A Publication of WTVP

The Peoria Metro has been center stage for Vaudeville, a whiskey capital and a manufacturing mecca. Could the region become a healthcare hotspot next?

Healthcare is THE industry to watch because, with an aging baby boomer population, the need for healthcare services is rapidly increasing. The Peoria Metro has a 50-percent greater impact from healthcare than the typical regional economy, which bodes well for us as healthcare is projected to grow from 16 to 20 percent of the GDP. Today, about one of every seven dollars spent in the economy are health-related.

In the Peoria Metro, healthcare-related employment has increased from 15 percent of total employment in 1990 to over 17 percent in 2007. Bradley University Economist Dr. Joshua Lewer says nationally, the healthcare sectors have increased over twice as fast as the rest of the economy from 1999 to 2008, and wages have increased nearly twice as fast as the national labor market. In 2008, healthcare-related fields were attributed with creating over 500,000 jobs nationwide.

According the U.S. Labor Department, nursing pays more in Peoria. Of the state’s nine metro areas, the Peoria Metro had the second-highest salary for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, with an average of $20.49/hour. (Chicago was No. 1 with an average salary of $21.53. The national average is $19.28.) This provides the Peoria Metro with a competitive advantage over other regions. It gives us an edge in attracting a top-notch workforce for the healthcare industry.

But let’s go a step further and think outside of the box for a moment. When we say healthcare, think beyond doctors, nurses and hospitals. The Peoria Metro has the ability to dive much deeper into this industry. We have amazing research facilities and brilliant minds that are already working on finding the latest and greatest in medical technology. Just look around you. There are companies and people right in our backyard developing new equipment for the medical arena, upgrading our healthcare delivery systems, launching new medical software, finding new medications, and learning new ways to treat existing illnesses…Why couldn’t healthcare be the next big thing for this region? iBi