A Publication of WTVP

Congratulations to InterBusiness Issues for again focusing on a single critical topic impacting our area. This issue’s concentration on technology couldn’t be more appropriate when you step back to see what’s happening in Peoria.

If cities had middle names, “technology” could be ours!

Last month witnessed the groundbreaking for the long-awaited museum block featuring Caterpillar’s Visitor Center and the Peoria Riverfront Museum. This entire project is about technology, whether it be Caterpillar’s world-leading pursuit of excellence in machinery and engines or the high-tech planned exhibits of the museum.

This $140 million investment in Peoria’s future is built on technology. And as I think about all of the other developments underway or planned around our Main Street Corridor—from the river to Western Avenue—they are based on technology in design, construction and function. We have over one billion dollars of development approved and underway, and more will occur as a result of these exciting projects. Let’s take a walk from the river to Bradley University and check out all the action.

I’ve already mentioned the museum block and Caterpillar Experience. Once these projects are underway, there is no doubt in my mind that commercial, retail and other developments will follow. Right on the heels of the museum groundbreaking is the Hotel Père Marquette-Marriott Hotel project that will inject another $102 million into the economy by construction alone. This tremendous development will bring all forms of technology into the completely renovated Père and new Marriott Hotel and serve as a catalyst for other Main Street improvements, from Washington Street right up to the College of Medicine and the Methodist and OSF medical centers.

In August, ground was broken for a new $10 million cancer center at the College of Medicine. This public-private partnership initiative will dramatically add to Peoria’s reputation as a top medical hub, and complement the huge investments being made by our two leading medical centers. Cancer research is all about technology.

Along Main Street and extending to Knoxville, Methodist Medical Center is in the midst of a multi-year $350 million campus replacement plan. Technology is at the heart of this project, not only in health diagnosis and medical treatment, but in all dimensions of design and construction. This development will also embody a lot of new “green” technology in landscaping and architectural design.

Completing the tremendous expansion of Peoria’s technology-based health services is the recently opened, state-of-the-art OSF Saint Francis Medical Center/Children’s Hospital of Illinois facility. The building itself—not to mention all of the truly high-tech features inside—is design technology at its best. Added to other announced OSF Saint Francis Medical Center projects, such as the Jump Trading Simulation and Conference Center, we have over $305 million in construction completed or planned.

Continuing our walk up Main Street, we come to the $13.5 million Peoria NEXT Innovation Center. This project is all about technology in terms of developing new businesses, conducting research and education on a host of business management, marketing and training issues. Peoria NEXT also demonstrates the business and educational partnerships that are remaking and recharging entrepreneurial initiatives all over the country. The organization combines the resources and energies of Bradley University and The Heartland Partnership and demonstrates their continuing commitment to Peoria’s future.

A few more blocks up is the $20 million Main Street Commons project of 88 residential units and commercial space. The design and construction are high-tech, but more than that, demonstrate how one development spurs additional investment. Main Street Commons is very much a part of Bradley University’s positive impact on Peoria.

What about Bradley University? What an outstanding asset for the entire state, and especially Peoria. The university’s $150 million Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance is remarkable from any standpoint. It is all about the very best in design, construction and function.

Bradley’s Renaissance involves seven huge construction projects and upgrades of in-classroom technology and curriculum. Does anyone doubt that the university’s commitment to its mission and to Peoria will not encourage even more technological progress for our area?

I mentioned one billion-plus dollars at the beginning of this article…and this was just along Main Street! Obviously, there are other major investments underway on Water Street, Sheridan Road, Sterling and to the north and west of War Memorial Drive, but I will save those for another day.

The bottom line is that when you hear someone comment that Peoria isn’t friendly to business development, tell them to do their homework and jump on our technology bandwagon! iBi