The Medical and Technology District Commission continues to meet and implement strategies on its master comprehensive plan. At the August meeting, Phillips Swager Associates presented an architectural rendering of the Peoria Next Innovation Center. Its approximately 48,000 square feet will be set back 25 feet from the street to create a courtyard effect. It’s anticipated that on both sides of the Innovation Center will be other incubators or buildings that will be complementary, thereby creating an impressive critical mass.
We’re strongly encouraging a façade with defined features to create an initial positive impression that will meet the functional needs of an incubator. We continue to negotiate an agreement with the City of Peoria to fund an operating entity whose sole purpose is development of the Main Street Technology Corridor.
Dr. Peter Johnsen, a commission member who also serves as chair of Peoria Next, outlined current activities within Peoria Next. He noted that as an outcome of strong economic development and job creation, the potential for enhancing the overall social and cultural environment within the region likely would occur. The Peoria Next board engaged a consulting team from Caterpillar to assist in developing its next five-year strategic plan. It’s exciting that the initial 29 steps under the initial strategic plan have been accomplished, and the steps necessary for the development of Peoria Next are under discussion.
As owner of the Peoria Innovation Center, the Peoria Next board has some clear responsibilities to address. As ground breaking occurs, it’s critical to identify a CEO to lead the Innovation Center. This individual needs to be intimately involved and knowledgeable about start-up technologies—how to recruit them to Peoria, how to develop them within Peoria, and how to graduate and keep them in Peoria. This will be the full responsibility of someone who’ll work with the leadership of the operating entity to develop the Main Street Technology Corridor.
The commission also was pleased to hear there continues to be significant interest by a number of start-up companies to participate in the Incubator. In particular, three recent companies—Zu Chem, Firefly Energy, Inc., and Akoya—all continue to progress through their development stages.
Other encouraging good news for the Med Tech District is the physician office building on the UICOMP campus, as the University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved leasing the space to the physician group. When finalized, this will be a significant milestone for the medical school, as well as for the future of the medical community.
Finally, on September 15, there was the first planting of the “Survivor” Tulip at the Methodist Centennial Park. Dutch Gardens, Inc., a Peoria-based horticultural mail order company, developed a tall pink tulip called “Survivor” in honor of the millions of breast cancer survivors worldwide.
Hearing about these positive activities was a wonderful way to end the summer. IBI