Annual Meeting - Heartland Partnership

Join the Heartland Partnership for breakfast Thursday, September 18 at 7:30am in the Peoria Civic Center Ballroom and meet Ken Schmidt, former Director of Communications for Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Find out how this marketing guru helped create one of America’s most celebrated business success stories.

Just as Harley-Davidson Motor Company climbed its way to the top and achieved great success, The Illinois Heartland is doing the same. Hear how our region is following Harley Davidson’s comeback path and is “Excel>erating For the Future!”
Plus, community award winners will be announced by The Economic Development Council for Central Illinois, The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, and The Heartland Partnership.

Tickets are available now!

Chamber Member/EDC Investor tickets $40 or table of eight $320

For tickets visit www.peoriachamber.org/goto/AnnualMeeting08 to register or call Sarah at 309.495-5914


RFP Due Date Extended

A number of developers have asked that they be given more time to respond to the Request For Proposal for the sale of city owned lot at 225 State Street, across the street from O'brien Field.

Accordingly, we will move the due date for responses to Friday October 10, 2008.

Good to see all the interest in development in the Heart of Peoria.



Clean Energy - Wind Farm

Everyone is in favor of clean energy, saving the environment and reducing our dependency on foreign oil. The issues has lately been popularized by T. Boone Pickens. His plan is on the web site below:

Governments and business in Peoria could encourage the development of a wind farm near Peoria by creating a consortium who would band together to buy wind energy from a newly developed wind farm.

The Wind farm company could handle location, siting and development work. An ideal location would be on a major approach to the region, perhaps along I-74 . Another option would be a "Green Sustainable" technology and business park developed with the Wind Farm. This could also enhance our image as a "Green" Community.

Wind farms are of course controversial to nearby property owners. Siting is somewhat difficult. But the idea is worth researching. Grants for this type of work are available from:

Peoria Journal Star Article


Green Conference

"Green Conference" in Aurora October 2, 2008

Great opportunities for a first time home buyer

The City of Peoria, the State of Illinois, and the Federal Government have numerous programs to help people buy their first home. Depending on your income and the location of the home, you could be eligible for downpayment assistance of up to $10,000, a Federal tax credit of $7,500, a low interest loan, and funds to help you rehabilitate an older home. SUCH A DEAL !!!

Up to $7,500 Federal tax credit for qualified first-time homebuyers. Act soon.

If you're looking for a new home, there's reason to act now! Congress has just approveda tax credit to help first-time homebuyers (or those who have not owned a home within the past three years).

Click here to learn more. The credit is a federal tax credit subject to qualifications, conditions and restrictions and repayment of the tax credit is required. The credit is only available for a limited time. Details are set forth in PL 110-289 and general information is available at

City of Peoria programs to help home buyers are shown on the links below:
Housing Rehabilitation Form
For development and management of residential rehabilitation programs in community development areas, including loans and grants, contact Neighborhood Development, Twin Towers, Room 402, 494-8656.
Or contact your local banker.

The Peoria Civic Center is a great facility, with an arena, theater and convention space. Book your next conference or convention in Peoria.

The City of Peoria is a terrific location for smaller national conferences. Many organizations conduct one large national conference in a major city. Organizations could host a second smaller national conference in our city.
The size of a major conference requires a major city with expensive hotels and food. Many smaller organizations cannot afford to send their key employees to the National Conference. A second smaller annual conference would permit organizations to send junior staff. The program could be reduced from the national program. The conference could be held in summer, allowing young managers and assistants to bring their school age children.
Peoria is an excellent site for this type of conference. Peoria is centrally located in the US, permitting employees to drive to the conference. Peoria is part of the second largest metro area in Illinois with a population of 360,000. We have a vibrant downtown on a river with a range of hotel accommodations, unique restaurants and a major focus on new urbanism.
Peoria is able to offer all of the amenities of a large city without the shock of high prices. Peoria also has excellent affordable air service. The region includes a wide variety of recreational and educational facilities for children.
Hotel rooms and Convention Center costs are much more affordable in our small city. The average room rate is less than ½ of the cost of large city hotels. Within walking distance of the Peoria Civic Center there are over 800 guest rooms with a citywide capability of 1,200 to 2,000, depending on the date.
Call the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau if you would like to discuss a conference in Peoria.


Check out the progress of the new Pastoral Center Construction on their Webcam.
A beautiful building, and a great addition to downtown Peoria.



Quality companies hire young creative class employees from around the world. To attract these employees our salaries are competitive with other regions. Talented new employees are the lifeblood of any company, and it is vital that the best and brightest are recruited and retained.

Young people choose their work and home based on many factors beyond salary. They like the vibrancy of downtowns, with work close to housing, pubs, and entertainment. Recruitment and retention of top people would be greatly facilitated if we can create a more vibrant downtown with more retail and housing located in or near downtown and the River.

Working together, the City of Peoria and major downtown firms can improve and enhance our downtown as a place to live and work. This will help our great firms attract and retain the best and brightest employees.

Peoria is part of the second largest metropolitan area in Illinois, and boasts the second most intensely developed downtown. The downtown is a vibrant and successful commercial district, and boasts a very attractive riverfront, beautiful buildings, and a strong and growing employment base. Like many older cities, however, it is in need of new housing and retail in and near the downtown core. The City boasts numerous quality industrial buildings that could be redeveloped into quality housing and retail areas. Some vacant tracts could welcome new construction of single-family homes and townhouses.

The City has created great incentives to help develop new and rehab old buildings into successful mixed use development. Enterprise Zone, TIF, and historic tax credits are available.
The market is strong - downtown can support 194 dwelling units a year - market is new CAT, OSF and Methodist Hospital employees - 17,000 jobs within easy walking distance. Median price of a home in Peoria went up 10.2% in the first quarter of 08 from 1st quarter of 07, while the rest of the country went down 7.7%.

Combining office, housing, & retail

Warehouse District http://www.warehousedistrict.blogspot.com/

The Warehouse District is also a great location. Some of the great old buildings between the Ball field and the River have great potential. In addition to getting the Enterprise Zone and TIF incentives, the buildings are eligible for a 10 to 20% Historic Federal Tax Credit.

Another interesting location is the InPlay building, which will be available for purchase and rehabilitation. Historic tax credits would apply.

Gateway Building

The Gateway building could also a great mixed use development. The City is currently selling this building. It could be expanded upwards, or use a new building on either end of the current structure.

River Trail Drive http://rivertraildrive.blogspot.com/

The River Trail Drive development would also be a great location. This mixed use development could provide both great office space and housing for new employees. The city owns all the land, and is looking for a quality developer.

Armory Building

This great historic building is suitable for a mixed use development. The City could create a new TIF for this building, and provide a substantial incentive. City staff are also working with the PHA to redevelop the adjacent TAFT development.

Museum Block / Caterpillar Visitor Center

The Museum / Caterpillar Visitor Center could be greatly expanded to also house a mixed use development. The buildings are proposed to be low – they could be changed to much taller buildings above the Visitor Center and Museum. The additional TIF increment could pay for more parking and/or help the Museum.

Wisdom Approved Office Building

This location on the River would be a great location for a mixed use development.
Main Street between downtown and Bradley University is a terrific location for new urban development.
River Trail Drive
This proposed development along the Riverfront just north of downtown can become a great mixed use development.

The pages below provide additional information:

Contact Craig Hullinger for more information: 309 494 8639 Hullingerc@gmail.com

Some interesting developments in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.






Article on Peoria Development

Good article about development in Peoria below:

Peoria - Great American Adventure Town

The Peoria Journal Star reports that "National Geographic Adventure magazine has picked Peoria as one of its 50 next great American adventure towns in which to live and relax. The nationwide listing sought out towns and cities that currently offered activities for outdoor enthusiasts but were also considered to be up-and-coming."

"The magazine selected Peoria — the only Illinois city on the list — for its growing miles of mountain bike trails that surround the city as well as the nightlife offerings on the Downtown riverfront."

Pretty neat. Many people from the rest of Illinois do not realize the beauty of the Illinois River Valley with its steep wooded slopes cascading down to the wide River.

More information about mountain biking in Peoria can be found at:

City Attorney Randy Ray can attest to the adventure of biking in Peoria. He was struck by a deer, and injured. As a typical dedicated biker, his first concern was for his bike. The bike suffered about $100 in damage, while the damage to his body was many times greater.

The deer was not injured, and was unavailable for comment.


Planning to Improve Water Quality

The City of Peoria is developing a plan to improve the water quality of the Illinois River. A healthy River is very important to the continued improvement of the Peoria region. The City has formed a Clean River Committee to provide advice and recommendations to the Peoria Department of Public Works as it develops the long-term plan. Meetings are open to the public. For more information, click below:


Economic Development: Compete or Stagnate

Mayor Jim Ardis City of Peoria

As Peoria continues to grow, I’m often asked to explain the need for—and mechanics of—various development incentives. Some of the best-known incentives are Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and the Enterprise Zone (EZ). But there are others as well, such as Peoria Promise. The fact is that if Peoria doesn’t use all of the development tools at our disposal to attract new investment and spur redevelopment, we will not be competitive with our peer communities in Illinois and elsewhere. We will lose out on the ongoing quest for added community wealth to support an improved quality of life—a quality of life that comes with a price tag. And that price tag can’t always be borne by additions to real estate and sales taxes.

Let’s face it—if we aren’t competitive, we stagnate and decline as a vibrant, high-quality community. So, how do these incentives work? What value do they contribute to Peoria? The following summarizes our most useful programs.

Tax Increment Financing (TIF). The most important—and at times misunderstood—program for urban redevelopment is Tax Increment Financing, which can help redevelop older neighborhoods. In a TIF district, dollars for improvements are generated by businesses—new and old—attracted by the TIF benefits. Money for infrastructure improvements and other incentives comes from the growth in property tax revenues—the tax increment.

TIF can help cities rebuild and restore their most run-down areas. Governments can make the improvements they need, like new roads or sewers, and provide incentives to attract businesses or help existing businesses expand, without tapping into general funds or raising taxes.

Without the TIF benefits, a declining neighborhood will not improve. Businesses do not invest into decaying areas, and the city cannot afford the needed costly improvements without raising taxes. But in a TIF district, dollars for improvements are generated by businesses—new and old—attracted by the TIF benefits. Specifically, money for infrastructure improvements and other incentives comes from the growth in property tax revenues—the tax increment.

Taxing bodies are often confused about the impact of TIF, but they are not harmed by a properly developed TIF. All taxing bodies continue to get the same tax revenue from the original real estate. Newly increased taxes from new development in the TIF are used to help the project. Eventually, when the TIF is complete, all taxing bodies share in the new revenue.

The City of Peoria has developed nine TIF districts and is considering a tenth. The market value of the TIF areas was very low, with disinvestment. The TIF helped these areas redevelop, and their value has gone up, while nearby areas without the TIF have had little improvement in value. And, of course, the redeveloped areas created jobs and vitality.

Depending on the rate of taxation, taxes paid by the new development may equal more than half of the total investment by the developer. The city can provide some or all of that incentive back to the developer to help make the project a reality.

Enterprise Zones. The City of Peoria Enterprise Zone is a valuable tool for economic development. This zone covers older areas of the Heart of Peoria and selected industrial and commercial areas of the city. Provided the owner fills out the correct paperwork, there is no sales tax on building material, and developers can receive a five-year property tax abatement for certain types of development. The following are among the incentives that are available in an enterprise zone: investment tax credit, construction material sales tax deduction, machinery and equipment sales tax exemption, utility tax exemption, jobs tax credit, tax abatement income tax deduction for financial institutions on loans for development in enterprise zone, and corporate contribution deduction.

Business Development District. A Business Development District can be established for a particular site or series of parcels. The City then implements an additional sales or hotel/motel tax to a maximum of one percent. The proceeds from this new sales tax are applied to the costs of the development of the site. Eligible costs are similar to that of TIF. The City is considering a Business Development District to help our downtown hotels and restaurants improve and compete. Special Service Area or Special Assessment. A Special Service Area or Special Assessment can be used to finance public improvements or services. These programs have become popular in recent years to incent the development of housing. The community publicly finances public infrastructure at a tax-exempt rate and applies an assessment to the property to pay for the improvements.

Low-Interest Loan Programs. The City of Peoria, Peoria County, the EDC, the State of Illinois and the federal government provide a number of low-interest loan programs to help businesses start and expand. The programs include the City Business Development Fund and Peoria County G.A.P. Loan program, which provide low-interest loans for business expansion. They also include industrial revenue bonds and various programs managed by the state and federal government.

Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Zone. The HUB Zone is an SBA program for companies that operate in the southern parts of the city. The federal government gives contracting preference to HUB Zone-certified small businesses. Major companies such as CAT and John Deere have similar requirements. Businesses can become HUB Zone-certified if they are small businesses, owned entirely by citizens of the United States, maintain their principal office in the HUB Zone, and if 35 percent of the company’s staff resides in a HUB Zone.

Peoria Promise. Perhaps the most powerful long-term development asset is a solid and competitive school system…and motivated, educated youth. That’s a key reason Peoria Promise was created—using private investment in our kid’s continuing education—to enable them to compete for the best jobs and life opportunities. It is clearly demonstrated elsewhere, and certainly taking hold in Peoria as well, that this type of investment in continuing education is a strategic means of attracting new business and expansion of current business. While there are no public monies in the program, the ultimate beneficiary is a growing and economically energetic community. Everyone wins in this—the ultimate development incentive.

The City Council is committed to expanding our local economy to provide good jobs and an attractive quality of life for our citizens. These programs are valuable tools and enable Peoria to compete successfully with similar communities.

Published in Peoria Magazines at: