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A closer look at Peoria’s Innovation District

Jake Hamann has a vision to transform downtown Peoria into a bustling business hub. He is leading the charge to revitalize 9 city blocks and wants to use an innovation district to do it.

“Innovation districts, are really, to start, kind of a place making initiative, to establish a defined area in where we’re try to concentrate some innovative activity,” said Hamann.

And he defines innovative activity as, “everything from trying to attract start up companies, start up workers, but also the other services and businesses that go along with that.”

One of the first companies moving into this new district? OSF Healthcare. Their new headquarters will be at SW Adams and Fulton in downtown Peoria. That new office is expected to bring 700-800 jobs downtown. OSF is also expected to open a remote health facility in a downtown building formerly occupied by Caterpillar.

So the question on everyone’s mind…will it work? Hamann says yes.

“It’s an actionable, executable plan, where we’re looking at what small scale experiments can we do quickly…we’re not going to put three years into a plan and then go execute on the plan. We’re going to say here’s a small thing we can do, let’s just go get it done, said Hamann.

And while it will be a long road, Hamann says progress has already been made.

“But if you just look at the small wins, like our announcement yesterday and some of the other things we have planned…it becomes a little more manageable and doable,” he added.

Hamann says his success will continue because the river city stands out on the state.

“What really makes us unique are the stories we have, the things you would say, I didn’t realize that was happening in Peoria…It makes it very attractive for the visitor’s that you’re bringing, the employees that you’re trying to recruit, the type of talent you’re trying to bring in,” he said.

For now, it’s a waiting game to see if these plans and policies will deliver the promised results.

Andy Weber

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