New initiatives have begun that, if successful, will shape the future of Peoria. Representative David Leitch recently announced that $1.5 million has been secured in the FY 2002 state budget to be used for planning a Comprehensive Cancer Center on the campus of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP). This is a community-based collaborative effort by UICOMP, Methodist Medical Center, OSF Saint Francis, Oncology/Hematology Associates, and the Cancer Center for Healthy Living.
A second project that has received tremendous visibility, as well as community and editorial support, is the joint effort between the various museum constituencies, including Lakeview and the Peoria Historic Society. Congressman Ray LaHood has publicly supported the continued efforts of these two groups to work toward a single museum site. There are many who believe it should be a component of a regional development strategy located on the Sears block, or possibly a cultural arts district near the Peoria Art Guild and Contemporary Arts Center along the riverfront.
A third project, and yet another collaborative effort, is the Peoria Regional Biotechnology/Biomedical Strategy. Still in the very early stages, key leaders in the business, medical and education community, along with our elected officials, have engaged an outside consultant to further develop Peoria’s biomedical capabilities—Dr. Justin Rao from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
What brought these parties together is an ambitious vision and the realization that a united effort is needed to achieve it. Visions of these proportions require a pooling of resources and unparalleled focus to bring to fruition. Common dreams and collaboration are essential elements for true economic and cultural development.
It is very clear that the people in this community are watching these projects to see if they are going to be successful. Our community is beginning to understand that these projects offer the opportunity to shape Peoria for decades to come.
Building long-term projects for the future is not a new concept. It takes patience, understanding and real commitment. It behooves everyone involved in these initiatives to explore every avenue and find a way to make these projects successful. It won’t be easy.
The success of these projects may take years. For example, I suspect the collaborative museum complex may take close to five years before it is finally built, completed and opened. To be designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center generally takes three to 10 years from the date planning begins. Development of a biotechnical/biomedical endeavor may take 10 to 25 years.
The business community’s commitment is essential. Opportunities with this kind of impact do not arise everyday; when they do, we need to take advantage of them. These initiatives lay the groundwork for Peoria’s future. Could it be any more exciting? IBI