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A Publication of WTVP

What would it look like if you designed the blueprint of development for the future of central Illinois? If you could sit down and identify the key projects necessary to propel the tri-county area into the future and economic success, what would be the outcome?

If it was done right, the result would be a comprehensive strategy for economic development. Producing this strategy would be the first step towards realizing a prosperous future for the region and a future of growth for our businesses, organizations, municipalities, and families. This document would have a name. In the economic development world, we would call it a CEDS.

What’s a CEDS? A CEDS, or Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, is one of the first steps to securing federal funding for key central Illinois development projects. The CEDS process calls upon communities to analyze local conditions, identify problems and opportunities, and define the vision and goals of the collective community.

Identifying the priorities is only the first step. The next phase includes designing strategies to accomplish these goals, coordinating activities to implement these strategies, and evaluating and updating the process. The final result of a successful CEDS is a plan that creates jobs, raises income levels, diversifies the economy, and improves the quality of life for a region.

More than 30 local organizations are working collaboratively in an effort to identify projects for regional development. The fact that these organizations and communities are identifying goals isn’t unusual. What makes this unique is that, through the CEDS process, these communities are identifying goals together. Therein lies the essence of the CEDS process.

“This is an opportunity for central Illinois to secure funding for critical economic development projects,” said Jim McConoughey, president and CEO of the Economic Development Council. “Even more importantly, this is an opportunity for our community leaders to come together in an effort to identify the projects that will shape the future of this region.” 

Led by the EDC and in conjunction with Peoria NEXT and the City of Peoria, a committee has been formed with responsibility for developing the CEDS. This committee will be comprised of individuals from public leadership, economic and business development organizations, the employment and training sector, and community organizations.

Of course, there’s a very important purpose to the CEDS effort. In addition to bringing various community interests together to create a plan for the region, the CEDS will allow Peoria, Tazewell, and Mason counties to compete for $500,000 to $1 million annually from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA funding provides 60 percent of the project costs, with the remaining 40 percent coming from the individual communities.

So what would the design of future development in central Illinois look like? With the creation of a CEDS, central Illinois will soon know. The CEDS is a means to develop our potential. It’s a wish list for future development. For central Illinois, the CEDS will be a design for development. Watch for it. IBI

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