A Publication of WTVP

I've often considered one of the most fortunate aspects of working with the Economic Development Council and The Heartland Partnership family of companies to be the broad perspective you develop by being deeply engaged in such a wide variety of initiatives. There are many exciting projects taking place, but the spectacular thing about all of this activity is the way in which these initiatives overlap and build on one another's successes.

It's truly inspirational to see the way our regional organizations work in tandem to apply their strengths and core competencies at the appropriate times and through the appropriate roles to propel regional projects to where they need to be. At the recent Talent Force 21 Summit, it became apparent there's a great level of synergy and complementary effort behind a number of our region's initiatives, ranging from Peoria NEXT, Vision 2020, Talent Force 21, and the many critical initiatives being driven by The Heartland Partnership family of companies.

Whether a particular project is related to workforce development, education, or neighborhood development, in many cases there's a very real connection to the ability of our region to be a competitive force in economic development. So, while the scope of our own program of work is very direct and targeted, the EDC and The Heartland Partnership family of companies often take great strides to support other regional initiatives in what are often vital roles.

In the arena of workforce development, various regional organizations have pulled together to support a Workforce Network initiative funded by the Grand Victoria Foundation. The program helps train incumbent workers in medical-related industries for advancement within their fields. The Heartland Foundation played a key role in the initiative by securing and receiving the funds for the program.

Realizing the vital function the Illinois River plays in the region, the EDC supports the efforts of the PACVB and the Nature Conservancy, who've teamed up with Congressman LaHood's office and Lt. Gov. Quinn's office to acquire the services of nature-based tourism consultant Ted Eubanks. The goal is to develop a nature-based tourism project designed to increase tourism throughout central Illinois, taking advantage of the migratory bird path that follows the Illinois River.

Invoking the true sense of the word "collaboration," five regional organizations have teamed up to create a community Web portal. The particularly unique aspect of this initiative is the support behind this portal. The EDC, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Peoria Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Peoria Area Association of Realtors, and Workforce Network have invested time and other resources to ensure the portal represents the most complete and comprehensive entry point for visitors to obtain information about the greater Peoria region. We look forward to your feedback and engagement in this portal project as it launches in the coming weeks.

In another example, The Heartland Partnership recently was recognized through a City Proclamation for its role in helping the Neighborhood Development Commission (NDC) raise funds to send representatives to a conference focusing on strengthening and maintaining neighborhoods. Through the cooperative efforts of The Heartland Partnership family of companies and the NDC, more than $16,000 was raised, and 35 advocates representing 20 neighborhood associations were able to attend the conference.

The EDC also played a fundamental part in awarding a $2 million EDA grant for the construction of the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center. This announcement was a vital step in the development process of the incubator. In addition, the EDC has taken on the responsibility of fulfilling marketing duties for the Heart of Illinois Regional Port District, including the initial branding and promotion process.

There are hundreds of examples in which the dedicated organizations and businesses in this region have pulled together to make regional initiatives like these successful. The need for appropriate collaborative support like that provided by the EDC and The Heartland Partnership companies is truly vital to this community. We seek your support in ensuring these activities remain possible and that our work may continue and grow. IBI