A Publication of WTVP

Like a lot of you, I’ve had the good fortune to live in Peoria all my life, and we’ve been blessed with many initiatives extolling the virtues of volunteer community participation over the years.

I think one of the best celebrations of civic accomplishment is the 40 Leaders Under Forty program. The late David C. Wright, who founded the program with Lindsay Wood Davis, must certainly be smiling down as Jan Wright and son Jon continue the tradition he started in 1994.

The annual 40 Leaders Under Forty recognition is an important reminder of civic progress and how wonderful, new generations of Peoria-area citizens help to rejuvenate and power our quest to be the best community of our size…anywhere! I’ve made this event a priority on my calendar every year. While 40 years of age is a bit in my rearview mirror, I am always recharged when I attend the event and hear about all the great things these folks are doing.

If you have the time, you should take a look at the past winners of this recognition on For example, scan the list from 1994, that initial year. You will be amazed at the names and what these leaders had accomplished before turning 40, as well as what so many of them have done in the years since. These are the people helping to power Peoria. I note with pride, too, that among the list are employees of the City and members of the Council, past and present.

When the final award recipient is recognized on November 6th, we will have had 600 people identified as young leaders who have made a commitment to the common good and social and economic betterment. What better proof of their efforts could you want than some of the well-deserved, national recognition Peoria has recently received? When Jim McConoughey of the Heartland Partnership called me a few weeks ago to say that Inc. magazine had recognized Peoria as one of its best cities for doing business, I had two immediate thoughts. One, it’s about time! And two, the recognition of our young leaders through 40 Leaders Under Forty helps motivate the community to even greater performance.

And I guess it should come as no surprise that another national organization, the Milken Institute, similarly recognized Peoria as one of the best performing cities in areas such as job growth, wages and salaries growth, and growth in general economic activity. Peoria is being powered by people of all ages and walks of life, but it is no mystery that this coincides with the great resource of young leaders recognized by the 40 Leaders program.

Every once in a while I get somewhat discouraged with the emphasis given in some local quarters to negative news. Fortunately, I am able to visit with mayors of similarly-sized cities and find that, in this regard, we actually fare better than our peers. Why? Well for one reason, our friends elsewhere do not have the encouragement of young leadership that we have in Peoria. They do not have 40 Leaders Under Forty.

Congratulations to Central Illinois Business Publishers for 15 outstanding years of promoting the value of leadership as demonstrated by the younger generation. Thanks, Jan, Jon and the CIBP staff! This program is an important part of our social progress and economic success. It drives home what a lot of us already know—that Peoria is indeed one of the best cities in its class for business, and better yet, for life itself. iBi