The information gained from our business retention visits is compiled and published at the end of the year, providing a wealth of useful information. The program doesn’t end with retention visits though. Rather, the visits are just an initial information-gathering tool, setting the stage for what we hope becomes a constant channel of communication between the EDC and tri-County businesses.
Realizing the need to be proactive and attentive to the tri-County business community, the Economic Development Council set out to identify current business needs with specific emphasis on the changing face of the economy and the new challenges facing businesses today.
Before we can accurately provide effective information and guidance, however, we need to identify exactly what is needed by central Illinois businesses. That has always been the goal of the business retention program, and we can think of no more useful tool to utilize right now.
At the end of October, the EDC began contacting some of the businesses surveyed for the Business Retention Program so far this year. The goal was to identify what the needs of the community really are with respect to the current economic environment.
Participants were asked about their interest level in informational programming—centering on marketing beyond the traditional customer base, challenges and solutions for manufacturing and service companies, and financial options and opportunities for businesses to take advantage of.
As we analyze and interpret the data produced by this research, we are keeping an eye on what programming and services we can offer to truly be of service to the business community in these dynamic and challenging times. The EDC is committed to providing the resources necessary to help central Illinois businesses survive and flourish.
When the EDC was formed in the 1980s, the unemployment rate was at an all-time high of 16.3 percent. Our mission then was to build economic strength and stability for Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford Counties. That is what we did then, and that is what we are doing today.
The EDC remains a proactive organization, working to anticipate and meet the needs of the business community. Our goal is to remain a valuable resource to the businesses of the tri-County area. We can only be of assistance, however, if we are utilized. As I come to a close with my time here at the EDC, I encourage you to utilize this organization. The benefits the EDC provides to the community are truly invaluable and here for the taking.
My retirement begins at the close of this year. While I will dearly miss working for this organization which I have watched develop into the growth catalyst it has become over the years, I am excited to watch it continue to grow and adapt to the challenges faced by the central Illinois economic environment. The position of CEO will soon be filled, bringing with it new ideas and benefits that will surely drive the EDC to new heights, serving the community in new and innovative ways.
The tri-County area has so much to offer as a region. But if you destroy or tear down the region’s bonds and work independently as separate communities, the offerings become small. I pray the leaders of the tri-County area will not let this happen.
My wife, Betty, and I have enjoyed our time and friends we made here. We are so lucky to have lived in such an exciting and growing area. We thank each and every person and organization that has supported us and the Heartland Partnership organizations. We know you will succeed and thank you for the opportunity to be part of this great area. God bless. IBI