Illinois is a strong leader in the manufacturing sector, and much of that strength can be found right here in central Illinois and in Peoria County. We greatly appreciate the many manufacturing companies, large and small, that make their homes in our communities. Not only do these companies provide goods and materials that enhance our quality of life, they also employ thousands of workers across the region. Therefore, helping manufacturers succeed is a top priority for Peoria County.
In this day and age of technological advancement, manufacturing can be found in many different forms and business sectors. Whether in traditional machine production, healthcare technology or the latest smartphone app, manufacturing is as diverse today as it has ever been. For this reason, Peoria County has spent the past year fostering innovation and encouraging an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the area. Support for programs such as Greater Peoria Sourcelink (gpsourcelink.org) has helped create a more interconnected business environment. In addition, Peoria County has utilized grant funding over the last several years to reach out to existing manufacturers. This outreach has been vital in determining where roadblocks lie and where opportunities exist for expansion.
In the future, Peoria County aims to continue its engagement with local manufacturers to identify strategic growth challenges, such as developing new markets, refining business models, and gaining access to new and more competitive practices. As manufacturing makes its resurgence in the U.S., the County is committed to working with firms the Edward Lowe Foundation has termed “second-stage” companies—entities that have passed the startup phase and are poised for growth. These second-stage companies are significant job creators for local and regional economies. Peoria County recognizes that issues like infrastructure improvement, a qualified workforce, and access to capital are critical for these companies and other manufacturers, and we will continue to work with our community partners to address these concerns.
In 2011, Peoria County created an economic development department to advance one of its strategic goals: growing the county. The County Board recognized the need to focus on economic recovery, job growth, and business retention and expansion in our area, and we will continue this high level of commitment in the years to come. Mark Rothert, assistant county administrator, has been charged with the management of our economic development program. I encourage any manufacturer to contact him to discuss how Peoria County may assist in your business growth. Let it be known: Peoria County is open for business. iBi
Stephen Morris is vice chairman of the Peoria County Board. For more information on economic development in Peoria County, contact Mark Rothert at (309) 672-6939 or [email protected].