PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Thousands of dollars in state funding are coming to Greater Peoria to retain and develop talent.

In the Peoria area, economic leaders said a key challenge is increasing the population, as well as keeping talent.

“We hear it over and over again from the business community, we hear it over and over again as we look through our budget and our voting numbers,” said Joshua Gunn, CEO of Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce.

Last year, a ten-year talent attraction strategy was launched called Greater Peoria 2030. This effort was enhanced on Tuesday through a $500,000 dollar state grant. The funding was approved during the last state budget cycle.

“Up to now it’s been our own budgets, each of us contributing small slices of the budgets that we have to make this happen,” said Chris Setti, CEO of Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.

The grant will be used in areas including marketing, making events and programs affordable and accessible for newer residents, as well as talent incentives.

“If there’s an employer that’s got a physician that’s thinking about Peoria but maybe is on the fence, how do we give them a little bit of a carat to move them across the line,” Gunn said.

The success of the effort will be judged by population growth and the ability to fill open jobs.

“We want to be of service to the employer community as well and help them, that’s why we work very closely with all of our Chamber partners,” Setti said.

Gunn said the region has a lot to offer, and now it’s about showcasing it.

“More so now than ever, people have choices on where they can live and we have to help them choose Peoria,” Gunn said.

Local economic leaders are hoping to partner with private businesses and industries for additional funding opportunities.