PEORIA, Ill. – Residents throughout the region are “taking a seat” at the first-ever Big Table: Greater Peoria event to share their voices and visions for the community.
We can take that feedback and build upon a new direction or new opportunities to take our respective organizations, and just as a general public, build pride in the area.JD Dalfonso President, CEO | Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
The day-long series of focused conversations is being held at the Peoria Civic Center. It is intended to generate a shared regional vision through a series of open, thoughtful conversations and an exchange of diverse ideas and perspectives. Participants will have the chance to share their thoughts and experiences and discuss the opportunities and challenges faced by their communities.
Daurice Boneta has lived on the South side of Peoria for 18 years. She says she’s seen a lot of violence, peace, trials and tribulations during that time; however, she’s ready for the area to step up and own all parts of the region.
“We need to embrace all aspects of this city if we’re going to thrive together,” said Boneta. “Everyone has a place at the table, right? So we all have a voice and I just think we all should be attempting to bloom where we are planted. When I said the power of life and death is with the tongue, usually conversations about Peoria can be negative or positive based on what you decide to share, based on your attitude. And attitudes always influence so I think we should just focus on being more positive.”
The event was organized by a collection of ten community and economic development organizations, and residents are encouraged to participate in discussions of workforce development, entrepreneurship and innovation, diversity and inclusion, and quality of life. Each of these conversations includes an introductory presentation by community leaders and professionals involved in those efforts followed by detailed discussions among the participants seated at numerous tables throughout the space.
“We are just so blessed with so many people throughout our region that have talents and skills and knowledge and coming to the big table to meet new faces is always exciting.” said CEO, Executive Director of Morton’s Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, Leigh Ann Brown. “We forget to ask who else to come to the table and I think that that’s my biggest takeaway is that this will move forward, throughout the entire region, through all the organizations, companies, of who else can we invite to the table?”
Central Illinois flourishes in many ways. Conversations concentrated on quality of life, innovation and entrepreneurship, diversity and inclusion plus many others.
“I know how much pride people take in their own pockets of Greater Peoria, but they also take pride in the whole region,” said President & CEO of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Griffin. “A real focus on our strengths and how we define ourselves for the future that’s what [Tuesday] is all about.”
Community leaders and members say it’s time to take what’s been learned and put it into action.
“The Big Table event is designed to foster collaboration and conversation,” said Griffin. “We are excited to bring a wide range of voices to the table to work toward a shared vision that can help guide our communities forward.”
A final report will be generated following the event and will be made available to the public for further action.