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Results from The Big Table Are In. What's Next?

Patti Abel and Rita Ali, co-chair of the Regional Workforce Development Alliance
Tim Shelley / WCBU
Patti Abel and Rita Ali, co-chair of the Regional Workforce Development Alliance

The Big Table brought nearly 1,000 people together to identify regional successes and challenges. Now, community leaders are coming together to plot actionable next steps based off that feedback. 

Rita Ali is an at-large Peoria council member and vice president of workforce, diversity and career development at Illinois Central College. She said the new Workforce Development Alliance aims to increase the number of people in the regional workforce holding a post-high school credential from 40 to 60 percent over the next five years.

"Outside of winning big in the lottery, obtaining a post-secondary credential remains the best path out of poverty and into a job paying a family-sustaining wage," Ali said. 

Other identified challenges include diversity and inclusion, supporting innovation and entrepreneurship, and improving quality of life and place.

Daurice Boneta said the Big Table feels different from previous conversations that haven't led to actual change.

"It's a huge contributor in changing the trajectory of conversation that we've had about the city. Because in the past, we've had conversations where not all of the city was present around the table," she said. 

Boneta participated in the initial Big Table conversation last fall. That ultimately led to her getting a job with the Peoria Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau, where she feels she can make a bigger impact.

In addition to the October 2019 Big Table unveil at the Peoria Civic Center, five rural Big Table forums were held in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Logan, and Mason Counties to gather additional input. 

You can read the full report here.

Copyright 2021 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.