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A Publication of WTVP

It’s been some time since Peoria had a division head for the Economic Development Department, but I’m happy to say those days are over. The city manager recently hired Craig Hullinger, AICP, as the new economic development director for the City of Peoria. Craig has more than 30 years of experience in planning and economic development. He ran his own consulting firm and was previously the director of Land Use for Will County; the village administrator of Olympia Fields, Minooka, and Park Forest South; and the assistant village manager of Tinley Park.

Craig has developed numerous plans, annexation agreements, economic development studies, transportation plans, environmental studies, strategic plans, and zoning subdivision ordinances. He has extensive development experience and served as an expert witness various times.

He led the development of 14 comprehensive plans and seven major zoning ordinance amendments, and he reviewed more than 300 proposed land developments. His experience in leading economic development in the communities he’s served will be beneficial as Peoria moves forward in our transition from an industrial-based to a knowledge-based economy. Craig recently worked for FEMA, leading the economic revitalization of Utica following severe damage from the devastating tornado that destroyed a large part of their community.

As Peoria continues its transition to a technological-based economy, I believe Craig’s experience and connections within the economic development arena will be very beneficial to Peoria specifically—and our area in general. Yes, I said our area. I’ll continue to stress the need for us to plan, communicate, and grow as a region to help ensure the area develops together, without needless duplication and with an eye towards our future needs.

Although Craig and I haven’t had much time to talk in depth yet, I plan to meet with him in the very near future to discuss issues I’ve raised before relating to our need to develop a city-driven economic development plan. For several years, I’ve advocated we develop a model similar to the one successfully used in Austin, Texas. The matrix they’ve developed identifies specific jobs and developments they want and need in their city and locations they would prefer them to happen. Based on a developer’s ability to provide the jobs in the areas they want them, they may qualify for different types of incentives. You can see details of this model at www.ci.austin.tx.us/smartgrowth/.

Craig’s transition as our economic development director will be helped immensely from the experience and worth ethic of his very capable assistant, Ben Vyverberg, who’s been in our Economic Development Department for some time. Please join me in welcoming Craig to Peoria and wishing him much success as we guide Peoria and the area towards a successful, knowledge-based economy. IBI

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