A Publication of WTVP

Earlier this year, local news outlets carried a report of another change in the Peoria business landscape. Creatas, a New York-based start-up, purchased Dynamic Graphics. Dynamic Graphics, a producer of electronic art for the publishing industry, has been a Peoria mainstay for many years, employing 120 and helping pioneer technological advancements in the publishing industry.

What does this latest acquisition in an increasing number of Peoria Area businesses that have been purchased by corporations headquartered outside the region mean? Does the sky fall when ownership changes? Does this trend create cause for concern, reason for celebration, or both? Concern arises when we speculate how the new owners will change the status quo. But shouldn't it really be a cause for celebration as we congratulate management and employees for creating value and success worthy of acquisition-and reason to anticipate future growth in the area?

The nature of business today suggests that corporate consolidation and takeovers are inevitable. Last year alone, 9500 deals worth $1.3 trillion were announced in the U.S. Be it good or bad, it represents the reality of our globally competing world and central Illinois today. It is a fact of life, but what should we do? While perhaps there is no reason to cry "the sky is falling", there is an opportunity and need for our economic development, civic and business leaders to re-examine the role that local business ownership plays in our economy. There is also an opportunity to examine how new relationships can best be established and nurtured with new owners from outside our area who have acquired local businesses. 

What actions should we take to best position our community for whatever the future may bring? We already know the answers, but how do we measure up and who is-or should be-in charge to see that it's done? Creating and maintaining a solid business climate where business costs are reasonable, skilled workers are available, a rich and diverse quality of life exists, excellence is represented in all levels of education with first class transportation to and from the region all make good sense. All will help to ensure that regardless of where ownership resides, it makes good business sense for existing businesses to stay here and for new businesses to start or relocate here. Which organizations and which governmental bodies are responsible for creating that desired environment? How are they (we) working together?

But beyond the challenge of understanding, managing and supporting new relationships with new outside owners, we need to continue to grow our own. How do we best expand an environment that supports entrepreneurship and enables small ideas hatched here to become even bigger ones here? A model already exists in the ag/bio-tech sector. Exciting research on uses for locally grown agricultural products takes place each day at the National Center for Agriculture Utilization Research-and the University of Illinois College of Medicine's Vision 20/20 is building on the same concept. It has long been thought by many that Peoria could do a better job capturing the opportunities to commercialize the research discovered here. The concept seems logical. Research it here, process it here, market it here and the economic benefits and recognition stays here too.

Our challenge is to create a business climate where existing businesses want to stay and new businesses want to relocate in our community-no matter where the ownership resides. We should embrace new ownership and/or management as eagerly as we should recruit new business to the area. A positive, welcoming inclusive business atmosphere can encourage local entrepreneurs and nurture the community loyalty of those new to the Peoria area. We need to ensure that we continue to develop resources to enable businesses to be successful-and want to stay. We can capitalize on the opportunities. IBI