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A Publication of WTVP

With the recent vacancy of the Executive Director position at the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (PACVB), a very serious discussion has opened up about the structure of the PACVB, the role it plays in the region, and the qualifications of the next individual to lead that organization. This is an interesting dynamic which will have an impact on Renaissance Park, as well as the business community at large.

One of the options that I hope the PACVB Board will strongly consider would be to link the PACVB into the Heartland Partnership (H-P). A number of people over the past several years have stressed the importance of the Greater Peoria Region and the business community promoting the same “brand”, working together to promote a consistent message to external customers, as well as the local community. Having a single brand image that everyone could support was one of the goals of the former Vision 2020 program and is now on the agenda of the Peoria Civic Federation and Heartland Partnership. Linking the PACVB into the Heartland Partnership, whether formally or informally, will further integrate the fragmented business organizations into one unified group.

Currently there are several activities underway which should lead toward a more cohesive unification of the business community. Again, the Peoria Civic Federation and Heartland Partnership are having discussions regarding the appropriate roles each group will play. Peoria NEXT is evaluating its operational role as it relates to Bradley University and, in particular, HITEC (Bradley’s Heartland Illinois Technology Enterprise Center). Linking the PACVB with the Heartland Partnership would directly or indirectly link all of the key economic development organizations. A model for this type of collaboration can be found in a nearby city which a number of our community and business leaders have visited, Louisville, Kentucky. Greater Louisville, Inc., the equivalent of our Heartland Partnership, managed the entire economic development process for the city of Louisville and the greater region, including marketing and its own Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Over the past several years, our community has seen the coming together of its business community. In particular, under the leadership of Jim McConoughey, newly recruited COO Vickie Clark, and other talented individuals, the Economic Development Council of Central Illinois is putting into place the infrastructure necessary to build and promote a regional economic development engine. Integrating the PACVB into that organization may lead to greater operating efficiencies and provide better support for its role in bringing business and conventions to the Greater Peoria Region.

Like anything else, there are histories, politics, and personalities that would have to be discussed. But a unified business community with a unified message based around a unified brand would have a greater chance of building our economic base for the long term. And that would be great for Renaissance Park. IBI

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