Some very exciting new collaborative efforts are underway in our community from which we can gain the knowledge to effectuate positive change for the central Illinois area.
Working with consultants to bring in new ideas, and make decisions based on knowledge, the following five noteworthy collaborative efforts are examples of how we should do business in the area. We should think regionally, not parochially; and we should be inclusive and work together, marshalling our forces instead of duplicating efforts.
- Workforce 21st Century is a task force created by Central Illinois Workforce Development made up of business, education, and government leaders, and a consultant in workforce issues. The task force is studying what the employer needs now in employee skills and what skills and training will be needed in the future. The task force will then focus on what actions need to be taken to make certain this region has a trained, skilled workforce to meet the needs of existing employers and to attract further economic development.
- The Biocollaborative Board is working on a Regional Bioscience Strategy. The board includes Peoria’s three hospitals—the University of Illinois College of Medicine, the USDA National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research and Bradley University. The effort is to make this area a center for bioscience research, a long-term goal which the Batelle Institute Consultant and the task force that worked with the consultant believe is realistic and one that holds greater economic development promise for our area.
- The Peoria Area Lakes Basin Alliance is a cooperative effort of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, the Nature Conservancy, Heartland Partnership and the Peoria Lakes Action Resources to improve Peoria Lakes. The plan is to dredge, constructing islands in lower Peoria Lake as part of a long-term plan to improve the lakes.
- The Collaborative Museum Group—comprised of Lakeview Museum, the Peoria Historical Society and numerous other groups interested in preserving segments of Peoria’s History—toured other regional museums. Lakeview and the Historical Society pooled their resources to fund the next phase of consulting studies. Through these collaborative efforts, a truly great regional museum and major tourist draw is moving forward in a positive direction.
- The Chamber of Commerce’s two task forces, involving more than 50 business, education and government leaders in the study of improving our education systems and advancing regional thinking and cost effectiveness in our government are well underway.
By working together, each of the entities and people involved in these efforts has greatly increased the chance of success and helped move forward projects, which can brighten the future of our region. As a community, increased collaboration and a focus on regional thinking is the direction toward which we must continue to head. IBI