“Caterpillar will stay in Peoria. I repeat: Caterpillar will stay in Peoria.” And with those words, Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman revealed the long-anticipated plans for the company’s headquarters complex—to a standing ovation from those of us in attendance. Located in the heart of downtown Peoria, the new campus will encompass 31 acres on six city blocks, including three towers, glass walkways, green space, walking and biking paths, retail and food options, and more.

The announcement sets the stage for a wave of new development to come, both in the near-future and the long term. Now that the company has officially recommitted itself to our community, I cannot wait to see what happens next!

As Governor Rauner noted, Caterpillar received enticing offers from all over the world, but it chose to stay here in Peoria. It’s testament to the long-term relationships the company has built over the years with the people and businesses of central Illinois, but it says even more about our future. Through the years, particularly over the last decade, Caterpillar has asked its vendors and suppliers to reinvent themselves—just as it has done. While change can be a painful process, it forced many companies to diversify their offerings and adapt to the 21st century. Those that did have survived and thrived.

Which brings us to the current issue. Given Caterpillar’s historic announcement, we could not have planned the timing of this manufacturing-focused issue any better! Our “Made in the Region” feature highlights 20 of the 400 or so manufacturing firms that operate throughout central Illinois. Many of them are connected in some way to Caterpillar—and they are equally thrilled with this announcement. While the regional economy has diversified greatly over the last decade, there can be no doubt that manufacturing remains critical to our future.

Elsewhere in this issue, we take a look at another fascinating development in the world of manufacturing—and that’s the maker movement, which has placed the power of small-scale manufacturing in the hands of individuals. Driven by newly-affordable hardware and the rise of 3D printers, the maker movement has come to Peoria as well.

“We’re here in Peoria to stay,” says Doug Oberhelman. “Our long-term future is here.” Indeed, the years to come are full of promise, and we’re happy to be along for the ride. So sit back and get excited: there’s so much more to come! iBi