Since coming to the Heartland Partnership, it has been my goal, as well as the organization’s goal, to create the most diverse and competent economic development engine possible for this region. As trends change and new opportunities surface, we continue to create jobs and add the appropriate organizations to fulfill the region’s needs, such as TransPORT (The Heart of Illinois Regional Port District). I am now excited to announce the addition of another organization which will widen the scope of our family into the area’s technology commercialization—Peoria NEXT.
The Peoria NEXT Board of Directors has agreed to align itself under the Heartland Partnership family of companies. As a result, we will provide administrative assistance to the organization and assist the newly appointed president of Peoria NEXT. It will be the job of the president to take the organization and technology commercialization in our region to the NEXT level.
The Peoria NEXT Board knew that the decision to hire a president could forever change the organization. We have a tremendous opportunity to hire an individual with the experience and skillset needed to fully engage Peoria NEXT.
Thankfully, I believe we found that individual. Kyle Ham, the former vice president of the Heartland Partnership, has been named the first president and chief operating officer of Peoria NEXT. In his new position, Ham will be responsible for the daily operations of the organization which were previously fulfilled primarily by volunteers. The board of directors has also agreed upon a strategic plan which was created with help from Caterpillar.
Ham’s past experience in economic development with the Heartland Partnership will be an invaluable asset, as will his knowledge gained in government service as an aide to former Attorney General Jim Ryan and as the elected mayor of Toulon.
I’d like to congratulate Ham and urge all of you to watch for continued growth from Peoria NEXT, and, as a result, our region as well. IBI