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A Publication of WTVP

The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce’s mission includes this statement: “We are a proactive organization providing value to members through strategic leadership on critical business issues and commerce-enhancing products and services.” Over the past several weeks, this part of our mission has been clearly demonstrated through two important projects.

First, we spearheaded the fundraising to allow continued operation of the Truancy Assessment Center at District 150 for the next three years—which means raising $120,000. The Chamber offered to do this for three reasons:

It is the right thing to do. Kids need to be in school to get a good education. As adults, it is our responsibility to make sure they do that. The Truancy Center has been successful in addressing the problems that both children and parents have in getting the students re-engaged in school.

The students in school today are the employees of Chamber member companies tomorrow. Our businesses need employees that are educated, interested in learning and come to work regularly. Good school attendance helps develop all of these characteristics.

Finally, the Chamber continues to advocate for the School District to get its financial house in order. It is critical for the long term viability of the district. The original funding for the Center was from grant sources that unfortunately did not renew. Additionally, the District has staffing levels for the 14,000+ students who are enrolled. They can’t reduce staff because some kids don’t show up on a particular day, but the funding from the state is reduced when students aren’t there, as it is based on average daily attendance. Improving attendance helps educate the kids and brings revenue into the district—and that’s a win for everyone.

Another example of the Chamber proactively assisting local businesses is the formation of our electricity purchasing cooperative. The cooperative helps companies reduce the rate of increase on their electricity bills. Businesses are facing increases in electricity costs of 50 percent and more. The Peoria Chamber, in conjunction with the Decatur and Champaign Chambers, are the first in the state to form a purchasing cooperative like this. In this first round of the co-op, 145 members joined our purchasing group. We anticipate that we will go to market to purchase electricity sometime in March. Based on the experience of similar groups in other states and the purchases made by our consultant for individual clients in Illinois, we are anticipating a 10 percent savings off of the default rate. If your company is interested in being part of the electricity purchasing cooperative, let us know and we will open another class this spring. And stay tuned for other important initiatives of the Chamber that provide “strategic leadership on critical business issues and commerce-enhancing products and services.”

We still have work to do to secure all $120,000 for the Truancy Center. But thanks to the generosity of many businesses and individuals, we have over $88,000 committed. If you want to help, please call the Chamber office at 676-0755. IBI

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