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A Publication of WTVP

For the past several months, discussions have taken place regarding a more formal link between the Peoria Civic Federation (PCF) and the Heartland Partnership (H-P). As the PCF evolved since its formation in 2002, the need to more formalize its purpose has become clear. We must ensure a regional plan is implemented and future CEOs remain focused on the future of the Greater Peoria Region. But it raised the questions: How do we do it? What is the best way? Are there existing community organizations with which collaboration makes sense?

The PCF is an organization consisting of CEOs of key community organizations—modeled after the Commercial Club of Chicago— and is similar to other CEO groups around the country. Its initial purpose is to ensure a regional strategic plan is developed and that key initiatives and action steps are identified. Support is then provided by the PCF and its member organizations to ensure these initiatives are accomplished for the economic and social benefit of the Greater Peoria Region. In addition, the PCF encourages dialogue and communication among key stakeholders to ensure these initiatives and activities are well understood.

The Heartland Partnership is the parent of the Economic Development Council of Central Illinois, the Peoria Chamber of Commerce and other organizations designed to encourage regional economic development. In the past couple of years the H-P and its subsidiary companies have transformed into a more proactive and engaged organization that meets the needs of its members and is working hard to become more institutionalized in the Greater Peoria Area. During the past five years, under the leadership of CEO Jim McConoughey, the H-P has become a major influence on the future of Peoria.

After months of discussion between the organizations, the PCF Board reviewed the following options at its January meeting:

• Status quo
• Dissolution
• Create a formal Board linkage, but remain independent
• Align with Heartland Partnership

The PCF decided to pursue alignment with the H-P Board. For the PCF Board, it makes sense to discuss how both organizations can unite under a single purpose. This alignment is likely to be a merger where the PCF, as an organization, would be dissolved and a CEO roundtable discussion would be established with the express purpose of ensuring a regional plan is developed, maintained, monitored and implemented through the appropriate community organizations. In addition, with the recent announcement of the transformation of the Economic Development Board structure and the potential of the Economic Development Growth Experts (EDGE)—the purpose of which is to develop strategy teams—the opportunity to have a very strong, process-oriented feedback loop to CEOs would be greatly enhanced. Most importantly, it was felt the CEO group must be maintained for the success of H-P as well as for the future success of the Greater Peoria Region. Currently, details of the formal linkage are being worked out. In particular, the appropriate funding to support this new structure is being evaluated. IBI

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