The Ideal Team Player
We just completed our Q1 Progress Report for 2017. It's hard to believe we are almost 2 1/2 years into our 5 year strategy. Here are a few quick stats for those folks who love metrics:

>24 business expansion projects creating 142 new jobs
>16 manufacturing network members, 6 bid opportunities, and 3 new contracts secured
>5 business attraction projects creating 230 new jobs
>29 startups launched creating 37 new jobs
>22 rural community visits, 7 projects, and 9 technical assistance offerings
>2,045 students introduced to manufacturing careers
>49 high school internships created and 26 high school interns placed

Maybe most importantly, the Greater Peoria EDC has worked hard to create a regional economic development structure and collective impact systems that can leverage dozens of organizations and businesses to generate results. Working within these regional systems can reduce siloed efforts and help our region move the needle on targeted issues in a way no singular entity can ever do on their own.

A commitment to work within systems isn't easy. Sometimes it feels so much easier to do things on your own. Sometimes it is, but it will never achieve the results of a collective path.

An effective systems approach takes leadership, long-term commitment, and strong team players. I had the amazing experience this week of working with our GPEDC Staff members and Steve Stewart, Human Resource Director at Excel Foundry, to complete DISC personality assessments and discuss team culture. During our session, Steve shared a video titled "The Ideal Team Player." It is such a great summary of the 3 qualities that generate success on any team. If you haven't seen it, take the 18 minutes. It will change the way you select employees and volunteers.

We are fortunate to have so many "Ideal Team Players" on Team GP. We shared a short video of selfies during our recent GP Meetup that showcased many of those folks. It, more than anything, sums up the reason the GPEDC is unique and effective. Enjoy!

Jennifer Daly
Greater Peoria Economic Development Council
By Randon Gettys, Startup GP Director
Congratulations to Andrew Hoerr and Wes Hoerr, the founders of Mobile Mount, for their win at the last Keystart Pitch Competition!  They walked away with a $10,000 grant which they will use toward the proof of concept phase of their product, a mountable smartphone holder for stadium seats that doubles as additional advertising space for stadium sponsors.  

We also want to congratulate the four other Keystart cohort members, all of whom made it through the three-week pre-accelerator program, held at The Nest Coworking , and the pitch competition held at Metamora Fields.  Learned Engineering, Small Town Social, Craft Coffee Roaster, and Scious all came to the program with great startup concepts and we want to see them continue to grow.   Read the full story HERE.

Next up is our Spring Startup Mixer on June 15th. We hope to see you there! Register at

by Mark Hanback, GPMN Director
The Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network continues to grow!  We are now 16 members strong after adding our newest members: Philippi-Hagenbuch and Komatsu!  

Not only are we growing our members, but we are also making some connections with key OEMs and first tier suppliers.   Over the last few months we have been working on a significant package of fabrications and piece parts from Wastebuilt Environmental Solutions  They have recently placed orders with our member companies. 

Jim Pfeiffer, Executive Vice President of Wastebuilt Environmental Solutions, recently commented on their engagement with the Network.

"Working with the Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network has been a collaborative effort.  They have done a great job connecting us with world-class potential partners," said Pfeiffer.  "The GPMN-affiliated companies encompass a broad range of capabilities that match perfectly with our manufacturing needs and we would not have discovered them otherwise."

We are also working with a large OEM of specialty truck, material handling equipment and small construction equipment and they have invited some of our members to their Supplier Days later this summer. 

In addition to the interest from these OEMs, we have also engaged StratMG and IMEC in helping us set up an e-Marketing campaign targeted at Specialty Truck, Trailer & Material Handling Equipment along with Oil and Petroleum (non-refinery) Companies.  We are targeting over 3,000 companies with this campaign, which also utilizes our new website

To see how this new Network is helping our manufacturers, check out this new video created for our recent GP Annual Meetup:

For more information or to join the GP Manufacturing Network, connect with Mark Hanback at or 309-495-5921.

by Kim Uhlig, Director of Business Attraction
Last month I was part of the European American Investment Council (EAIC) delegation to Germany that began at the Hannover Messe trade show. There I met with 8 companies and have already received two responses indicating a potential desire to visit our region. 

Our delegation then traveled on to Switzerland where I attended a luncheon with the US Embassy in Zurich. During the event, I met with 8 companies who are looking for new locations in the United States.  Two of these companies have expressed interest in Greater Peoria. 

We also visited a company located near Stuttgart who is looking at entering the US market.  This company is on a fast-track and we have been providing additional information based on those conversations.
Last week, we hosted the EAIC team here in Greater Peoria! They led a Foreign Direct Investment Seminar in East Peoria and then toured assets in our region.  

We want to thank Eric Nieukirk, Caterpillar; James Foley, IL SBDC International Trade Center; Patrick Peonnet, Supply Chain Services International (SCSI); and Erik Brejla, State of IL DCEO for participating in the seminar and panel discussions.
Our friends at Converse Marketing helped us showcase our region during these events with this incredible new video: to Washington, DC for the Select USA Investment Summit where I will reach out to more potential businesses looking for a US location.

For more information about our business attraction efforts, contact Kim Uhlig at
by Kate Cundiff, Director of Workforce Solutions
Imagine the Peoria Civic Center Exhibit Hall filled with hands-on learning experiences that are designed by industry teams to align with their future employment needs.  Imagine the experience of an 8th grader who walks into the expo with only abstract notions of future career options and walks out physically and intellectually activated, with real insights on what industries interest them, what specific careers will be available, and what education is required to get there.
This October, the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council will host the 1st Annual Greater Peoria CareerSpark, an interactive career expo designed to spark the interest of 3,000 students in the 16 national career pathways. 

The expo, led largely by regional employers, will showcase different career fields in our top industry clusters - including manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, agribusiness, IT, and more.
We hope to spark students' curiosity at an early age about career opportunities they may want to pursue, which will set them on the right track for future success.   After the expo, they will have a better understanding of the high school and post-secondary courses they need to take to get into a career field of their choice.
Want to help or get involved? Join the tribe! We are looking for industry co-chairs, as well as industry team members, and sponsors.  Whether you are an employer looking to volunteer or  sponsor, or if you are an educator interested in participating, we want you on our team!

For more info please contact Kate Cundiff, Director of Workforce Solutions, at or call her at 309-495-5959

By Brent Baker, Peoria Pathways to Prosperity Coordinator
It's hard to believe that we've been hard at work on our Peoria Pathways to Prosperity for almost two years! Initially, the Peoria Pathways to Prosperity team had only been anticipating two years of seed funding from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and have been planning accordingly. 

After receiving the initial $65,000 grant in 2015, the Pathways work hit the ground running. In two years we have registered 103 unique Greater Peoria companies in our Greater Peoria Works network - introducing students to the depth and breadth of opportunities in our region - while also connecting over 50 students to internship opportunities at 13 unique employers to explore their careers of interest. It's been a very, very busy two years!

We must have left a great impression, as AFT surprised us two weeks ago by informing us that they would be making another year of funding available for us!  This will not only sustain the work we've begun with Peoria Pathways to Prosperity, but also helps us begin scaling up this work regionally, engaging communities across our five-county region.

We are deeply honored to continue to be recognized by the AFT as a leader in the career-development space and excited for the future success of our region as we begin to expand the Pathways work.

If you are interested in learning more about GP Pathways, or how you can participate, please send questions to Brent Baker at

By Sally Hanley, Director of Business Assistance
I recently visited Premier Storage Systems Iron-A-Way in Morton, along with our Morton economic development partners. We were excited to learn that they will begin producing their newest product Emerg-A-Center at the Morton facility.

Premier Storage Systems will be investing in new machines and equipment for the Morton facility to build the Emerg-A-Center product, and, if the product takes off, there is the possibility to hire additional workers. 

Along with the new product line,  Premier Storage Systems  was recently acquired by CIGNET a significant holding company of innovative products.

We want to congratulate Premier Storage Systems Iron-A-Way on there new expansion. It is always great to learn about the progress being made at our regional businesses!

Learn more about the business assistance programs available in Greater Peoria by contacting Sally Hanley at

By Nathan Davis, Director of Rural Development
At Havana Community Unit District 127, a partnership of public entities, universities and colleges, health care providers, and local private funders has developed a program to encourage high school students to consider a career in healthcare.  

Over the 2016-17 school year, a group of 27 Havana High School students were taken on field trips to hospitals, medical clinics, and medical research institutions throughout the region.  The goal of these field trips was to expose students to opportunities within the healthcare field of which students may be unaware. 

This program is an excellent example of the outcomes that arise when area partners work together on community development projects.  I would like to particularly emphasize the great work of Havana's Economic Development Coordinator Ron Hills and University of Illinois Extension's Kathie Brown for envisioning, creating, and rolling out this great program.  Read more about the program HERE.

We at the GPEDC will continue to be advocates for programs that expose students to our region's critical careers, as well as partnerships that pursue regional goals.

Learn more about rural development in Greater Peoria by contacting Nathan Davis at
Thank you very much to everyone that made it out to the 2017 GP Meetup!  We had lots of fun, ate lots of mac & cheese, and shared our progress, current programs, and future goals.

Congrats to Denise Moore 
and Judy Dietrich, the winners of this year's Team GP Great Partner Awards!  Thank you for your outstanding contributions to regional economic development.  Our efforts take partners hips and collaboration, and we thank all of our regional partners for their dedication to the work!

CLICK HERE to check out a couple videos about the winners that we played at the event!  Thank you to our board members Mark Spenny and Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey for presenting the awards.

If you attended, take a moment to fill out our quick survey so we can make next year's Meetup even better!
Ashley Taylor is the Assistant Director for the CEO Council, a nonprofit comprised of over 65 regional business and community leaders who share a common interest in developing the Greater Peoria region as a great place to work and live.  

Ashley oversees communications, project management, and administrative efforts for the organization.  She also participates in numerous committees and strategy teams with partner organizations.

"We want to move the needle forward on initiatives and look for partners in everything we do," she said.  "We are doing what we can to foster growth."

Ashley is also an active member of YPGP, the Young Professionals Organization of Greater Peoria, and helped in securing the 2013 All-America City Award for Peoria.

"Peoria is a great place for young professionals to work," she said.  "You are allowed to get involved.  In Peoria you are seen as an asset."

The GPEDC also sees Ashley as an asset, and we look forward to continuing to work with her and the CEO Council to further our collective impact strategies for economic development!

Learn more about the CEO Council by contacting Ashley Taylor at

Do you have any interns at your company this summer?  Make sure they know about the summer-long series of GP Intern Mixers!  

Every Thursday in June and July an area business is hosting a mixer to help interns network, learn about career opportunities, and prepare for post-graduation.  Each mixer will be followed by an afterparty where participants can continue socializing with their intern peers.

Interns can RSVP for the events at
For more info contact Kate Cundiff at

We Want to Thank These GPEDC Investors for their Support!

The Latest Headlines
Morton Buildings becomes employee owned, plans expansion
Caterpillar hiring fair looks to fill 200 production jobs
ATS brings training to clients to build a better workforce
For Morton company, the future of driverless cars is almost here
Entrepreneurial family has a nose for business, and fragrances
Natural Fiber Welding looks to put Peoria on the textile map
Peoria-based Global Hemp sees economic potential with industrial hemp
Swing beds program helping rural areas
Health career expo at Methodist College
Mark Your Calendars
May 25 - Business After Hours - 4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Embelish Hair Design
May 30 - Email Marketing Workshop for Businesses - 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. - East Peoria
June 3 - 2017 YPN Homebrew Competition - 11 a.m. - 4 pm. - Downtown Lincoln
June 6  -   Starting a business in Illinois  - 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. NEXT  Innovation Center
June 7 -  Open Coworking  -  9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at The Nest
June 8 - Business After Hours - 4:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Peoria County Farm Bureau
June 15 - Startup Mixer - 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. - GAR Hall
Mondays - One-Stop Shop' Business Assistance - 1:30 p.m. Peoria City Hall
Thursday in June & July - GP Intern Mixers - 5:30 p.m. -9:30 p.m. - Various Locations
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 Q1 2017: 24 business expansions, 142 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 Q1 2017: 29 startups launched, 37 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 Q1 2017: 5 business locations, 230 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 Q1 2017: 2,125 student career experiences, 26 high school internship placements, 49 internships created

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 Q1 2017: 235 newcomers presentation attendees, 2,855 users, 2,000 Live GP booklets distributed 

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