For the past 16 months, the top priority of the CEO Roundtable has been to help “Build the Block.” As of April 7th, our priority has been accomplished. The voters approved the referendum that will allow the Peoria Riverfront Museum, as well as the Caterpillar Experience, to be built.

Congratulations to all supporters of the Build the Block campaign. While it was a close vote, which was expected, it also means the Museum Collaboration Group, along with Caterpillar and now the Peoria County Board, will move forward, with the tremendous excitement both new facilities will bring to the Greater Peoria Region.

Hopefully, the Heartland Partnership, the City and others will begin to identify new opportunities that can emerge now that the “Block” is going to be built. For example, with the Illinois High School Association Hall of Fame, there must be more opportunities to host sporting and academic events. The IMAX Theatre will allow first-run movies, drawing more people downtown. Are there more opportunities for development of lofts and other residential areas in the nearby Warehouse District that would promote urban living, especially for young people starting their careers?

As chairman of the CEO Roundtable, I am very proud of our organization’s efforts as part of the successful collaboration that occurred with Build the Block. In particular, our legislators, Senators Dave Koehler and Dale Risinger, and Representative David Leitch were instrumental in achieving this milestone for Peoria. With passage of the referendum, the potential for additional funds through the State Department of Transportation and/or the federal stimulus package may allow more financial support for the Peoria Riverfront Museum. The CEO Roundtable is committed to working with the Museum Collaboration Group to finalize all of the funding sources that will make the museum financially viable.

It is now time for the CEO Roundtable to move on to the next set of priorities. There are two items we are considering: the first project, already in motion, is tentatively being called “Build the Brand.” We have previously visited a number of cities to learn how they have branded themselves. We are competing in the global economy—how people locally, as well as around the world, perceive Peoria will be critical to our future.

Second, the quality of education is a key driver for the future of the Greater Peoria Area Region. Caterpillar and related manufacturing, the medical community, and Peoria NEXT are such economic drivers that we must ensure that the quality of the education systems in the Greater Peoria Region are meeting the requirements these industries will need to be successful in the globally competitive marketplace. We hope to engage and collaborate with the different levels of education systems in our region in a mutually beneficial manner that will meet our mutual interests.

Assuming these two items are approved as the next priorities of the CEO Roundtable, they will have a huge impact on the development of our region and position us well for the future. iBi