year. The economic impact is not the only factor to consider though. It’s also a uniting force in our region, attracting an army of basketball-loving volunteers.
More Good News in Greater Peoria