County Issues

Local Business Grows the Economy
William Prather, Peoria County Board
As with most local governments, Peoria County recognizes that growing our economy is crucial to the community’s future. The County Board continually focuses its energy and resources toward this initiative. Typically, communities experience the greatest economic success from within—by developing the workforce, creating high-paying, quality jobs and retaining and expanding current business. Thus, the County Board has taken a supportive, almost parental approach to economic development which has helped to spur growth in our business community.

Peoria County’s Government Assistance Program (GAP loan) has helped to finance local entrepreneurs’ dreams and fund the expansion of many existing businesses over the past two decades. Most notable of late are GAP loans for Sloan Biotechnologies Laboratory, LLC (CoBatCo Inc., guarantor) and Globe Energy, in the amount of $150,000 each—the maximum allowable through the program. The County has also pledged $3.3 million as co-guarantor for Firefly Energy’s expansion and additional manpower.

Sloan Biotechnologies Laboratory, a local product manufacturer, is expanding its line by manufacturing a new ingredient. This requires new equipment and creates new jobs, but it also comes at a price. Peoria County’s GAP loan eases current businesses’ financial burden incurred from expansion by offering a fixed rate of 3 percent below prime the day of approval. By creating 12 new jobs and retaining three current positions, Sloan was able to secure $150,000 through the GAP loan, and Peoria County was able to further secure our economic future.

Globe Energy, owned in part by Caterpillar, Inc., has purchased property in Pioneer Industrial Park with the intent of establishing its global business center and world manufacturing plant in Peoria County. Globe Energy is a revolutionary company with patented technology that reduces heating costs of large industrial facilities by 75 to 91 percent. Peoria County’s $150,000 GAP loan helps finance Phase I of this project, including the creation of 105 initial jobs with 500 more to be added over the next five years. That’s 600 jobs to enhance our citizens’ financial future!

The County also continues its support of Firefly Energy as the company moves toward production of the next generation leadacid battery, a move that requires greater space and more manpower. Due to Firefly’s employment opportunities and the County’s devotion to economic growth, we have pledged $3.3 million as coguarantor, including $1 million in Keystone revenue. This revenue comes from repayment of the $10 million loan which helped the steel company continue local operations after filing bankruptcy. The 2002 loan, a collaborative effort to save nearly 1,000 jobs at Keystone, demonstrates our commitment to internal economic growth and to you, the local workforce.

To succeed in growing the economy locally, we must first succeed in growing current business. Peoria County Government is proud to be at the forefront of economic growth as evidenced in our support of the aforementioned local businesses. We pledge more of the same as we continue to work diligently to create and retain quality jobs for the thousands of citizens we serve. IBI

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