Blog Peoria

Blog Peoria is an effort to get all the bloggers in the region networked back into a master blog. The effort led by Bill Dennis should improve communications and networking. Take a look at the blogs listed under:

Riverfront Photos


Amazing Home Values in Peoria

List Price $99,900

MLS #1104617

A 4 bedroom home with
3,280 square feet of living space.


Date: December 23, 2008

Released by: Alma Brown, Communications Manager, 494-8554, 453-4070


Peoria – As the national economy declines, and local businesses and families make financial sacrifices, the City of Peoria continues to prepare itself for any possible downturn in revenues. In early December, the City Council unanimously approved the budget for fiscal year 2009. This “maintenance budget” sustained service levels without raising taxes. The revenue projections that comprise the underpinnings of the budget were very conservative and reflective of the economic climate. The City’s finance staff has a long track record of correctly projecting revenues. Remarkably, especially in consideration of the national picture, 2008 revenues to date are generally 1% higher than estimated last year.

On the expense side, the 2009 budget made some realistic adjustments to operations that will save money. Each department made sacrifices, including the elimination of 3 positions. Some capital purchases and improvements have been delayed for one year. Reorganization of the City’s health benefits program has saved nearly $2 million.

“The 2009 budget process helped us lay the groundwork for better cooperation and planning,” says Mayor Jim Ardis. “The work is not yet done, though. Families in Peoria, especially in light of recent announcements from Caterpillar, are taking a hard look at their finances and deciding where they might need to make cuts. The City always looks to use tax dollars most efficiently, but those efforts will be re-doubled in the coming months.”

Beyond the measures taken during the budget process, the City is identifying a number of cost-cutting steps. Those steps include:

Instituting a sensible hiring freeze starting on January 1, 2009;
Implementing recommendations from a recently completed report by the Energy Efficiency Task Force that will reduce fuel and electricity costs;
Reducing the number of employee take-home cars; and,
Realizing a savings of approximately $150,000 in the City’s refuse collection contract.

In early January, at the direction of the City Council, the entire senior staff of the City will gather for a series of workshops that will identify further contingency plans to be enacted if revenues are depressed. The finance staff is constantly monitoring receipts in order to identify trends before they become realities.

Despite some negative news stories, there is also a good deal of positive news in Peoria. “Things really are better in Peoria,” added Mayor Ardis. “We certainly do not diminish the impact of recent announcements on area families and businesses, but considering the national economic climate, Peoria has been truly resilient.”

The Mayor pointed to a number of healthy signs, including the stability and affordability of the housing market, growth in the medical sector, and relative strength in the Peoria retail market. Further, a number of large construction projects, either in progress or planned, will help keep people employed. Those projects include Bradley University’s Athletic Performance Center, the expansions at Methodist Medical Center and OSF St. Francis Hospital, and the new terminal building at the Peoria International Airport. The recently approved Marriott Pere Marquette hotel project will create hundreds of other construction jobs in the coming months.

One key role of local government is to ensure the vitality of the economy, which is evidenced by the projects listed above and others. It is also the responsibility of the City’s leadership to be constantly monitoring its finances and adjusting and sacrificing when necessary. As stewards of the citizens’ resources, the Mayor, City Council and City staff will continue to live within its means while providing the best possible services to Peoria.

EDC News

Economic Climate Report

On December 8th, over 200 business leaders, media and general public listened intently as speakers shared their insights on the regional and national economic situation. The event, held at the Michel Student Center Ballroom on the Bradley University Campus, featured two economists from Bradley and Jim McConoughey, president of The Heartland Partnership.Click here to check out the presentations.

EDC is Now Soliciting Sites for Retail Study

The Retail Strategy Group for the EDC is about to launch a regional retail study. The EDC is in the process of accepting sites to be included in the upcoming study which will provide the information regarding retail potential for each targeted development/redevelopment site.

Click here for more information on the Retail Study.


Chicago, St. Louis, & the Heartland

The two largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in Illinois are Chicago to the north and St Louis to the south. But the composite area formed by the MSA's of Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, Champaign, Decatur, and Springfield also form a significant metro area. The cost of doing business in our region is lower, housing is more affordable, and there are very few traffic delays. Small is beautiful.

MSA ______________Population_ Median Household
_____________________________ Income

Chicago–Gary–Kenosha_9,157,540___ __$51,046
St. Louis, MO–IL _____ 2,603,607 __ _ __44,437
Heartland Composite _ 1,056,543__ _ _ _ 42,103

1. Heartland Composite includes non MSA Counties

Bloomington–Normal____150,433_____ $47,021
Champaign–Urbana_____179,669______ 37,780
Decatur, IL___________ 114,706______ 37,859
Peoria–Pekin_________ 347,387______ 42,986
Springfield___________ 201,437______ 43,180

The link below shows the

Metropolitan Statistical Areas of Illinois.


The blog below shows a larger Heartland including Danville and the Quad Cities, with about 1,700,000 people.







Gret new medical community investment the:

Illinois Medical Center
Long Term Acute Care Hospital
OSF Children’s Hospital
Methodist Hospital Expansion
Illinois Eye Center
Heart Care Midwest

Completed I-74 Reconstruction
Created a Public Private Partnership for a Full Service Marriott Hotel
Created the Hospitality Improvement Zone and Business District
Developed the Southern Gateway Plan
Developed the Eagle View aand Warehouse District Plans
Demolished Sears Block for Caterpillar Visitor Center and new Museum
Continued Commercial Expansion at Grand Prairie

Sustainable Development and Green Technology Commission formed
Developed the Innovation Center to Expand High Tech Businesses
Implemented the Renaissance Park and Heart of Peoria Plan
Developed Prospect and Sheridan Road Revitalization Plan
Expanded and improved the Enterprise Zone
Ten Tax Increment Financing District redevelopments underway
Three New School / Neighborhood Improvement Zones planned
Assisted the start up of Globe Energy, Drumheller Bag and Firefly

More Photos & Info




Printable version in Word on the link below:




Housing Prices

Very interesting graphic above.
The source of the image and some interesting info about Peoria on the page below:

Full Service Marriott Hotel Approved

The City Council approved the Full Service Marriott Hotel last night.  The Public Private Partnership between the City of Peoria and EM Properties Ltd will see the redevelopment of the historic Pere Marquette Hotel into a 475 to 500 room hotel. A new 200 plus room tower will be built, and the Pere rehabbed to Marriott standards. An elevated connector will be built to the Civic Center.

This improvement will enable the City of Peoria to recapture the "Queen City" status of being the conference and convention center for the middle of Illinois. This will be the largest hotel south of Chicago in Illinois, connected to the largest Convention Center.

More info on:

Watch the Video at:


Good Scoop from the Heartland Partnership

Local Officials Want To Have Economic Stimulus Project List Ready Soon


1470 WMBD Jonny King Reporting

Officials in central Illinois want to be ready to go with specific projects when and if the new federal administration makes good on an economic stimulus plan. 


Hoping For Big Bucks From Obama
Central Illinois Proud - Bloomington,IL,USA
Heartland Partnership President Jim McConoughey says, "What we need to be able to do is assemble the projects into a list that has economic development ...

Peoria weathering the economic storm for now


Ed Hammond Reporting 1470 WMBD

A lesson in the national and local economy takes place at Bradley University. Heartland Partnership teamed with Bradley to gather civic and business leaders to talk about how Peoria is affected by the recession.


BU seminar shares economic prognosis
Peoria Journal Star - Peoria,IL,USA
BU economists Bob Scott and Joshua Lewer reviewed what led to the economic meltdown and offered a look at government efforts designed to head off further ...


Economic Analysis
WEEK-TV - East Peoria,IL,USA
(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams) By Gina Ford Despite the economic recession, Peoria continues to thrive...tonight Bradley University and Heartland Partnership ...

Economy a challenge for eateries
Peoria Journal Star - Peoria,IL,USA
Soaring gas prices caused people to cut back on going out," said Jim McConoughey, president and CEO of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce. ...

Sears block deadline extended

By John Sharp

of the Journal Star

Posted Dec 09, 2008 @ 11:58 PM

PEORIA — A deadline extension of a redevelopment agreement for the old Sears block into the much-discussed Riverfront museum was approved by the City Council Tuesday.


Mark your calendars! 

Peoria Robotics $850,000 grant announcement

December 19, 2008 8:30 a.m.

Peoria Next Innovation Center

801 W. Main Street


Sustainable Development

Great articles on Sustainability in the Peoria Magazine.
Check it out at:

More information on Sustainability and Green Technology in Peoria at:


Look for economic hard times to continue into next year, but expect signs of improvement by the third quarter of 2009.

That was the consensus of participants in a seminar Monday at Bradley University where 200 people gathered to hear about the national financial crisis.

Read about it at:



The current issue of IBI Peoria Magazine issue focuses on Economic Develpoment. 

Read about it at:




Wind powers ArcelorMittal Steel Mill in Gary

November 27th, 2008
(Merrillville) Post-Tribune
By Gitte Laasby, Post-Tribune staff writer glaasby@post-trib.com GARY - For the past year, 220 workers at ArcelorMittal's plate mill in Gary have been the best-kept secret in Northwest Indiana. To them, "green jobs" is more than a catch phrase in a presidential election campaign. It's food on the table every day. Nearly a year ago to the day, the workers rolled their first slab of plate steel at the Gary mill formerly owned by U.S. Steel. ArcelorMittal spent $35 million to revamp and reopen the plant, allowing the company to meet increasing demand from the energy market. Much of the steel is used for windmills, and demand is growing.

Read more: http://www2.chicagosouthlandedc.org/2008/11/27/wind-powers-arcelormittal-steel-mill-in-gary/

Article courtesy of Reggie Greenwood, Director of Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation.


Happy Thanksgiving


Property for sale in the Warehouse District

It is a tough time to sell a home, but a good time to buy one. The Federal Government has passed a tax credit program for a first time homebuyer. It only lasts for a limited time, so look it over carefully to see if it can help you buy that first home.

The City also has some programs to help low and moderate income people buy homes. Call the City Planning Department for more information. Call 309 494 8600 for more information.


You call that a River, Chicago?

Chicago is Green with Envy when comparing the Chicago River with the Illinois River in Peoria.

Written by a recovering Chicagoan. I still love her but I left her.

More Photos Below:



Renaissance Park

Rivers Edge Redevelopment Iniative http://riverssedgeredevelopmentiniative.blogspot.com/

River Trail Drive

LIFE's Photo Archive

Ten million images in total will soon be available on a new hosted image service from Google, Time Inc. has announced. Ninety-seven percent of the photographs have never been seen by the public.

These images can be found when conducting a search on Google.com or on Google Image Search. Users can also search through the LIFE Collection directly by visiting





Tax Increment Financing District (TIF)
Business Development District (BDD)

The City Council of Peoria adopted the Hospitality Improvement Zone (HIZ) Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) on October 28, 2008. The City Council adopted the Business Development District (BDD) on November 11, 2008. Both of these districts will last for 23 years. The map above shows the BDD. The TIF is slightly larger, omitting the Civic Center property south of Monroe.

The City of Peoria is making a concerted effort to assist downtown hotels and other businesses to improve. The City has a great downtown and Civic Center, but more and improved hotel rooms are needed to support larger conferences and conventions.
The City has created a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District and a Business Development District (BDD). The TIF will capture new property taxes generated by improvements to the hotels, and put some of the increased property taxes back to the hotels to help pay for the improvements. The BDD permits an up to 1% Sales and an up to 1% Hotel tax to be established. The City would refund these tax revenues back to the hotels to help fund their improvements.

The City encourages all hotels to plan for improved facilities. A great first impression of the City is vital in securing new investment. Our downtown is beautiful, overlooking the Illinois River and wooded bluffs. Improved hotels, restaurants, and retail will help improve our image, and increase the number of people visiting our community.

More info at:

Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway

Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway
is Driving Forward

We have new road signs marking the scenic route along the Byway
and a brand new website to help you navigate the route!

Join us to celebrate the milestones that are putting this Byway on the map!
See the new signs and hear why this is important to our region.

Monday, November 24th 10am

Route 116 at Mariner’s Way, East Peoria, IL
Renee Charles
Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations
The Heartland Partnership
SW Water Street
Peoria, IL 61602

The Heartland Partnership is thrilled to share this news with you!

NBC Nightly News was in town last week to do a story on this region being a pocket of prosperity. The crew talked with Jim McConoughey about how and why this region is doing better than the rest of the country during this tough economic period. They talked about how our community businesses are diversified and many are now global in scope.

The crew also talked with Excel Foundry and Foremost Industrial Technologies about their current growth and success. This story is designed to show the rest of the country that our region is doing well and we are the spotlight of prosperity.

It sounds like the story will air Thursday night during the nightly news program at 5:30. The reporter who did the story says there is a 50% chance it may float due to heavier news of the day but we won’t know until Thursday. So, be sure to set the DVR’s or get home in time to see our story. We’ll update you if and when we receive more information.

This is great news for our region!!!

Renee Charles
Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations
The Heartland Partnership
100 SW Water Street
Peoria, IL 61602
c: 309-229-7791
f: 309-676-7534


The State of Illinois has launched “Workforce Outreach Days” to help people in North Central Illinois prepare for the job market, find new employment, and get their family through the economic slowdown.


Nice fall foliage photos, some of Peoria

Forty Leaders Under Forty

Our congratulations to the forty leaders under forty, chosen by Peoria Magazines.

Read all about it at:

Skybridges and Tunnels

The article below is a good synopsis of the arguments against not constructing sky bridges and tunnels in downtowns. New urbanists dislike bridges and tunnels interconnecting buildings, believing that it cuts down on street pedestrian traffic, harming retail and working against a vibrant downtown.


I agree with that assessment, but I also believe there are several logical exceptions where sky bridges and tunnels makes sense. And Peoria has those exceptions.

There are skybridges interconnecting buildings and parking decks of our three largest downtown Companies - Caterpillar, Methodist Hospital, and OSF Hospital. These skybridges interconnect buildings and parking under one ownership and control, in effect making the buildings larger. In each case forcing people to travel to the ground floor, leave the building, cross the street, and reenter the adjacent building and return to a higher floor would be inconvenient and inefficient. There would be no retail for the pedestrian to pass by, and a slight increase in the potential for auto / pedestrian conflict.

An existing or new hotel interconnected to the Civic Center would be another exception to this rule. Meeting planners much prefer a Conference or Convention Center to be physically connected to the conference center hotel. An interconnected hotel makes moving from the hotel to the Convention Center much more comfortable - no heavy coats, boots, or rain gear required. Most of our competitor hotels and conference / convention centers now have interconnected facilities.

Convention planners and companies have found out that when a move outside the building is required to travel to and from the hotel and conference center, meeting attendees often do not return, instead staying their hotel room. This reduces the value of the conference to exhibitors. Some conferences and conventions do not choose a city where a connected hotel is not available.


Methodist Hospital Progress on New Facilities

Methodist Hospital is making substantial progress on their new facilities. Read all about it at:

"As president, I have seen the transformative power of trade up close. I have visited the Caterpillar factory in East Peoria, Illinois, where thousands of good-paying American jobs are supported by exports." President Bush. Full story below:



NEXTsteps at the Innovation Center

Take networking to the next level.

NEXTsteps was designed to provide a forum for informal networking and information sharing between innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, and others interested in nurturing entrepreneurship in the Midwest. Typically, NEXTsteps features the presentation of three or more technology companies or technology concepts ready to be taken to the next level.

Connections to capital, partners and advisors, seasoned commercialization executives, and input from a diverse range of industry professionals … NEXTsteps might just be the connection to your next dynamic venture.

Date: November 18, 2008Time: 9:00 - 11:00 am (refreshments provided)Location:

Peoria NEXT Innovation Center 801 W MainPeoria, Illinois



Staffitnow is the “eHarmony” of the job Market with a mission of matching the right candidates to right opportunities, wherever they are. Our SaaS-based web application “matches” employers and job candidates, reaching across multiple career sites and using proprietary algorithms and AI to increase recruiter accuracy and decrease time-to-hire. Staffitnow’s initial focus is on the technology domain in the US with plans to expand horizontally (healthcare, accounting) & geographically (India, Canada, UK )

Intellihot Inc

Current tank water heaters in US homes run continuously and provide a limited amount of hot water. They are bulky, utilize less than 60% of gas energy burned and last only 7 years.

Intellihot has developed a state-of-the art demand water heater that uses conventional materials and advanced electronics. This green water heater extracts nearly 98% of energy, provides unlimited hot water, and will comfortably fit within a kitchen cabinet.

Coupled with Intellihot’s extremely low installation cost and 20-year life, this product will revolutionize the water heating market and establish Intellihot as the market leader.

Additional details and directions to the event can be found at:


You won’t want to miss this special opportunity!



RFP Issued For Former Caterpillar, Inc. Site in Mapleton, Ill.

The Heart of Illinois Regional Port District (branded as TransPORT and based at Peoria, Ill.) is issuing a Request for Proposals, seeking a private sector development partner for the adaptive re-use and development of an approximately 70-acre parcel in Mapleton, Ill., site of the original Caterpillar, Inc. Mapleton foundry.

Caterpillar is currently completing demolition of most of its foundry buildings on the site, leaving only floors and foundations of demolished buildings. Caterpillar will transfer title to the property to the Port District following demolition.

The Port District now seeks to designate a well- qualified, experienced developer to work with the District in maximizing the redevelopment potential of this unique parcel. The Port District’s vision for the property is to return it to productive use, with a view toward attracting incremental investment and job creation in the manufacturing, distribution and logistics sector.

Toward that end, Caterpillar will grant to the Port District easements over its property to permit the District to access the adjacent Illinois Waterway for purposes of designing and constructing a shallow-draft barge terminal facility. The Port District’s intention is that a common-user marine terminal will complement the types of industries and activities attracted to the Mapleton site.

The parcel is served by regional rail carrier, Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway, a unit of Rail America, which has neutral switching capability with the four Class I railroads serving the Peoria area. Mapleton is approximately six miles via the US 24 truck route from Interstate 474, which connects into Interstates 74, 55 and 155 serving a vast Heartland consumer and industrial market.

The Port District desires to work with developers in finding creative ways to finance the development. The District has authority to issue taxable and tax-exempt revenue bonds for capital projects associated with this parcel. Further, legislation is currently pending in the Illinois State Legislature to grant Peoria County the authority to create a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district for this and surrounding properties.

To obtain a copy of the complete RFP, interested development firms are invited to contact Steve Jaeger, Executive Director, Heart of Illinois Regional Port District, 100 SW Water Street, Peoria, Ill. 61602. Telephone is 309-495-5918 (landline) and 309-258-0412 (wireless). Email address is sjaeger@h-p.org and fax is 309-258-5913.

Historic Landmarks

Interesting historic landmarks in Peoria on the page below:


Happy 233rd Marine Corps Birthday

The second annual Trot For Tots fun run will be conducted on the day after Thanksgiving. Please join us for this fun event, conducted just before the Santa Clause Parade. Muster at the Riverplex by 9:30 am. Teams are encouraged to run.

More info at:


The City of Peoria is making a major effort to "Green" our city. The articles below are examples of the efforts of other cities.

The Intenational City Managers Association (ICMA) is supporting "Green" efforts.

More info at:


The Library of Congress has drawings of a number of historic Peoria buildings. The homes above are on High Street.

and search for Peoria buildings

Historic aerial view map of Peoria.
More maps like this at:


Heart of Peoria Street Car Map below: