Take a bow. By passing the Peoria County Public Facilities Tax, a.k.a. the “Build the Block” funding initiative, you just made Peoria’s dot on the map a lot larger, and solidified our commitment to future generations for a better tomorrow. Last month the voting public spoke, and the decision was made to invest in a legacy project.
I could tell you how the Caterpillar Experience will be an interactive playground for kids of all ages, a lasting tribute to a company we in the Peoria area owe so much, and an attraction that will bypass the John Deere Pavilion in popularity among out-of-town visitors…but I won’t. I could tell you how the state-of-the-art IHSA Peak Performance Center will not only be a tourism draw for basketball fans everywhere, it will also bode well for us as we bid for future IHSA tournaments…but I won’t. I could tell you all about the IMAX Theater, how the nearest one of these technological wonders is in the Quad Cities, and how it will also draw people from near and far…but I won’t. I could tell you how the whole project will be an enormous benefit to:
- Drawing tourists individually and in groups
- Attracting new conventions and sporting events, because people like to do more than just attend a convention or participate in a sporting event while they’re here
- Creating more business for our restaurants, retail stores, hotels, attractions, amusements, gas stations and others
- Creating more hotel, restaurant, amusement, sales and gasoline tax revenue for the Peoria area
- Helping local companies recruit the top talent from around the country to live and work in the Peoria area, thus building the local property tax base
- Create more to do on our beautiful riverfront, especially for families
…but I won’t. And I didn’t even begin to mention the planetarium, the art galleries (made rich by local talent and an exclusive agreement with the Smithsonian Institute to house traveling exhibits), the African-American Hall of Fame, or the interactive children’s discovery area.
Instead, I will tell you other possibilities that have rarely been mentioned. “The Block” sits right on Interstate 74. We at the PACVB have already been talking with our industry colleagues in cities that are also fed by I-74, like Bloomington, Galesburg, the Quad Cities, Champaign and Danville. Our goal is to create a tourist corridor.
Think about it. Anyone interested in the John Deere Pavilion will most likely be interested in the Caterpillar Experience too, and vice versa. Don’t forget Mitsubishi tours in Bloomington. And Galesburg has the rights to build the National Railroad Hall of Fame. (Now it just needs the funding). The Illinois River Encounter that is planned for the Peoria Riverfront Museum is a terrific heritage exhibit chronicling the history of our most valuable resource. It sits right in the middle of our National Scenic Byway, which runs from Ottawa to Havana—through Peoria, East Peoria and Pekin. In short, I would need the pages of this entire publication to talk about all of the possibilities this project creates.
Oh, by the way, I could tell you how all of this will cost the average taxpayer just $17 a year…but I won’t. iBi