Attracting new business, and retaining existing business, requires the ability of the region to provide an adequate workforce for those businesses.

The Central Illinois Workforce Development 21st Century task force is focusing on skills and training needed to create a local workforce able to meet the needs of the employer—of today and the future.

These potential employees will also have to want to come and stay in the Peoria area. Our business community says this continues to be a problem. We are having trouble recruiting young professionals with the skills and talents our area needs. This is particularly true in teaching, science, medical, technological and engineering fields.

Our quality of life, parks, sports, theater, affordable housing and choices of attractive neighborhoods is instrumental in attracting married couples with young children.

However, many businesses are finding single people, particularly young ones, and two-career professionals are not interested. They are concerned about what Peoria has to offer. To assist the business community in attracting and retaining young professionals, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce formed a task force to determine what the community and the Chamber can do to assist businesses in recruiting.

The task force will begin work in January. Several suggestions have already been made. One of these is identifying what opportunities for entertainment and housing exist and preparing a marketing piece directed at young professionals, something that can be used by all types of businesses. Another is to determine where voids exist—what attracts people to other cities that may be missing in Peoria—and looking for a way to fill the gaps.

Another suggestion is to look for an opportunity for businesses to do joint recruiting on college campuses and for businesses to identify future college grads from this area who would like the opportunity to return. There is also opportunity for businesses to cooperate in finding the right position for a recruit’s spouse. The Chamber could act as a catalyst to organize these efforts or participate directly.

Another idea is to form a group of young professionals to assist businesses in taking recruits out to dinner or on tours of the community—to share their own positive experiences.

Just a few hours of brainstorming brought fourth these ideas. One of the Chamber of Commerce’s roles is to assist businesses with their needs.

We believe by attracting employees we can make a difference. As usual, the more people who tackle an issue, the more ideas are generated with the result being a better plan.

As business people in the community who have experienced the same problem, we’d love to hear your ideas and draw on your experiences. Please e-mail the Chamber at at [email protected]

Analyzing the problem and developing solutions from all perspectives will certainly create a result. IBI