A Publication of WTVP

On page 31, you'll find the nomination form for the annual 40 Leaders Under Forty. It goes without saying that those who will make this year's list-along with those who were selected in the past-are important to this area's future.

Around the country, cities are putting heavy emphasis on attracting and retaining these young, energetic, and often entrepreneurial people. And well they should! It's precisely the attributes these professionals embody that keep communities vibrant and attractive.

This is the 11th year CIBP has sponsored this annual recognition program. Simple math reveals that some previous winners have by now reached the magic 5-0 in age. Several friends brought that fact to my attention. In a half-joking manner, they said, "Maybe you should do a '50 Leaders Over 50.'"

Interesting point, to be sure. But when I think of the difficulty we have in narrowing the pool under 40s to just 40, I cringe to think of the challenge looking at the 50-somethings in the community and then coming up with just 50.

The process would be tough because that's the decade when people truly are the leaders of the community. From business to politics to government to charitable and non-profit organizations, those in their 50s are steering the ship.

Nonetheless, the conversations started me thinking. Maybe another real need for recognition-and possibly concern-are those in their 60s. Those are the folks who spent their careers here, raised their families here, and, hopefully, choose to continue living here. They constitute a resource that, while certainly not untapped, could provide a greater contribution to the area.

Today, they serve on boards, volunteer, and contribute to the quality of life here. They do so without fanfare and without concern for how their service would affect their career. At a point in life where they appreciate the value of time, they continue to give time to the community.

Peoria isn't unlike so many other areas in the country-racing full bore to attract and retain young professionals. Certainly, those are valuable goals, worthy of the time and effort they receive. But I'm beginning to notice, both in conversations and articles in various publications, that there's more and more attention paid to putting similar emphasis on retirees.

Makes sense. The high end of Baby Boomers is now best classified as being in late 50s rather than mid-50s. Many have already retired, and it doesn't take the proverbial rocket scientist to see a big wave coming over the next few years.

Where will they live? Where will they spend their money? What will they do? Will the organizations in their city of choice seek them out and tap the wealth of knowledge and experience they have?

Communities are starting to ask these questions, but the answers remind me of John Kennedy's famous answer to a "What have you done…" question. He said simply: "Well, I'm sure we haven't done enough."

That's probably true here. Not all retirees have been respected and embraced. Some organizations seem to shun that group, opting instead for the currently employed and the potential company contributions they may be able to attract.

It's a shame. There are people who spent their lives here, who are dedicated to the area, who have ideas to share, and who have the time to contribute.

Maybe it's time we all take a closer look at what we're doing. We'll give special recognition to 40 Leaders Under Forty in November. And while we're thanking our young leaders, let's acknowledge all leaders in central Illinois who make our area a great place to live and work. IBI