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A Publication of WTVP

If there’s one thing becoming more and more clear in the region today, it’s that what’s happening in central Illinois isn’t just “business as usual.” Various groups throughout the region are coming together to recharge existing organizations, reanimate long-standing alliances, and create new and dynamic collaborations—all geared towards getting things moving in the tri-county area.

The momentum is gathering. With so many forces working passionately for the continued improvement of central Illinois, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. We’re all focused on propelling the region to new arenas and new channels of action. The key is to ensure we’re coordinating and collaborating to drive growth in the same direction. There’s a growing alignment of organizations to create efficiency and produce great results.

There are many success stories, and many stories about to unfold. The Peoria Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (PACVB), led by Keith Arnold and his skilled promotional team, launched the second round of the “Illinois River Country” promotional campaign. This full-color newspaper insert was distributed to more than one million households in the Chicago, Rockford, Quad Cities, Springfield, Champaign, and St. Louis markets. The second round placed increased emphasis on highlighting the area’s presence as a tourism destination. “Illinois River Country” is an example of a successful, full-fledged regional marketing campaign designed to generate visitors and high-impact tourism dollars.

Peoria Next is the regional collaborative for commercialization and development of the science and technology industry. We hope you’ve noticed that this region has entered leading edge technology. Peoria Next, the EDC, and many others are working together to provide for vigorous, effective recruitment of companies focused on science and technology.

The collaborative is creating exciting forums where scientists come together to share ideas that create new products. They’re engaged in active development of scientific research parks and lab space. Peoria Next is becoming a true catalyst for creatives, inventors, and innovators to take their products to market and build new business. The energy behind this group is enormous.

The Council of Governments is a new forum for leading political figures throughout the region. Their goal is to create strong community and policy alliances that strengthen the community as a whole. Throughout the networking process, this group is finding unique solutions to difficult municipal and social problems. The opportunity to exchange best practices allows area community leaders to reduce the cost of generating legislation and to efficiently and effectively represent their respective communities.

The Heartland Partnership is engaged in a massive effort to push forward economic development strategies and create an environment in which businesses will thrive and grow. Over the past year the various Heartland boards generated some powerful strategic plans that are just now in beginning implementation stages. Well-known author and growth strategist Dr. Larry Wienzimmer was a key architect in designing the plans. The Heartland Partnership is positioning itself to accelerate positive growth and create an innovative new economy.

Mayor Ransburg has the Peoria region looking forward with a Vision 2020 project that rivals any major metropolitan planning exercise. Although the project is in its infancy, it’s not a simple effort. The hard questions are getting a lot of attention, and the solutions for age-old regional problems are finally coming to the forefront. Stay tuned.

The Civic Federation is a group of senior leaders of the community that aims to solve high level business and economic issues. They’ve hired Lyle Sumack, a city redesign guru, to craft a plan and make recommendations that will improve the business of running a city. The focus of this group is on powerful issues surrounding the business climate and fostering a better economy. The Civic Federation is a commanding group of thinkers and doers.

There are dozens of other important players in this new energized effort: the hospitals’ extraordinary efforts, ICC’s multi-million dollar technology and service expansions, Bradley University’s pioneering new technology and business programs, the Workforce groups, the schools, and the airport. Central Illinois’ community groups are being aligned to create powerful momentum for positive, lasting economic change.

There’s a secret about to be told in the conversations over the fences in all of our communities. People are whispering, “Great things are starting to move forward; get caught up in it.” IBI

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