FFCI: A Progress Report

by Frank Knott
ViTAL Economy

Under the leadership of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, we launched the region’s first asset-based, goal-driven Community Economic Development (CED) strategy last summer. The Foundation Milestone, the first step of the journey, was held in July at the Peoria Civic Center with 240+ actively engaged participants. Three action teams have been launched to develop SMART Goals, Sense of Urgency and Quality of Place.

The Policy Steering Committee (PSC), overseen by Jim Baumgartner, director of public affairs at Caterpillar Inc., is charged with oversight and governance of the regional strategy, while the Technical Working Group (TWG) oversees the implementation of its recommendations. For the first time in the region’s history, the 25-member TWG brought together nearly all of the community, economic and workforce development and planning practitioners from all four counties to work collaboratively for the betterment of the region.

The PSC approved the overall goal for the creation of 13,000+ additional jobs, adding $1.75 billion in new annual wages and $33 million in new annual state and local tax revenue by 2018. The committee also authorized the launch of a Budget Action Team and four county action teams to develop county-level strategies linked to the regional strategy.

In October, the second milestone of the ViTAL Economy journey, the Discovery Milestone, was launched in East Peoria. It introduced more than 125 regional leaders to the new five-year goals and to the concept of mapping the unique indigenous assets of central Illinois and how they could be leveraged to create unique growth opportunities. An EDC Action Team and Workforce Action Tea m were also created.

In November, action team meetings were held in all four counties, and nearly 400 attendees successfully discovered and mapped the region’s unique assets that could be leveraged for economic growth. Additionally, a Hispanic community session was held in Peoria, and meetings were held with leaders of the Lincoln-Logan Economic Development Corporation to begin the process of bringing Logan into FFCI as a fifth county in the region’s Economic Development District. The Gen-Y action team was also launched to address FFCI goals for the 25-to-44-year old demographic, with more than 50 participants expressing interest in leading this effort. For more information or to get involved, visit focusforwardci.com. iBi

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