Scoring The Greater Peoria Area

by Johnathon Francis
The Heartland Partnership

Without solid metrics, strategic development becomes a guessing game with a much lower probability for success.

The Greater Peoria Area has seen its share of campaigns focused on improving the internal perception of the region over the past few years. One such campaign, titled “It’s Better Here,” met with considerable skepticism as many began to ask questions like: “It’s better here compared to where?” “What makes this region better?” “Where is the proof?”

While this campaign was originally intended to focus attention internally, the questions it raised had the opposite effect, as Peorians began to look outward for answers. Though it wasn’t clear at the time, focusing the region’s attention externally was the first step in an incredibly important process, and maintaining that outward focus is essential for creating a solid foundation for long-term regional growth.

There are a number of regions throughout the Midwest that resemble the Greater Peoria Area in population size, industry breakdown and economic performance, and all of these regions are competing to attract a limited number of jobs, resources and talented people. As the level of competition continues to rise, it’s no longer enough to simply understand how internal performance varies from year to year. For Greater Peoria to remain a leader in the Midwest, it must establish a baseline set of measurements and metrics that will allow its citizens and leaders to understand how the region performs year to year, both against itself and against all of the regions it competes with.

Without solid metrics, strategic development becomes a guessing game with a much lower probability for success. In other words, it is difficult to effectively manage what can’t be measured. By establishing a series of measurements and metrics that can be updated on a year-to-year basis, the relative strengths and weaknesses of Greater Peoria will come to the forefront. Local leaders can then focus on maintaining regional successes while at the same time working to improve areas of weakness. With yearly updates to the data, the citizens of Greater Peoria will be able to quickly determine whether the efforts of local leadership have been effective in moving the needle forward through various initiatives, and local leaders will be able to demonstrate the impact of their efforts with the backing of solid data.

With an understanding of the benefits of such measurements and metrics,The Heartland Partnership, in collaboration with Bradley University, Central Illinois Business Publishers and a task force comprised of some of the top CEOs in the region, has created a Regional Economic Scorecard that will provide hard data about the performance of the Greater Peoria Area in relation to a series of peer and leading cities throughout the Midwest. The Scorecard measures nearly 20 individual indicators in five different categories: Economic Performance, People, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Business, and Livability.

This collaborative effort to create an easily repeatable model for measurement will provide citizens and regional leaders with an accurate picture of Greater Peoria’s strengths and weaknesses and answer many of the questions raised by internal campaigns like “It’s Better Here,” while also providing a starting point for strategic development. The ultimate goal is that new questions raised by the Scorecard will lead to concrete strategies for long-term development of the region.

The Scorecard will launch this March and will be distributed to IBI subscribers and others throughout the region. For more details, visit heartlandpartnership.org starting in March for more details. iBi

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