PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria Bio-Made is an initiative created by a group of entrepreneurs trying to turn Peoria into a biomedical manufacturing hub.
With companies like OSF Healthcare, UnityPoint Health, and Caterpillar, representatives said Peoria is the perfect place for a hub like this.
“The more you looked at it, the more you really realize the potential for building industry around that area of expertise and that cluster,” said Director of Business Attraction at Greater Peoria Economic Development Council Lenora Fisher.
Fisher said an opportunity like this was too good to miss.
“I think between our local assets, our support, our philanthropic kind of nature, in the way that we engage and support like our local initiatives, makes this, as Jake says, the next big innovation,” Fisher said.
Jake Becraft, the CEO of Strand Therapeutics in Massachusetts and founder of Peoria Bio-Made, said when he was younger, he felt there were not many scientific opportunities, both economically and educationally as a student in Peoria.
“What I found at the time was that while this research that’s going on in Boston is incredibly amazing, we can actually bring some of that economic development, things that we’ve seen with innovations like the COVID vaccines, we can sort of bring that economic development back to Peoria and create more economic diversity and educational opportunities in Peoria through that,” Becraft said.
Peoria Bio-Made is focused on a three-pronged approach.
First, it works with local, state, and federal leaders to drive and create economic opportunities through the bio-medical and manufacturing industry. Then it creates an educational pipeline and workforce for Peorians.
Lastly, it builds labs and learning materials for companies to understand what Peoria would offer them educationally and economically.
“This isn’t about bringing innovation to Peoria, this is about bringing a new economic sector and leveraging the innovation that Peoria already has and growing from there,” Becraft said.