"Once we get ‘em here, it’s usually an easy sell." "People are always surprised at how much bigger and more cosmopolitan Peoria is than they thought it was." "They’ve heard of Peoria … but too often it’s for the wrong reasons."

These all-too-familiar refrains have crossed the lips of many local executive recruiters, developers and business leaders faced with the immense challenge of attracting high quality talent and new business investment to the Peoria area. Call it an inferiority complex. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Think of it what you will, but make no mistake that we continue to have a lingering image challenge that is quite real.

Those who make their livelihood in the Peoria area—and who must be able to sell Peoria as a great place to live and do business—must routinely try to overcome inaccurate perceptions of a region that is less sophisticated, less diverse, and certainly less progressive than it really is. We hear examples all the time.

A trend that started during the tight labor market of the mid-1990s continues today. For many of Peoria’s bedrock companies to have the capacity to grow and expand here, they increasingly need to go outside the area for employees. And while we sometimes think of the Peoria area as an island unto itself, it’s a mindset that must change soon if we are truly going to be able to compete with similar, mid-sized metro areas for new jobs, new businesses, new retail establishments, and for federal and state support. The upside: the attraction of new residents, their spouses and families will contribute to an expanded population base—and all of the inherent benefits that come with it.

It’s time to intensify and accelerate our efforts to market and promote Peoria. We are once again building steam. The incredible strides this region has made from measurable economic diversification to prospects for growth in the biotechnology sector is largely unknown to an important audience outside the area, and even to many who live here.

Whose job is it to market the area? It’s readily apparent that we cannot always look to the public sector as our only leadership in marketing this area. Local companies that are the backbone of the region and have the most at stake to ensure theirs is a vibrant forward-thinking community realize they need to put their resources behind a rejuvenated effort to boost the region’s visibility and make the sell a little easier.

"Peoria… An All-American City." "Surprising Peoria." "Forward Peoria."

These slogans were worthy symbols of Peoria’s economic revival and marketing success. It’s time for something new. The stories of the Peoria area’s progress need to be invigorated and expanded. We think we can help. As publishers of InterBusiness Issues we are proud to launch Peoria Progress, a new bi-annual publication devoted to delivering timely news and information on business development, growth and our strategic assets. Not just in Peoria, but in the growing communities that surround Peoria as well. Our focus on quality of life and our many amenities will support the efforts of local companies to bring the best and brightest here, to attract new retail and commercial development. Stories of business growth, technology, medical, tourism, shopping, arts and culture, sports, and housing are presented in a professional package that truly reflects Peoria’s emergence as a prime second-tier market—and potential for further growth.

You’ll be surprised at our progress—we’ve been promoting ourselves in central Illinois for 13 years—now we’ve designed a resource to show those outside our community why we believe in Peoria. IBI