A Publication of WTVP

In March 2005, the Peoria City Council approved the Peoria Medical-Technology District’s Master Comprehensive Plan, its objectives, and 2005 budget of $830,689. In addition, in its future plans for the city in the next several years, $750,000 per year for 2006 to 2009 was tentatively budgeted for the Med Tech District. The commission understood the planned amount of $750,000 per year couldn’t be approved and was always subject to change. The commission felt the city’s commitment, along with the other private developments occurring in the district, would be a tremendous boon. As we left the council meeting, we were confident our goals and objectives over the next several years had an excellent chance for success.

We’ve recently been informed the budget amount for 2006 has been reduced to $450,000. The city had tentatively committed $150,000 per year to assist in the development of a not-for-profit operating entity that would be dedicated exclusively to developing the Main Street Corridor. The city’s commitment of $150,000 was to be matched by Peoria Next. The total of $300,000 was intended to recruit an individual with experience in recruiting, developing, and graduating technology firms; the individual responsible to exclusively develop Main Street; and an assistant who initially would support both. All three individuals were to be housed in the new Peoria Next Innovation Center.

As a result of this commitment by the city and Peoria Next to develop the West Main Street Corridor, the neighborhoods initially were supportive of potentially creating a Special Services District. The purpose would be to tax the residents of neighborhoods that supported it to enhance features of the neighborhoods, such as streetscape, lighting, sidewalks, etc. All activities would be consistent with the approved comprehensive master plan.

The city modified its position regarding its commitment to the operating entity as it reviewed its budget for 2006. Accordingly, they’ve informed us that instead of committing $150,000 for the development of this entity in conjunction with Peoria Next, they intend to hire an individual within the Economic Development Department under its new director, Craig Hullinger. This new individual largely will be dedicated to the West Main Street development but will have other responsibilities, as well, on behalf of the city. The commission is anxious to hear from the city how it’s going to assist us in accomplishing our goals and objectives.

The commission’s priorities for 2006 will remain largely the same. We have approximately $800,000 left over from 2005. Combined with the projected $450,000 for 2006, we have approximately $1.25 million. The number one priority remains the Columbia Terrace streetscape project. We still hope to either acquire significant parcels of land or utilize funds to ignite major developments; continue to work with District 150 on the development of a math, science and technology magnet program that’s important to institutions and the neighborhood; and finalize a marketing/brand identification campaign.

Happy holidays to all. IBI