A Publication of WTVP

Year-end is always a time for us to reflect back on what we've accomplished and what our intentions are for the future. It isn't uncommon to do this in our personal lives, nor is it uncommon to review accomplishments in our professional endeavors. How often do we take stock in our accomplishments as a region and a community, though? More importantly, how do we evaluate what we must do to accomplish our collective future goals?

The Heartland Partnership family of companies includes the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council. These two organizations have initiated a truly impressive number of projects recently. The EDC activity is more visible and proactive than ever before, targeting attraction activities on the intermodal logistics industry through Port District activities, technology commercialization through their role as the business entity for Peoria NEXT, and the renewable energy industry through various lead attraction mechanisms and industry networking events. Their facilitation programs have connected businesses with the funding they need to grow, expand, and generate employment throughout the region time and time again.

And look at the numbers. Through EDC and Chamber activities, 112 businesses have presented at NEXT Steps forums, and 304 entrepreneurs have participated in NOVUS entrepreneurial networking events. More than $83,000 has been raised to keep the 182nd Air Guard base intact, 114 pre-qualified high net-worth investors are participating in the Heartland Angel Network, and $400,000 has been invested in local tech start-ups by the Tri-County Venture Capital Fund. More than 100 new jobs have been created, and $58 million in investment has taken place through the work of these organizations. An additional $1 million in infrastructure improvement grants have been received by communities in the tri-county area. Proposed home rule sales tax increases were reduced, resulting in savings of $2.8 million, and $278 million in exports are processed through Foreign Trade Zone 114 each year. Approximately 10,000 people connected and learned at organized networking events, $750,000 was secured and is being administered for workforce development in the community, and 15,517 students in District 150 schools benefit from programs offered through partnerships with our organizations.

These advancements don't happen by themselves, and they don't happen in times of "business as usual." They happen when a team of people working with one voice on behalf of the region applies unprecedented dedication and commitment to the task at hand. They happen when dynamic volunteer boards direct innovative regional policy.

These essential successes can only continue to happen with your engagement and support. The establishment of our current initiatives has required tremendous investment on behalf of our organizations and many of our community partners. We're thankful for this support.

Simply establishing these initiatives won't create the sustainable growth and prosperity needed. If we're unable to act on the initial groundwork that's been laid by the Chamber and EDC, our efforts won't have been well spent. Ongoing implementation, proactive evolution, and aggressive initiatives are what will result in sustainable results and real bottom line impact for the region. We can't do it without your support.

The Heartland Partnership has launched a call to action for the greater Peoria region. This is an opportunity for our companies, organizations, and communities to give themselves and their people the best gift possible: the gift of investment in sustainable growth, prosperity, and community wealth. Without the work of The Heartland Partnership family of companies, many of the initiatives that show such promise today would be left without an opportunity for implementation. IBI