A Publication of WTVP

As we began 2003, there were a number of initiatives in some stage of planning and/or development, the major one being the Greater Peoria Vision 20/20 with its four key task forces: Economic Development and Transportation; Youth, Education and Learning; Neighborhoods and City Services; and Leisure and Tourism. The Heart of Peoria Plan was expected to be presented in 2003. The Lakeview Regional Museum planning process and the agreement needed with the city was still in process. The District 150 strategic planning process was announced. The Workforce Development Board had undertaken a significant study. There were ideas for the creation of a Medical and Technology District, as well as the future strategic role of the Economic Development Council and Heartland Partnership.

As we close 2003 and look forward to 2004, the above items have been essentially completed. The Greater Peoria Vision 20/20 is expected to be announced by Mayor Ransburg. District 150 has completed its strategic plan. The Lakeview Regional Museum has its agreement with the City of Peoria and is continuing its site planning. The Workforce Development Board issued its significant study, "Talent Force 21." The Heartland Partnership has been reorganized. A Medical and Technology District has been created. The Heart of Peoria Plan is expected to be approved in concept by the city council by the time this article is published.

In addition, a tremendous potential economic development tool, the Port Authority, was approved in 2003. With the continued development of Peoria NEXT and the Port Authority, these two significant economic development generators will redefine Peoria for the next generation.

It's time for the next step: implementation. Who's going to be responsible? How will these significant initiatives be prioritized? Which organizations are taking the lead on which projects? How will the most important projects get funded? The questions regarding the implementation need to be answered within the first few months of 2004.

It's imperative the work volunteered by hundreds of people doesn't languish. The relationship of Jim McConoughey, president of Economic Development, and Randy Oliver, our new city manager, will be critical. It should be particularly encouraging that the new city manager has a strong economic development background. Together, they need to form a collaborative bond that will move projects forward. The business community will likely have to support these key initiatives, through these key individuals, with increased public and political support, as well as increased financial support.

The City of Peoria, the business organizations, and individuals involved with these significant planning efforts should be proud of what's been accomplished to date. Now, as we enter 2004, we're at the next crossroad. Do we have the willpower to implement the vision, plans, and strategies that can make Peoria a strong community for many years to come? IBI