Quarterly Progress Report 
Second Quarter 2016
18 months completed of a 60 month strategy

Growing Business. Growing Talent. Growing Communities
Business Expansion and Retention
At 18 months into our strategy, Sally Hanley has assisted 18 employers with expansion projects, generating 126 new jobs in our region. There are currently 12 active expansion projects in the works that we hope will come to fruition in upcoming months. Recent expansion projects include Justcore Properties, Grosenbach's Grocery, and Minonk Bowl.

Our new GP Manufacturing Network, a strategy to assist regional manufacturers with the identification of new and diverse sales opportunities, continues to grow under the leadership of Mark Hanback. Eleven companies have joined the Network to date and we hope to reach 15 by the end of the year. Our partners have been invaluable to this initiative including the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, Illinois Procurement and Technical Assistance Center, and the Illinois SBDC International Trade Center.

Our GP Economic Gardening program for companies with fast-growing potential is providing a national team of experts for four regional employers. We hope to add at least 2 more to the program by the end of this year. We want to thank the team at Bradley University's Turner Center for Entrepreneurship for their partnership in this effort!
Business Startup
Randon Gettys and our Startup Peoria volunteers have supported the launch of 17 new companies in GP over the past 18 months! Those startups have created 17 new jobs and 2 have grown large enough to leave our coworking space, The Nest, for larger commercial spaces. 

And speaking of The Nest, we are continuing to attract incredible new entrepreneurs to cowork with us. This past quarter we had 10 full time members and several office and evening/weekend members building their GP business with the support of our Startup Peoria network.

Our last Keystart Business Pitch Competition awarded a $10,000 equity investment to startup Eat and Evolve thanks to the support of venture capital group Attolo. We are planning for the next event in early 2017.

1 Million Cups continues as a weekly meetup for entrepreneurs throughout the region and has been hosted this month by our friends at Heinold-Banwart. If you haven't attended this high-energy gathering, you will definitely want to stop by. This past quarter we had over 200 attendees.

Business Attraction
The mantra in our office this year for Business Attraction has certainly become "where in the world in Kim Uhlig?"  Earlier this year, Kim traveled to Hannover Messe to promote our region at the world's largest manufacturing innovation trade show. Her efforts have already generated three prospects for our region planning visits this fall and winter. 

Over the past few months, Kim attended a manufacturing show in Winnipeg, Canada and Select USA, an opportunity to meet with international businesses interested in a U.S. presence. She also met with international consulates in Chicago to connect with international prospects.

Next month, Kim is attending a networking event with site-selectors and developers in Atlanta.  Research shows that the very best marketing for business attraction is face-to-face, so Kim's travels are critical if we want to welcome new employers to our region.

Those efforts have already generated a pool of 19 active projects. The additional shows this year should continue to drive that number up and result in some real wins for GP. 

Talent Development
Developing our future workforce is a challenge Kate Cundiff and Brent Baker are tackling along with quite a few incredible partners at the GPEDC. 

Our Peoria Pathways Program, which supports career development at the Peoria Public Schools, has generated 43 internship opportunities for high school students thanks to the support of our regional employers. We are also seeing an increase in the use of Career Cruising, a national, online career development platform provided to our middle and high school students through funding support by our regional Education for Employment (EFE) offices. Our goal is to reach a 75% student usage of Career Cruising in the Peoria Public Schools by the end of 2016 and we are well on the way with a current usage of 60% by 10th graders and 62% by 9th graders.

Our Manufacturing Career Expo for 8th Graders will be held this October at Woodruff Career and Technical Center in Peoria. We anticipate 400 students from districts throughout our region will participate in 9 hands-on activity stations to learn more about manufacturing careers during the event. The following week, regional manufacturers will be hosting over 1,000 high school students for site tours.

Our first in the nation Secure Software Apprenticeship Program will kick off a second year this fall in partnership with Illinois Central College. We are anticipating 7 spots for new apprentices in the program and hope to develop several new apprenticeships in 2017.
Rural Development
Brittany Brown is the newest member of Team GP, but you wouldn't know it by her track record. In the 6 short months she has been with us, Brittany (with some help from our Marketing Director Amanda DeFreese) has helped Roanoke launch a fund raising campaign for a new community center, Mt. Pulaski organize a merchants association, Peoria Heights develop a new housing development strategy, and Hopedale work on the recruitment of a new retailer. Through Brittany's outreach, we have welcomed 8 new communities as investors and partners in the GPEDC. She has certainly brought a great deal of value to our small communities and our regional economic development. 

Regional Indicators
Employment, Labor Force, and Unemployment
  • Greater Peoria Employment Increases in the Second Quarter: Greater Peoria employment at the end of Q2 was 183,688 which was up 533 (.29%) from Q4. Illinois employment decreased .05 percent for this quarter as did the U.S., which decreased .3 percent. Growth sectors that stood out this quarter despite the overall loss included: Leisure and Hospitality (2.35%), Mining, Logging, and Construction (1.26%), and Government (.47%).
  • Regional Unemployment Rate Decreases: The Greater Peoria seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 7.53% in Q1 to 6.7% in Q2. For Illinois, unemployment decreased to 6.2% at the end of Q2. The US unemployment decreased to 4.9%. Greater Peoria's unemployment over the last year has grown 0.99% along with Illinois' increase of .3%. However, the US saw a decrease in unemployment of .6%. These increases in unemployment can be attributed to recent struggles in the manufacturing industry.
  • Labor Force Shrinks Slightly in the Second Quarter: the Greater Peoria labor force shrank by 1,927 in Q2 to 196,278. The labor force has also shrank slightly for the year by 529.
  • Overall Employment Remains Down: Overall employment was up early in the quarter but fell towards the end, and remains down 2,060 since last June.
  • Five Industries Have Grown: Six of the eight major industries saw employment increases from Q1 to Q2.  For the span of a year, five industries have grown.