Downstate Illinois Economic Workshop Will Address Jobs, Regional Development

Local government officials, economic experts, and development organizations will gather near Peoria on Thursday, Sept. 16 to discuss strategies for invigorating the state’s economy. The Downstate Illinois Economic Workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Wildlife Prairie State Park.

The workshop, which is co-sponsored by the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at the University of Illinois, is the third in a series that seeks to examine the condition of regional economies and identify opportunities to bring new business to Illinois.

“Peoria county and the Peoria region prides itself on active inter-government collaboration. This workshop is yet another example of how we are proactively working to resolve fiscal and economic issues in the region,” said Scott Sorrel, Assistant to the County Administrator and Interim CFO for the County of Peoria.

The workshop will build upon discussions begun in Urbana last January and continued in Normal in May. Like these previous workshops, city, county and regional leaders will identify key factors for revitalizing economic development in downstate Illinois.

Mary Bontrager, executive vice president at the Greater Des Moines Partnership will speak about regional collaboration. Her group is a coalition that works to maximize local resources to address opportunities for economic and community growth.

Dr. Geoffrey Hewings, an economist at IGPA, will present data on the economic recovery to date. Hewings directs the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory, an IGPA research center that focuses on the development and use of analytical economic models. There will also be a panel discussion with local government finance officers and a roundtable on regional budget forecasting, workforce preparation, and future steps.

“The workshop is an opportunity for the University of Illinois to engage downstate communities in a meaningful discussion about developing an environment of economic cooperation and prosperity,” said Rick Winkel, director of the IGPA Office of Public Leadership and an organizer of the workshop.

Winkel said the workshop’s goal is to connect the valued resources for data and analysis to those making policy decisions.

“The economic workshops have been extremely valuable to local officials,” said Steve Carter, Champaign’s city manager. “Shared strategies for dealing with budget constraints have helped address immediate budget issues, and discussions of what economic development strategies can help move us forward allow us to think longer term.”

About the Institute of Government and Public Affairs: The Institute of Government and Public Affairs seeks to improve public policy and government performance by producing and distributing cutting-edge research and analysis of public policy issues and providing public engagement that enlightens and educates elected officials, students and the general public. It is distinct among premier policy research units because of its dedication to public service.