Main Street was identified as the prime location to develop a research/technology park—connecting the medical communities, Bradley, and the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR)—during the planning stages for Peoria NEXT. Further support was provided by the Heart of Peoria plan.
Recent events have elevated the strategic importance of a designated research/technology park. Peoria NEXT’s first start-up, ZuChem, is progressing much faster than expected and needs more space. Without a new location, our first start-up company could leave. There are several key opportunities currently under evaluation that could be lost, as well, without a designated research/technology area.
Another key event was the decision of the local oncologists not to build their facility downtown. If the medical community abandons downtown Peoria, the future of Peoria NEXT, as well as the future livelihood of downtown Peoria, would be in serious jeopardy.
To help address the situation, an ordinance creating the Peoria Medical and Technology District has been proposed. This ordinance, which creates the Peoria Medical and Technology District Commission, would have the following key purposes:
- Maintain the proper surroundings for a medical center and a technology center in order to attract, stabilize, and retain with the district hospitals, clinics, research facilities, educational facilities, and other high-tech facilities.
- Promote and facilitate the elimination of blighting conditions in blighted and conservation areas located within the Peoria Medical/Technology District through the redevelopment of such areas in a manner consistent with the purposes set forth in this ordinance.
- Promote and encourage expansion of the research and development sector, with emphasis on capital formation and investments in research and development within the City of Peoria.
- Promote cooperative research efforts between the private sector and the City of Peoria research universities and research parks adjacent to a federal laboratory or one or more research agencies, and to strengthen the partnership among city government, higher education, and business and industry.
- Promote the stabilization and development of residential and commercial areas that support the facilities, parks, and centers set forth herein.
- Promote and enhance the viability of certain otherwise stable residential and historic districts and other residential areas that may contain a small percentage of blighted or otherwise troubled structures through the use of good urban planning techniques and programs of loans and grants for the rehabilitation of such structures for residential use .
- Promote and enhance those activities and developments which will further stabilize residential historic districts and residential areas within the district.
Other cities have created various research parks. Kalamazoo has a technical park called the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, as well as a Michigan Life Science Corridor. Grand Rapids has the Grand Rapid SmartZone. Madison, Wis., has the University Research Park. Louisville, Ky., has the Health Enterprise Zone, as well as E Main USA, a high-tech corridor for electronic commerce, just to name a few.
Main Street used to be the “main street” of Peoria—the center of this community. It could be again. IBI