The Peoria Innovation Hub is gaining forward momentum.
Governor J.B. Pritzker will be in Peoria Monday to kick off the next steps for the hub. It’s an affiliate of the University of Illinois’ Discovery Partners Institute in Chicago and the Illinois Innovation Network.
Michelle Conger is the Chief Strategy Officer for OSF HealthCare, one of the partners in the project.
“What we’d like to do is immediately start looking for an executive director. Someone who can be the face and help bring this together," Conger said. "Start thinking about the actual physical facilities. Thinking about other partners in the community.”
Its main focus will be on manufacturing, agricultural, and medical innovation. Autonomous vehicle research is also a component.
The hub will be based in the old ICC Thomas Building in downtown Peoria, not far from the new OSF headquarters. It’s set to be the heart of the newly designated Peoria Innovation District.
Conger said it’s important to make this a community effort.
“We really want this to be a collaborative space for everyone in the community, in terms of local businesses, and educators and other individuals - startup companies. We want everyone to be a part of developing this," she said.
A two-hour workshop on Monday to discuss the hub’s future course has about 75 people signed up, so far.
The University of Illinois is raising $500 million in private donations to match state money included for DPI projects across the state in this year's budget.
Other research centers are set to open in cities across Illinois, including Springfield, Champaign, and DeKalb.
ICC, the U of I System, and the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council are also partners in the Peoria project.