A Publication of WTVP

Our region needs a destination hub where today’s workforce can prototype new ideas and share knowledge with the next generation.

When I pass the construction site along I-74 on my drive to Caterpillar’s headquarters in Peoria from my home in Morton, I see a lot of Caterpillar’s yellow iron. While some of you may not look at it as fondly as I do—especially if this construction is adding a few minutes to your commute—this sight makes me proud. It’s not just seeing these big machines… I take great pride in the world-class people who made these innovative products possible, many of them right here in the Peoria area.

Our region also has world-class people in healthcare, education, banking, and the building and construction trades. Some of our best and brightest run their own small businesses, from technology to the arts. When you think of Caterpillar, you probably don’t think of “small business,” but we invest in new ventures serving our industries every day, including analytics, robotics, additive manufacturing, etc.

Caterpillar is committed to this region and dedicated to growth throughout the area. Along with the company’s long-term growth, we want to see more businesses created in here. Peoria has a lot to offer new businesses and those looking for an impactful career in central Illinois.

In order to enhance opportunities in the future, Peoria needs a destination hub where today’s innovative workforce can test and prototype their new ideas, as well as share their knowledge with members of the next generation. Thanks to the leadership of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council (EDC) and the support of the Peoria community, a place like this is on the horizon.

Catalyst: a person or thing that precipitates an event or change
The Greater Peoria EDC has made a tremendous and positive impact on our region. Its leadership on talent attraction and job creation is making a difference every day. And now, as part of its Startup Peoria program, the Greater Peoria EDC is developing plans to open Catalyst, an entrepreneurial and innovation center in Peoria’s Warehouse District. The center, which will be focused on ages 12 and up, can be accessed by anyone through a reasonable monthly fee—think of it like a health club or gym membership. I know this sounds like a very big idea. Let me show you how it’s more feasible than you may think.

What will Catalyst be?

Why does Greater Peoria need Catalyst?

Why is Caterpillar involved?

What’s next?
Catalyst could open as early as the end of 2017. Several sub-teams kicked off preparations late last year. Next, there will be a feasibility study by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which will provide opportunities for federal grants. By the end of this year we will know if the project is feasible, and from there, we will move forward with a capital campaign and an official request for a building.

We see Catalyst as one more piece of the Peoria fabric, filled with people launching new products and spurring our community’s imagination. It will be an incubator for businesses which I hope will flourish and provide more jobs in the region.

Most importantly, I think of the next generation in this region: our children. While their paths may lead in many directions, we want Peoria to be a destination hub for innovation and progress. With Catalyst, everyone can create something big—maybe something even bigger than the great Caterpillar yellow iron at work along I-74. iBi

Henry Vicary is Guest & Community Relations Director at Caterpillar Inc. To learn more about the Greater Peoria EDC, visit To read more stories about Caterpillar in the community, visit