A Publication of WTVP

Economic balance is why Pekin is peaking! Have you experienced it lately?

The City of Pekin offers a strong foundation of opportunity: a family-friendly hometown personality; strong healthcare facilities and services; an array of residential and recreational options; education from early childhood to college; and a diverse commercial mix, from small and mid-sized businesses to industrial manufacturing on the global stage.

Pekin is a community with peaking economic development, beginning with a foundation of transportation and infrastructure. Funding through the last transportation bill is currently being used to extend Veterans Drive to the north. Once complete, it will provide direct access to Interstate 474, allowing businesses a faster way to get their products shipped out and necessary commodities shipped in. Meanwhile, construction is expected to begin next year on the southern portion of Veterans Drive, which will eventually become Illinois Route 9, improving the flow of truck traffic in and around the City.

Pekin is expanding and improving its infrastructure to support residential, commercial and industrial growth. This growth, along with changes in EPA mandates, requires that the current wastewater treatment plant, which was constructed in 1939, be upgraded and expanded to meet new quality standards and increase capacity. This project will also address the issue of combined sewer outfalls, bringing the City into compliance with clean water regulations. Over the next 10 years, more than $60 million will be invested in this facility.

The Illinois River is truly an asset. Current plans call for the construction of a port terminal along Pekin’s riverfront, a windfall for industries throughout the region that utilize the river for shipping and receiving products. The first phase is expected to be completed late next year, with an overall investment of $8.5 million.

Unique opportunities also exist for businesses to locate adjacent to the river, with direct rail access and nearby interstate access at Riverway Business Park. Land is affordable, with enterprise zone benefits including 100-percent property tax abatement for five years and the waiver of local and state sales taxes on building materials, as well as local building and permit fees. Riverway Business Park is home to seven national and international companies, as well as Illinois Central College, employing more than 650 of the regional workforce. The original 165-acre park has been expanded by an additional 210 acres of available, site-ready land.

Public-private partnerships have peaked development, including the Avanti’s Dome and East Court Village I & II, which has spurred infrastructure, site improvements and the addition of new tenants. Other peaking areas include Riverfront Park, an ideal location for mixed-use development, with its green space, unique gathering areas, interactive features, public boat launch and traffic counts of 6,100 vehicles per day. The riverfront also serves as a gateway to the downtown Main Street district, with its active TIF that includes unique retail, restaurants, service-oriented companies and agencies, and the county seat for Tazewell County. All told, seven TIF revitalization projects are in progress in the city’s downtown district.

Another component of a prosperous community is quality of life. An abundance of indoor and outdoor recreation can be found throughout Pekin, including biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, swimming, horseback riding and golf—along with 15 parks and an array of sports programs, activities and multi-functional complexes.

Education—from early childhood development to college and continued education—peaks a quality workforce. Pekin Community High School offers college-prep academic classes and the opportunity to achieve certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Child Development Assistant (CDA), or in programs such as CISCO networking, C++ and computer repair. Students also have opportunities for hands-on experience with extending classroom learning at Caterpillar Inc., ATS, Excel Foundry and other area businesses.

As for healthcare, Pekin Hospital offers access to state-of-the-art medical technologies and equipment. Its comprehensive care includes ER1, surgery, intermediate and critical care, internal medicine, testing and labs, family practice, the Baby Place, pediatrics, specialist treatment centers, women’s health, wellness center, rehab and more. And if additional healthcare is needed, patients have convenient access to the largest medical community in downstate Illinois.

Pekin has a robust commitment to economic development, bringing a diversity of creative resources to both local and regional projects. The City’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) has been in place for more than five years, guiding our economic balance. This 13-member, public/private committee provides support for existing businesses, discusses assets and barriers to economic growth, evaluates prospective projects through a development proposal process, and keeps a pulse on the community’s overall needs. The City’s collaboration with ViTAL Economy and the current regional economic development journey will peak our foundation by connecting to the region’s assets, sharing resources and mobilizing the team.

No, this article is not about a trip to Peking, China—the reality is that economic prosperity is just a short journey away. A safe community with hometown appeal, low-cost living, robust business resources and quality of life… Pekin may be just the place for you! iBi

Leigh Ann Matthews is the economic development/tourism coordinator for the City of Pekin.