A Publication of WTVP

It’s hard to believe this is iBi’s 24th annual 40 Leaders Under Forty issue! I can still remember every class, though I don’t always remember the faces of all 960 recipients. Even with so many changes over the years, the need to foster leadership and encourage those who are contributing their time, talents and treasure to our community remains persistent.

“Whether it's the dawn of artificial intelligence, rise of e-commerce, expansion of automated business processes or influx of millennial workers, business operations are being forced to change the way they do things,” wrote Adam C. Uzialko in a recent article for Business News Daily. “It is not the smartest or the strongest that survive, but the most adaptive.”

Like most everyone, our own community is going through significant changes. No one knows this better than our 2017 40 Leaders Alumnus of the Year, Peoria City Councilman Sid Ruckriegel (Class of 2003), who suggests that we “align our combined city and community resources so we can best address our community’s challenges… We have a wealth of talent and energy to solve the issues that are in front of us.”

Sid recommends data-driven solutions—and one can witness that happening in both the formation of AppsCo, a real-world business run entirely by students in Peoria Public Schools (one of whose advisors is a member of this year’s class of 40 Leaders); as well as the Peoria Civic Hackathon, which took place in August, featuring groups of technologists utilizing city data to create a website, app or other tool to improve the lives of Peoria-area residents. Coupled with the efforts of local startups and entrepreneurs, we’re not just waiting around for an Amazon to swoop in and save us. (Don’t miss our January 2018 issue, which will kick off the New Year with a fresh look at Peoria’s startup community.)

Over the last year, our civic and business leaders have been forced to analyze, rethink and adapt to new economic realities. I’ve participated in numerous discussions about the best path forward, but nothing has encouraged me more than reading through the 158 nominations we received for this year’s class of 40 Leaders. It’s a good reminder that those who are making our region a better place to live are already here. Our challenge, to veteran and emerging leaders alike, is to be adaptive—and be part of the solution. iBi