A Publication of WTVP

It is projected that by 2018, employment growth within the healthcare industry will increase by more than eight percent. Even during an economic downturn, the healthcare industry throughout our region has remained stable. This is good news, not only for the economy, but for the aging population. The necessity of healthcare services will continue to increase in order to provide for the aging baby boomer generation. As such a fast-growing industry, it is no surprise that new developments are taking place all over the Greater Peoria region.

One major achievement completed recently was the development of a state-of-the-art cancer research center in Peoria. In December, the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria held a grand opening for the 24,000-square-foot research center, a collaborative effort among UICOMP, The Heartland Partnership and several other key community stakeholders. The new facility will not only further the work of internationally renowned scientist, Dr. Jasti Rao, it will also enhance the medical school’s ability to attract and recruit additional talented cancer researchers to the Peoria region.

The new facility also means the promise of future achievements for an already successful program. In the decade since Dr. Rao and his team arrived in Peoria, the cancer research program has received close to $30 million in grants and published over 100 publications. Not only do grant awards lend a level of prestige to the program and community, they also help pay the salaries and costs of further research. With the research center finally off the ground, there is a world of new hope and possibilities regarding new treatments—and possibly, a cure for cancer.

The cancer center is not the only new development making headlines in the local healthcare industry. In late January, a $95 million redevelopment plan with OSF Finance Co. for facility upgrades and improvements was approved by the Peoria City Council. The plan will return 75 to 90 percent of new tax revenues OSF will generate on new projects. OSF believes the development process will last until 2034 and will include the $51.3 million Jump Trading Simulation and Conference Center, which will be used to train medical professionals throughout the community.

With so much future tax revenue being reverted back to the hospital, some have been skeptical about generating the money for other projects. While it is a sizeable investment, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis was thankful that such an investment was being made within the core of the community. An investment this size will leave OSF with almost no choice but to revert a large portion of property taxes back to the city for sidewalks, roadwork and other maintenance projects. The hope is that the new Trading Simulation and Conference Center will bring more talented physicians and medical professionals to the region. And, because this investment is being made within a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district, there is hope that this project will revitalize a previously “blighted” area of the city.

From new developments in cancer research to community revitalization, the healthcare industry continues to grow and prosper throughout the region. Its success in the Greater Peoria Region will undoubtedly play an important role in the sustainability of our economy for years to come. iBi