Look For the Helpers

The DDC was formed to be a “helper,” ready to meet the needs of our community.

by Michael J. Freilinger, Downtown Development Corporation
Peoria skyline
A thriving downtown benefits Peoria and our region’s economy as a whole.

What comes to mind when you hear the words Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? Perhaps it’s the catchy theme: “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor...” For me, as we muddle through this latest challenge called COVID-19, another one of Mr. Rogers’ sayings comes to mind: 

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” 

I don’t think many of us know what our world will look like going forward, but there are a few things we do know. As president of the Downtown Development Corporation (DDC), this is what I know:

Toward a Common Goal
The DDC was formed as a not-for-profit, stand-alone corporation designed to bring private and public interests together for a common goal: Creating a vibrant environment for people to live, work and play. A thriving downtown benefits Peoria and our region’s economy as a whole. 

Providing a Toolbox
Day to day, the DDC serves as a “toolbox” to facilitate development, deals, management and marketing. Those responsibilities include: 

  • Stimulating discussion and cooperation among public agencies and the private sector with respect to community planning, development and revitalization.
  • Serving as a transactional dealmaker to help facilitate desirable private/public projects. We are committed to helping recently announced projects in Downtown Peoria move forward and become profitable quickly.
  • Supporting policies that foster and encourage new
  • development. 
  • Leading efforts (with public entities, private developers and community development corporations) in the acquisition, lease, sale, design, construction, redevelopment, rehabilitation and financing of real estate projects or development. 
  • Leading efforts to plan, fund and develop improvements that make downtown more walkable, bikeable, attractive, livable and safe to work, live and play.

Focused and Ready
The DDC’s singular focus is on the five districts that make up Peoria’s downtown: the Central Business District, the Warehouse District, the Riverfront District, the Medical District and the East Bluff Growth Cell District. This focus enables us to zero in on issues specific to the downtown, thereby resolving issues quickly to enable development.

The DDC, like the other nonprofit organizations in this issue, was formed to be a “helper.” We stand ready to meet the needs of our community and look forward to lobbying agencies and government to facilitate a quick rebound of business and development in the downtown. We are anxious to celebrate ribbon cuttings for our newest businesses, and to watch them grow and thrive. With the dedication and expertise of our board of directors, I am confident that someday soon it will be “a beautiful day in the neighborhood” once again! Look for the helpers. PM

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