It’s been my honor to serve as chairman of the board of directors for the Economic Development Council for Central Illinois.
At the onset of my term, there were many uncertainties in the future. The economy was showing signs of a slowdown, and the CEO of the Heartland Partnership and the EDC was preparing to retire. The opportunity and the challenge to lead the board of directors through these times was significant.
Throughout the course of my term, the EDC has seen many changes. With the assistance of Dr. Laurence Weinzimmer, the EDC has completed a strategic plan to re-align the organization’s focus and direction. The EDC, along with the Heartland Partnership and the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, has welcomed a new CEO—a champion for central Illinois and for aggressive growth in the region.
The EDC has undertaken many projects certain to drive growth into the future. Our communications programs have expanded, including a bi-monthly Investor Update, frequent e-mail communications, and the inauguration of an e-newsletter. Our lead handling processes have been streamlined, and our aggressive efforts not only to attract new business, but to retain and expand current businesses have intensified.
Now, two years later, I can assess the economic landscape of this region with a true sense of hope and anticipation. I see regional organizations and businesses working proactively to capitalize on a new economy. Most importantly, I see this area working together to position itself as a first rate regional competitor.
There are many important projects in progress as I end my term as chairman. The EDC has assumed a leadership role in the creation of a Port Authority in central Illinois. The EDC’s strategic alliance with Peoria NEXT has positioned the partners to realize great achievements. The EDC is actively engaged in preliminary proceedings to assist in the development of a medical/technical incubator.
Realizing the potential of this great region is a challenge that won’t yield easily. It takes the collaboration of groups like the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, the Civic Federation, and the Council of Governments. It takes the strategic partnerships of regional entities like Peoria NEXT, Workforce Development, and the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The challenge is great, but the rewards are so much greater. The stakes are high, but we have great assets on which to build. It’s our goal to leverage them, to generate growth in central Illinois.
There’s so much to look forward to in central Illinois. The businesses, organizations, and people of our area have a great responsibility to realize the potential of the region and surge forward with the endeavors that are currently underway. Under the leadership of strong organizations like the Heartland Partnership, the Economic Development Council, and the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, I have no doubt we’ll realize the potential of this region. The future is in good hands.
This year will mark the first event combining the annual meetings of the Heartland Partnership, Economic Development Council, and Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce. The event will truly be a celebration, proudly acknowledging the region’s achievements throughout the past year while building momentum and excitement for the future. You won’t want to miss it. On May 22 at the Holiday Inn City Centre, we plan to show more than 300 engaged central Illinois leaders an annual meeting that celebrates today and welcomes tomorrow. It’s time to generate growth. It’s time to enrich prosperity. It’s time to build partnerships. The future is ours for the taking.
For more information on the Heartland Partnership Annual Meeting, call 495-5955. IBI