Community Partner of the Year

The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council has been around in some form or another since the 1980s. It is the only area organization that takes a truly regional approach to economic development, fostering partnerships among government, education and corporate institutions. With a shared vision for a strong climate of business innovation, GPEDC and the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship have been key strategic partners for years.

GPEDC provides economic development services to Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Mason and Logan counties—which together comprise an Economic Development District, a federal designation for regions that agree to collaborate on a shared strategy. GPEDC helps manage this Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) while providing services in five broad areas:

  • Business Development: GPEDC assists existing businesses and helps them overcome barriers to growth. They manage a Foreign Trade Zone and organize the Greater Peoria Manufacturing Network, a coalition of manufacturers working together to market their services nationwide.
  • Innovation and Startup: GPEDC works to support an ecosystem conducive to starting new businesses. They manage The Nest coworking space, run the Co.Starters business accelerator program and are working with partners to launch the Peoria Innovation Hub.
  • Business Attraction: GPEDC markets Greater Peoria to the nation and the world, and assists businesses that wish to relocate or expand here—collaborating with government and business leaders and building relationships with site selectors and foreign consulates.
  • Workforce Solutions: GPEDC works collaboratively to build a workforce system that ensures employers can find the talent they need to fill jobs. GPEDC helps produce the Career Spark expo; develops internships with local employers; manages Hello Greater Peoria’s talent attraction activities; and assists the efforts of local recruiters.
  • Rural Economic Development/Innovation: GPEDC connects the region’s agricultural and rural resources to improve the economy and harness the potential of rural communities. They bring rural partners together around issues like industrial hemp, organic farming and value chain coordination, and work to develop assets to assist with agricultural innovation.

This fall, GPEDC and Junior Achievement will host the third annual Career Spark, an interactive career expo for eighth-grade students that exposes them to dozens of careers in the region’s most critical industries.

“On a bit longer timeframe, we have started the process of revising the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, which will help set the course for the next five years,” adds GPEDC CEO Chris Setti. “We are also excited to work with OSF HealthCare and Illinois Central College to launch the Peoria Innovation Hub, which we feel can be an amazing resource to fuel the growth of business in the region.” PM