A Publication of WTVP

"We’re entering into a critical time as the EDC and The Heartland Partnership organizations develop essential community projects like the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center. Local funds are also being called upon to lend strength to the efforts of The Heartland Partnership and its partner organizations as we develop and implement a campaign focused on establishing this region as a competitive force in the global economy. These projects aren’t simply new buildings, descriptive brochures and integral websites. They’re also real projects with real merit, contributing to the future of our economy and the jobs we plan to make available for our children."
-Michael Quine, EDC of Central Illinois

Technology commercialization ventures have access to a new source of venture capital, thanks to the recently established Tri-County Venture Capital Fund. The initiative was designed to bridge the gap between entrepreneurs and equity in the central Illinois region. It will offer investors the opportunity to pool capital and experience with a broader group of qualified investors. The fund, a subsidiary of the Heartland Capital Network, will also provide start-ups with access to a wide array of business services through an established network of select business partners.

  • Congressman Ray LaHood introduced legislation that would create the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area in Illinois.
  • A heart hospital for central Illinois was introduced by OSF Saint Francis Medical Center with co-management provided by HeartCare Midwest.
  • A groundbreaking ceremony took place on May 14th for Excel Crusher Technologies in Pekin.
  • The Interstate 74 renovation project was featured on the cover of Roads & Bridges magazine as one of the top 10 road and bridge projects in the U.S.
  • Cullinan Properties, Ltd. will purchase College Hills Mall in Normal. The retail development will be renamed The Shoppes at College Hills.
  • A groundbreaking ceremony took place on May 20th in Pekin, kicking off construction efforts for the Dragon’s Dome.

"As we move into a new year, several shared trends are facing nonprofit organizations, including an economy struggling to survive a downturn; strained government relations, with social service contracts being awarded to commercial companies; the need to reach donors through new and often costly technologies; the need to provide accountable results through social change; and a shift in the backgrounds of an aging donor base."
-Michael Stephan, Heart of Illinois United Way

Since 1975, the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame has honored men and women who’ve made outstanding contributions to free enterprise and to society. To celebrate these local contributions, Junior Achievement of Central Illinois is establishing the Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame, which kicks off with a black-tie gala on April 30th at the Peoria Civic Center. Laureates include: Louis B. Neumiller, former president of Caterpillar and founder of Junior Achievement in Peoria; William Blackie, Caterpillar Tractor Company; George J. Mecherle, State Farm Insurance; Robert A. McCord, chairman emeritus, Illinois Mutual Insurance Company; Michel McCord, chairman and CEO, Illinois Mutual Life Insurance Company; and David E. Connor, president, David E. Connor and Associates.

Peoria District 150 School Board Member Aaron Schock announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for 92nd District State Representative. The 92nd District incumbent is Democrat Ricca Slone.

The Caterpillar Inc. Board of Directors appointed James W. Owens vice chairman and named him the next chairman and chief executive officer of Caterpillar Inc. He replaces Glen Barton, who elected to retire January 31, 2004, after nearly 43 years of Caterpillar service and five years as chairman and chief executive officer.

Calling the position an "ambassador for the arts in Illinois," Gov. Blagojevich appointed Kevin Stein, an award-winning Bradley University professor, as the state’s fourth poet laureate.

They Said It…
"Our Air National Guard facility at the Greater Peoria Regional Airport [is] jeopardized because of the round of military base closings and realignments set to take place in 2005. Our state has been hit hard in the past…and we can’t afford more closings. I’m calling on our business and community leaders to join the combined effort to save both the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria and the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield. These organizations provide a major economic boost to the economy of central Illinois-more than most people realize."
-Congressman Ray LaHood

"The partisan nature of the process, the hours spent waiting while political jockeying and the one-upmanship are aggravating. When I worked as an engineer, my days were filled with logic and analytical thinking. Now we’re forced to vote on bills we haven’t had time to read. That’s wrong and a disservice to the people we represent."
-State Sen. Dale Risinger

Dr. Peter Johnsen is the new chairman of the board of directors for Peoria NEXT. He takes over for Dr. Donald Rager.

"Three years ago, the Peoria Civic Center Authority and management staff created a strategic plan that stated that the Civic Center will be the place to be in the Midwest. The PCCA committed to find the means necessary to improve our 20-year-old facilities to become the best in the Midwest. C.H. Johnson Consulting was commissioned to create master plan goals and an economic impact study to help us see how to reach our goals.

"The studies proved that the Peoria Civic Center continues to be a significant economic driver for the Peoria area and downtown Peoria in particular. That was the original mission, and the results after 20 years are impressive on all fronts. The study detailed that we currently drive $134 million of economic impact in our area."
-Peoria Civic Center General Manager Debbie Ritschel

"While the Peoria area excels in providing networking opportunities for established businesses, the Regional Bioscience Strategy for Central Illinois, which led to the formation of Peoria NEXT, noted that a major weakness in our community is a lack of a comprehensive entrepreneurial support infrastructure. This finding mobilized us to look at ways to build that support infrastructure. After much research of best practices from other communities, it became clear that one portion of the solution to this issue is to provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to meet together and build supportive relationships with each other.

"The Chamber, the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship [at Bradley University] and HITEC asked us to lead the formation of this opportunity. Entrepreneurs are in the best position to know what will work for their peers, and we’re excited to be in on the ground floor of this effort. Novus-Entrepreneur Network for Central Illinois is being launched this month. Our mission is to foster and facilitate greater entrepreneurial success. It’ll serve as a forum where new, seasoned and aspiring entrepreneurs can meet; brainstorm; learn about new ideas, funding, technologies and resources; and generally support each other."
-David Paul & Jennifer Hoppe, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce