As the United States prepares for possible military conflict, governments at all levels are facing difficult economic times. The market continues to lack the stability we need, and businesses of all sizes continue to adjust. Although the economic hardships we face today are difficult to weather, Peoria is taking on these challenges and seeking new ways to revitalize our economy.
During the economic crisis of the mid-1980s, few would have envisioned the vibrant shopping and leisure destination downtown that continues to grow today. At a time when our city’s population appeared destined for significant decline, our community discovered new ways to prosper. Through collaborative efforts and creative strategies for pooling our resources, many organizations and community leaders have joined together in an effort to provide our city with economic renewal.
Over the past 10 years, the face of Peoria has changed and now is serving as a benchmark of midwestern economic expansion and vitality. We’ve worked hard to bring life to a once-ailing downtown and have successfully produced both a business environment and a leisure climate our city’s diverse residents can be proud of. With the expanded riverfront recreational and entertainment district, the addition of a world class health and fitness complex, and the completion of a new professional baseball stadium, the center of our community once again has a vibrancy Peorians have long awaited.
During the past few years, Peoria has been faced with a difficult question: do we support the status quo only to risk falling behind, or do we look for new opportunities? Many of our residents, including both business and civic leaders, have agreed that we want our community to be a regional leader once again, and new opportunities represent our hope for the future. The economy is changing, and so must Peoria.
Although manufacturing and labor-oriented jobs continue as a strong part of our economy today, we must realize information management and a knowledge-based economy may represent a new opportunity for growth. We have significant assets right here in Peoria that very few communities our size have—an intellectual property base and unique opportunities to capitalize on that base.
According to an Expansion Magazine study, Peoria ranks in the top 100 logistics-friendly cities in America. With resources like our medical facilities, a federal agriculture laboratory, a Fortune 100 company technical center, and institutions of higher learning, groundbreaking research in the biosciences is already occurring. By joining these powerful entities together under the umbrella of Peoria NEXT, we can capitalize on our existing assets and attract a wealth of new ones. It’s of the utmost importance, however, that our community works creatively to cultivate these resources and create the type of environment in which this new economy can thrive.
Although progress in Peoria is exciting, we can’t forget the true value of our community is the wonderful people who live and work here. Our nation is facing yet another difficult hour with the activation of reservists and guard units all across the country. Peoria is among the many communities that have seen its residents respond to their call to duty. Our local 182nd Air National Guard Wing has been activated, in addition to the hundreds of other military personnel from central Illinois. The call-up includes several city employees, as well as many private sector professionals. We should be proud that our public and private organizations employ the type of dedicated individuals who commit to preserving democracy whenever necessary.
Peorians stand together in these times of economic uncertainty. We support our men and women in uniform. We’re committed to growing our economy, creating jobs, and providing the opportunities our soldiers fight to protect. We stand with them, as Peorians and Americans. IBI