Peoria has a rather strong economic engine that’s been in place for more than 300 years. This community was welcoming visitors to the banks of the Illinois River long before Chicago was ever founded by Jean Baptiste Dusable—who actually lived in Peoria before he went up the Illinois River to establish a fur trading post that’s now Chicago.
Our long history of hospitality has contributed significantly to the economic base of Peoria and the surrounding areas. This environmentally friendly industry touches nearly every aspect of the business community. It has a more significant impact because the money left behind from those visiting our attractions, attending a convention, or visiting friends and family is money generated outside of our local economy. It’s new money that’s infused into our shopping centers, gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and attractions.
This “new money” is then spent indirectly by businesses that benefit directly from the visitor dollar on goods and services within the community and by their employees for goods and services. The life of the visitor dollar re-circulates as many as three to four times before its economic impact begins to diminish.
In addition to economic impact, the hospitality industry has many other ancillary benefits. The various attractions and events developed for visitors are also ones residents enjoy. In other words, local residents can and do become visitors in their own hometown. Consequently, the quality of life for residents is substantially improved and enhanced.
Promoting the hospitality industry is about creating an image and a market position for the destination. The image created is one that highlights the attributes of the community while establishing unique products that encourage a visitor to come and experience the destination. This image and market position can and does generate pride within the community, as well as entice new residents and businesses to locate in Peoria or the surrounding area.
The business of the hospitality industry touches nearly every aspect of the community. It’s a business that’s a service industry and one that Peoria and other surrounding communities have embraced as a significant part of their economic base. This contribution to the economic base lowers the tax burden of local residents and provides money for various capital improvements. It’s a business that generates local pride and improves the quality of life for residents. It’s a business that encourages new residents and businesses to locate here and, as a result, further broadens the economic and tax base.
So the next time you see someone looking at a visitor guide or wearing a convention delegate name tag, greet them and thank them for visiting Peoria. It’s this type of Midwestern hospitality for which we’re known. It’s what our forefathers did 300 years ago. And it’s this type of hospitality that will grow this industry to be an even greater economic engine. IBI