This will (sadly, for me) be the last time I will have the privilege of providing a column to InterBusiness Issues. Thanks to Jan Wright and staff for allowing me the opportunity to give my thoughts and updates on topics that affect our community.
As I look forward, Peoria’s future is bright and promising. The centerpiece of that optimism relates to The Block, the combination of the Peoria Riverfront Museum and the Caterpillar Experience, as the physical centerpieces of downtown Peoria and the Greater Peoria Region. Having the Illinois High School Association’s Hall of Fame in Peoria opens up many opportunities to host athletic and academic high school events, and Peoria has already seen the benefits of that relationship.
Later this year, the Cancer Center will open, and a new era of research dollars can flow into the region. I have stated over the years (and I will state one last time) that the future—the real potential for our outstanding medical community—is the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. UICOMP is what differentiates us from other communities. By expanding, strengthening and developing more fellowships, residencies and research, the opportunity for Peoria to remain a leader in healthcare is very promising.
In September, Peoria NEXT will announce its next five-year plan, and people will be impressed. Peoria NEXT has great potential to continue to build on the assets of this community and its own earlier successes. The Quest charter school has had a great impact on the educational environment, and it is encouraging that Dr. Grenita Lathan of District 150 is continuing to make adjustments that will strengthen the educational system.
As I look back on my 12 years in Peoria, I cannot be more proud of our community, its leaders and those who collaborated to make such meaningful change. I have previously written about many of these changes, including the Renaissance that the Greater Peoria Area has enjoyed, with over $1 billion in infrastructure invested and reinvested in this community. During the last decade, Peoria was recognized by many national publications as an “up-and-coming” community that is actively shaping its future. I have no doubt that with the continued focus of area leaders, Peoria will continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive and global world. Other communities may try, but they cannot replicate the history, tradition or culture here. Peoria is a special community, and I have great confidence that, indeed, the future is bright.
I wish I could thank each and every one of you who have helped and supported Methodist, my family and me over the years, but it would take this entire issue. I am very proud to have been part of a community and group of leaders who came together over the past decade for the benefit of the community. This has been a special period for me, and one that I will look back on with fondness and immense pride. All I can do is to say thank you! It has been my pleasure and privilege. iBi