The Heartland Partnership and its family of companies are devoted to increasing and sustaining the prosperity of central Illinois, and it is harnessing its position of leadership to accomplish this task. Whether through endeavors that facilitate collaboration or individual action, the Heartland Partnership, as a leader in our region, is dedicated to improving our business climate, regional image and community vibrancy.
As a regional leader, the Heartland Partnership (H-P) works to develop an environment of open collaboration in its goal of bettering central Illinois. The H-P consists of several member companies, including the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois (EDC), the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Peoria NEXT and TransPORT. Collaboration among these firms and their employees allows the H-P to work as a cohesive unit for the development of the Illinois Heartland. With a common goal, these companies can focus on their individual objectives and still be certain that they are an important cog in the development process with its sister companies. For instance, the EDC can focus on recruiting and retaining individual businesses and trust that the Peoria Area Chamber is working to develop a business climate that leads to success for firms both large and small.
In a larger sense, the Heartland Partnership works to facilitate collaboration among the community as a whole. As a public-private consortium, it brings together representatives from government, all sectors of private business, education, nonprofits, and even the arts. Through its myriad companies and dozens of initiatives, the Heartland Partnership gathers community leaders together and encourages the sharing of ideas. In this way, the H-P acts a bit like open-source software— through its efforts, it intends to gather the best of the best to improve a constantly changing product.
One example of such collaborative leadership is the CEO Roundtable. By assembling area business leaders, this endeavor garners top ideas from top minds in the region, which dramatically benefits the business community and the region as a whole. The CEO Roundtable has recently focused its efforts on the Build the Block campaign, giving the downtown initiative a great deal of momentum through media coverage and increased funding. Through the facilitation of collaborative leadership, the Heartland Partnership is supporting a project that will augment business strength and enrich the community.
The strategy groups of the Economic Development Council are additional examples of leadership through collaboration. The 11 strategy groups each focus on a unique comparative advantage of central Illinois, and each industry displays a great deal of promise based on prevailing projected economic trends. Specifically, these industries are technology commercialization, intermodal logistics, healthcare services, energy, agri-business and agri-science, the visitor-based economy, retail, specialized manufacturing, professional and technical services, and global trade. Additionally, there is a strategy group for Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).
Each group is comprised of volunteer members who represent a wide variety of interests in their field, including managers, lawyers, bankers, educators and public figures. By gathering such diverse individuals with common interests, the Heartland Partnership is leading an effort to improve the business environment. Through the strategy groups, ideas are exchanged freely and common goals are established, reducing costs through the sharing of resources and information and improving business through mutually beneficial initiatives.
The Heartland Partnership also leads by developing new and young talent in our region. The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and its Community Leadership School develop central Illinois’ leaders for tomorrow. The Leadership School presents an opportunity to engage pressing issues that face our community, and its graduates leave with an increased understanding of what it takes to be a leader here.
The Young Professionals Organization of Greater Peoria (YPOGP) is another Chamber program that offers networking and learning opportunities to our region’s young talent. Through social events and professional development activities, YPOGP offers valuable insights about business and gives voice to the individuals who will shape our community in the years to come. Additionally, the Heartland Partnership family of companies maintains an intern program that provides practical educational experience to our college students. H-P interns are given a great deal of responsibility, collaborating with full-time employees to complete meaningful projects.
Political leadership is another component, and the Chamber has long been engaged in local and state politics, advocating for legislation and referenda beneficial to the business community. For instance, it has come out against the November ballot initiative regarding a possible constitutional convention in the State of Illinois and in favor of public funding for the riverfront museum project. Similarly, the Peoria Area Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) works to engage politics directly, providing financial support to candidates at the local and state levels who represent the best interests of business in our region. With a board independent of the Chamber, the PAC carefully interviews the candidates in races of local interest before pledging support to individual nominees.
Leadership is a key ingredient of growth. It is clear that the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois is a leader in its efforts at business growth, retention and expansion. Similarly, Peoria NEXT is a leader in its work supporting innovative new firms, TransPORT is a leader in initiatives related to trade and logistics and the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce leads the community through its advocacy for the business community.
What is less evident, however, are the ways that the Heartland Partnership is a leader of the community on a larger scale. Through collaborative efforts, it gathers top minds and important investors for the benefit of central Illinois. With an emphasis on education, the H-P helps to groom the future leaders of our region. Finally, it engages political advocacy to lead our region into greater prosperity and growth. Quite simply, the Heartland Partnership is dedicated to the betterment of central Illinois, and it relies on its position as a leader in several facets of public life to make that mission a reality. iBi