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The Big Table promotes regional community building through conversations designed to strengthen and connect communities. Through open, thoughtful conversations that focus on how we can strengthen our region, we will spark new relationships and new ways for working together by deepening our understanding of each other and what our region needs.


  • Promote Positivity & Community Input
  • Regional Vision for the Future
  • Regional Data for Everyone



The Big Table Makes a return to an In-Person Event this year!

Register Below to Join the Conversation


If you are interested in leading conversations around the four sessions during the big table event, please click the button below to sign up to be become a Table Facilitator.


October 19 – 22, 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM

Thanks for joining us at The (Virtual) Big Table 2020! Please find the session videos below.
The 2020 Final Report is available for download below.

Oct 19: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Session Leaders:
Rita Ali, ICC
Brian Ray, PNC
Joshua Gunn, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce

Oct 20: Workforce & Education

Session Leaders:
Dr. Sheila Quirk Bailey, Illinois Central College
Beth Crider, Regional Office of Education
Laraine Bryson, Tri -County Peoria Urban League

Oct 21: Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Session Leaders:
Chris Setti, Greater Peoria Economic Development Council
Jake Hamann, Peoria Innovation Alliance/Distillery Labs
Samantha Hutchinson, Bear’s Bites
Eric Sampson, Illinois SBDC

Oct 22: Quality of Life

Session Leaders:
Nikki Romain, ART Inc
J.D. Dalfonso, Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
John Morris, Peoria Riverfront Museum


These conversations resulted in The Big Table: Greater Peoria Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is a regional planning document. The CEDS is a tool for organizing and coordinating economic development goals for the Central Illinois region that includes Logan, Mason, Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties. You can learn more about the strategy, progress being made and download a copy of the strategy below.

Participants from all over our region are invited to attend!
The map below shows all the counties that were represented at the 2020 event.

Many Voices. One Vision.



The Big Table: Gather Around Justice

The Big Table: Gather Around Justice seeks to foster mindful conversation around how we can use our individual power and privilege to make the changes our region needs to correct historic racial, economic, and social inequities.

HR & Organizational Policies

Welcome & Introduced by:
Joshua Gunn – President & CEO, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce

Moderated by:
Brian Ray – Regional President at PNC Bank

Laraine Bryson – President at Tri-County Urban League
Tom Alexander – Co-Founder & CEO at Holistic & Consultant at Distillery Labs
Eric Sutter – Senior Vice President of HR at EP!C

Criminal Justice Reform

Welcome & Introduced by:
Joshua Gunn – President & CEO, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce

Moderated by:
Brent Baker – Director of Workforce Solutions, GPEDC

Chris McCall – Family & Criminal Defense Attorney
Johanes Maliza – Central District Assistant Federal Public Defender
Nia Mcfarland-Drye -Mitigation Specialist for Central District Federal Public Defender Office/NAACP
Carl Holloway – Executive Director of MAY-I Outreach

Panel Discussion

Mariah Cooley – Young Revolution
Sheriff Brian Asbell – Peoria County
Dr. Rita Ali – ICC, Peoria City Council

Moderated by Andre Allen – Higher Education Administration

On June 23, our panelists and community gathered virtually for mindful conversations around how we can use our individual power and privilege to make the changes our region needs to correct historic racial, economic, and social inequities.  Watch the recording of this discussion to the right.


The inaugural Big Table Greater Peoria  event took place on October 15, 2019 and attracted over 700 attendees. The survey data and qualitative input collected at the event has been analyzed and compiled into a report.


Workforce Development
  Regional Workforce Development Alliance
  • WORKING GOAL: Create the regional workforce required to stabilize and grow our economy by systemically connecting employers, educators, community based organizations with high school graduates, the under-credentialed and multiple barriered adults to ensure 60% of our population has the required credentials to obtain gainful employment.This committee is taking a stakeholder approach and is made up of three subcommittees:
  • Emerging Workforce:  Support regional K – 12 schools in implementation of multiple college and career readiness strategies with an intentional focus on connecting local employers into pathways, promoting financial literacy, and the award of valuable industry credentials. Co-chairs: Brent Baker bbaker@greaterpeoriaedc.org , Beth Crider bcrider@peoriaroe.org.
  • Upskilling Committee – Targets underemployed and under credentialed adults with work experience to obtain credentials that address workforce gaps in full-time jobs offering at least 30% above a living wage. Co-chairs: Jamel Wright jwright@eureka.edu, Don Shafer donald.shafer@pnc.com
  • Multiple Barriers – The employer driven project will address the holistic need of individuals with multiple barriers for their entry to high quality educational pathways leading to family sustaining careers. Co-chairs: Laraine Bryson lebryson@tcpul.com, Dr. Rita Ali Rali@icc.edu

Each of these committees are meeting regularly and have established strategies and goals.
Please contact co-chairs to get involved.

   Illinois Migrant Council
Diversity & Inclusion
  Minority Business Development Center
  • The Minority Business Development Center offers a wide range of business education assistance and workforce development. Learn more.
  Greater Peoria Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
   Peoria Innovation Hub Working Groups
  • The Peoria Innovation Hub needs  a collaborative community effort to help shape its future. Join a working group to stay in the loop and help shape the space’s future. Connect atwww.peoriahub.com/workinggroups.
   1 Million Cups Peoria
  • A monthly event (every 1st Wednesday at the Nest Coworking) that brings together entrepreneurs and the Greater Peoria community over coffee and conversation. Learn more at www.1millioncups.com/pia.
   Startup Greater Peoria Facebook
   Start Here Greater Peoria
  • This is a catch-all group if you’re new in town and looking to connect with a diverse group of people across industries in the Greater Peoria region. Connect at www.meetup.com/starthere.
Quality of Life & Place
More coming soon!

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Submit an event, meeting, initiative, or idea for us to share.


Workforce Development & Education

Quality of Life & Place

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Diversity & Inclusion


Conversation Guide
Conversation Guide
Social Media Tips
Social Media Tips
Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet
Regional Data
Regional Data

The Big Table Greater Peoria is supported by:

Black Business Alliance
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