Officials involved in the public-private effort celebrated progress toward opening the innovation hub, which was first announced last year, and they touted some of the work on which they hope it will focus.
(TNS) — Plans for the work at the Peoria, Ill., Innovation Hub are taking shape.
Officials involved in the public-private effort gathered Downtown to celebrate progress toward opening the site, which was first announced last year, and they touted some of the work on which they hope it will focus.
That includes research to develop and commercialize "innovative ag production systems, agricultural technologies, food, fiber and fuel products," Illinois Central College President Sheila Quirk-Bailey said.
The college, one of the partners in the innovation hub that'll be situated at the former ICC Thomas Building, has 90 acres of farmable land on its East Peoria campus and already works with the Department of Agriculture on some research right now.
The school, Quirk-Bailey said, will set aside 20 acres where researchers can have test plots.
"That way our students could learn those research techniques; they could learn from stem to stern what that would look like," she said. "And then before someone would make a major investment they could actually see if a given technique or new crop would actually pan out before they would put many acres in."
She said it's also a major part of the Peoria location to focus on workforce development and other wraparound services to help keep businesses here after launching them.
Another major area of attention will be on improving wellness for underserved populations — those who are poor, rural or elderly, in particular.
Finding solutions to better help those groups is critical, OSF HealthCare CEO Bob Sehring said, since difficulties there "often times, are the issues that get in the way" for people trying to look out for their own health.
The hub will also focus on transportation systems, including autonomous mobility. Chris Setti, the CEO of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, pointed out the region's history with such technology, both with Caterpillar Inc. and Komatsu, as well as Morton-based AutonomouStuff and work being done at Rivian in Normal.
The Peoria site is part of the statewide Illinois Innovation Network/Discovery Partners Institute effort to launch 15 locations throughout the Land of Lincoln, using $500 million of state funds and a corresponding amount of private donations.
As work continues on raising the $10 million in private funds, renovations will start on the roughly 53,000-square-foot space at 203 SW Adams St. Gov. JB Pritzker was among those speaking at the event. Citing his own experience starting the 1871 business incubator in Chicago, Pritzker pointed to the wealth of talent in Illinois and the need to foster conditions to retain such workers here.
Illinois produces the second-largest number of computer science graduates and the fourth-largest number of graduates with business degrees in the nation, he said, touting the importance of public-private partnerships and saying the role of government is "to create a platform and stable leadership so that people and businesses can thrive. ... I believe that the best results come when our public and our private sectors and our public and private institutions work together to serve as the platform for people's success."
Local organizations involved include OSF HealthCare, ICC, the University of Illinois system, and the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.
Other hub locations include each of the state-operated four-year universities, as well as in Rockford in concert with that city's University of Illinois College of Medicine campus.
©2019 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.