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The Focus Forward Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) was developed over a two year period through a collaboration of public and private partners and over 1200 volunteers passionate about moving Greater Peoria forward with a SMART, asset-based strategy. The plan includes four pillars and a variety of goals and strategies currently being deployed by over a dozen regional organizations. The entire document can be found here.

Goal 1:  Act Regionally

Implement a regional asset based S.M.A.R.T. Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), which expands public, private and non-profit collaboration with a common strategic vision. The region will achieve a good to excellent rating for best practices in regional CEDS and collaboration by the end of 2019.

Strengthen and expand regional collaboration by creating and beginning to implement a regional best practice, performance metric asset-based S.M.A.R.T. CEDS with integrated county strategies that is annually updated.


Objective Existing Strategies
·         Assist county strategy teams with the development, updating, and implementation of economic development strategies for Logan, Mason, Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford counties integrated with Focus Forward GP (CEDS).
·         Continue and enhance performance metric-based prioritization process for selection and support of projects included in and connected to accomplishing Focus Forward GP goals.
Build the capacity of local and regional leaders to collectively and collaboratively lead and manage regional economic development strategies and goals.
Objective Existing Strategies
·         Develop an economic development education program that will build the capacity of regional leaders to collaboratively guide, manage and lead the regional economy.
·         Map and share accessible data services and resources with local community economic and workforce development entities and their clients. GP Data Hub
Expand regional economic development volunteers and raise appropriate funding to sustain the implementation of Focus Forward GP (CEDS).
Objective Existing Strategies
·         Develop and launch a communications strategy to promote Focus Forward GP (CEDS) regionally.
·         Share quarterly briefings on the progress of regional economic development efforts with all stakeholders in collaboration with economic development partners.
·         Establish and share performance metrics to communicate the effectiveness of regional economic development initiatives.
·         Establish an annual regional event to share and celebrate accomplishments.


Goal 2:  Expand Economic Performance

Implement community economic development strategies and action plans that will increase total regional wages, raise the regional average wage, and generate new state and local tax revenue.

Create new, high-quality jobs.
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Map and strengthen up to five industry clusters to include Healthcare, Manufacturing, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL), Agri-Business, and Professional and Technical Services.
·         Identify how to best leverage the manufacturing and healthcare sector expansions in the region.
·         Plan and implement strategies to leverage the region’s unique water assets as a community economic development driver.
·         Encourage municipalities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government and regulatory services focused on community economic development activities. This strategy will be based on best practices for single point of entry and one-stop 24/7 government services and lead to an improvement of business and citizen perception of the effectiveness, efficiency and customer service orientation of government services.
Increase the number of mid-size firms
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Conduct targeted business retention visits with one hundred (100) firms per year interested in expansion. Focus of the visits will be to identify internal and/or external barriers to growth and take actions to address these barriers.  
·         Map business life cycle financing and determine regional needs, availability and gaps in expertise, and types of financing and funding levels for Seed, Start-Up, Emerging or Growth, Established, Expansion and Mature Stages of the Business Cycle to enable business expansion opportunities.  
·         Identify value chain leakage opportunities within targeted industry sectors to attract or grow mid-size firms.  
·         Identify intellectual property assets within the public or private sector that can be leveraged by existing small businesses to enable them to grow into mid-size firms.  
Increase the pace of innovation, entrepreneurship, and annual business starts.
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Build an identification system to track and communicate with new business starts within 90 days of formation in the region.  
·         Map all existing regional innovation and entrepreneur development assets and identify gaps that need to be addressed. Fund and implement recommendations.  
·         Collaborate with Bradley University, Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center and the USDA Ag Lab to prioritize entrepreneur and innovation development opportunities focused in the areas of Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing, Human Healthcare, Bio-Refining, Energy Technologies, Agra-Medicine, and Ag-Tech.  
·         Grow and strengthen entrepreneur and innovation marketing and education programs to improve the culture of support in the region for innovation, risk-taking and entrepreneurs.  
·         Work with regional partners to develop and implement minority business development strategies that increase the number and capacity of those firms in our region.  
·         Implement the Region’s broadband strategy to ensure equitable access in urban and rural areas.  


Goal 3: Improve Human Capital

Ensure a plentiful workforce supply by increasing total population; the prime workforce demographic of 25-44 year old citizens; and the labor force participation rate.

Create a talent pipeline focused on regional career readiness and career pathways.
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Establish a central, accessible website to assist in the personal development of students, job seekers and employees. The resource will communicate the human skills, talents, behaviors and attitudes required by targeted career and job classifications.
·         Develop and deploy a communications campaign for employers, students, parents, job seekers, education and training providers to shift the region’s focus towards a broader understanding of the most in-demand career opportunities and the educational and career pathways required to access these opportunities.
·         Develop a system of career pathways for manufacturing and healthcare sectors in the region, which includes required human skills, talents, behaviors and attitudes, industry recognized credentials and educational training attainment benchmarks. GP Pathways
·         Develop and implement apprenticeship programs that lead to certifications and associate degrees in the region’s most critically needed career pathways.
·         Design a system of analytics that continuously assesses the capacity and effectiveness of the region’s talent supply pipeline to respond to changing trends and meet ongoing market demand.
Continue regional workforce alliance to effectively connect and align private and public sector workforce development initiatives and resources across the region.
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Identify and share employment needs, trends and talent gaps with workforce development stakeholders and the community at large. Greater Peoria Workforce Analysis
·         Leverage manufacturing and healthcare learning exchanges to identify current and future workforce needs and then align funding and resources to meet those needs.
·         Implement targeted talent development strategies that will decrease under-employment and unemployment with a focus in under-served and under-performing rural and urban communities.
Increase the number of 25-44 year old citizens to meet the increased demand for prime working age employees and entrepreneurs.
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Collaborate with higher education institutions to develop programs to retain college students after they graduate.
·         Design and implement a talent attraction campaign for mapping and communicating creative economy and livable community assets and events of interest to young professionals.
·         Engage and support young professional groups in the development of projects that are focused on improving the Quality of Place attractiveness of the region for young professionals.


Goal 4: Value and Enhance Our Quality of Life

Quantify, communicate and embed the importance of the unique rural and urban values of the way we live, work and play to all who live in the region. Enhance the way of life to attract others to the region through a focus on healthy and livable communities.

Increase the perception of the region as a desirable play destination
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Enhance community awareness & appreciation of the visitor industry.
·         Work to increase utilization of the Peoria Civic Center.
·         Advocate for destination-enhancing development.
·         Analyze opportunities to increase the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau budget to a competitive level.
Develop and implement a healthy community strategy to enhance the quality of life and workforce health that addresses strategic goals around improved population health, education, and income
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Identify and focus on improvement in our region’s rates for the top three most critical chronic diseases versus state and national benchmarks, attaining best in country performance by 2030. Identify, prioritize and reach consensus on the top three regional population health improvement opportunities (as identified by the Community Health Needs Assessments, Health Department Assessments and United Way Community Assessment). Develop multi-generational implementation plan.
·         Develop and implement a healthy community strategy and implementation plan that provides evidence-based recommendations that are most likely to reduce the burden of the leading causes of preventable death and major illness. Population health improvement goals should align with Healthy People 2020 goals and National Prevention Strategy 2030 goals.
·         Develop a collaborative, comprehensive, community health education strategy and implementation plan that focuses on, and measures, behavioral changes and resulting health outcomes. Enhance linkages between clinical care and community health prevention activities, including education programs, screening activities, etc. Improve educational outcomes in targeted underserved communities and/or populations through an integrated approach by identifying, developing, and implementing a pilot Population Health Education Improvement Program for the region. Launch community wide program. Establish a minimum per capita funding level to support community health “prevention” initiatives.
·         Develop a comprehensive community health improvement performance tracking and reporting initiative that (1) aligns with our communities health improvement priorities, and (2) aligns with generally accepted health metrics as defined by the Health and Human Services Department in the Healthy People 2020 and National Prevention Strategy programs. All goals to meet or exceed goals called out by Healthy People 2020 and National Prevention Strategy 2030.
Create a collaborative culture of livable communities throughout the region that is based on American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Ten Livable Community Standards
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Define livable community priorities for urban and rural communities that leverage the planning and design resources of the AIA, University of Illinois and the Urban Land Institute.
·         Launch a livable community forum that communicates the value and importance of livable community standards as a magnet for attracting 25-44 year old professionals and firms to the region.
·         Complete locally developed livable community strategies which have a priority focus on creating more vibrant 24/7 urban downtown and rural town centers.
·         Define and establish regional capacity building resources within the Greater Peoria EDC or TCRPC to assist local community economic development teams to implement and maintain livable community strategies and action plans.
Develop a comprehensive regional housing market analysis, strategy, and implementation plan that addresses the region’s housing needs and begins to meet those needs
Objectives Existing Strategies
·         Conduct a comprehensive regional housing market analysis that focuses both on current market supply and demand, as well as future supply and demand. This analysis should consider housing needs and preferences at different income levels in rural and urban communities for owner-occupied, rental, young professionals, special needs, workforce, and active senior living environments.
·         In conjunction with the livable community forums, communicate the value of diverse housing alternatives for attracting work and workers to both rural and urban communities, which expands economic development and improves quality of life while meeting the identified demand from the regional housing market analysis.
·         Develop a comprehensive regional housing strategy based upon the results of the regional housing market analysis and the SMART job creation goals.
·         Define and establish the regional capacity-building resources and tools necessary to stimulate public and private investment to develop alternative housing opportunities in conjunction with rural and urban livable community strategies. Implement at least 15 developments that meet the diverse housing preferences of targeted populations across the region with at least one in each county.
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