PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — “Yes, the future is here. It’s not by luck that we’re seeing extensive development happening and much of it in the innovation space,” said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

Virtual reality, energy from graphite, and using plants rather than plastic are three different themes for three different companies Mayor Ardis says will lead Peoria into a bright future.

Enduvo, a content authoring, and delivery platform removes the complexity and high cost associated with creating virtual reality and augmented reality training.

Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Matthew Bramlet, created Enduvo.

His developments utilize virtual reality in workforce training.

Enduvo reaches beyond the medical field, helping engineers and the United States military.

“They can actually put their own experts into VR and create their own training modules that can convey complex flight patterns, terrain, engines or medic training, medical device training,” Dr. Bramlet said.

Learn more about Enduvo here.

Natural Fiber Welding on Galena Road is working to use plants rather than plastics to create sustainable materials like later alternatives.

“We have the potential, when this thing takes off, to replace a lot of the old textile jobs that were huge in this country that all left mostly to Mexico and China,” said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

Lastly, a nano-tech company called NTS has made groundbreaking devices like wireless sensors and GPS trackers.

NTS’ CEO Don Meyer says he wants to build his company’s headquarters in Peoria.

“We want to keep it at home. If we can do that, build a community like all these folks who are sitting up here are doing, that’s the key,” Meyer said.

The buzz of new business is centered by the new 9-block Innovation District downtown Peoria offering a place for startups and entrepreneurs to come and thrive.

Mayor Ardis announced Tuesday, the Peoria Innovation Alliance has helped Peoria secure the first North American competition for the Future Agro Challenge Startup Competition.

Hundreds of people will be in town mid-April to pitch their ideas for sustainability, agriculture production, and more.

The winner will advance to a competition in Greece with the chance to win $100,000 for their project.

Ardis emphasized that innovation isn’t new to Peoria. He highlighted the work Caterpillar has been doing in the area for nearly a century.

For 50 years, the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria has done clinical research and collaborated with community partners all while educating future healthcare providers.

Ardis praised UnityPoint and OSF Healthcare for the investments those systems have made in the Peoria Area, employing about 16% of the workforce.

A high-profile developer was honored during Tuesday’s address.

Kim Blickenstaff is this year’s recipient of the Mayor’s Outstanding Community Service Award.

He’s the financial force behind projects including revitalizing the Peoria Armory and transforming the Scottish Rite Cathedral into a concert hall.

Blickenstaff is also creating an outdoor resort in his hometown of Spring Bay and bring back the Al-Fresco Park.

He hopes bringing more visitors to the area will help them see what all Peoria has to offer.

“That’s part of what we’re trying to do with the Scottish Rite, or the Scotty as you guys call it. You have the Ronald McDonald House down there as well. You got to invest to move forward, otherwise, things are always going to stay the same,” Blickenstaff said.

Blickenstaff was behind the Betty Jayne Community Performing Arts Center which opened last August in Peoria Heights. He also broke ground on a boutique hotel in the Heights last May.