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BN EDC Offers Support For Peoria Area

Nelson Pavlovsky

As central Illinois leaders try to assess the magnitude of Caterpillar, Incorporated's announcement they are moving top corporate leadership to the Chicago area, there are no sure answers.

Kyle Ham heads the Bloomington Normal Economic Development Council.Ham said there will be challenges created by the move later this year of 100 executives and the eventual move of about 300 top-level workers. Upper end homes will come on the market. There could be sales tax issues from the exodus of that type of buying power from the community, he said.  

Ham said he stands ready to do anything necessary to assist Peoria.

"I've always said Peoria is not our competition. Our Competition is in Texas and Florida. Being on the I-74 corridor we are all in this together," said Ham

Ham said the Twin Cities EDC wants Peoria to know they are here for them.

"My counterpart in Peoria, we speak often. We look at ways to market the region. We look at ways to partner in trade shows. I'm aware of opportunities in Peoria so that if I am on a sales call and we can't fit someone into our community, I'd rather they have a home in Peoria than Texas," said Ham.

Large Corporations often have different personalities. Some view junior executives as people who should devote their every waking moment to the company. Others see value in sharing those talents with the community and suggest they serve on boards and commissions and develop their talents that will come back later to help the company. Ham said Caterpillar has historically been one of the community nurturers and that will have an effect as well.

"Caterpillar has always been extremely charitable not only with their financial resources, but with their time. So from the top down Caterpillar has always had a long history of being a part of the community. If you are sitting on the board of an organization with a top Caterpillar Executive, they bring business acumen, they bring their Rolodex, they bring ideas; it adds a level of commitment to a particular organization," said Ham.

Some of that could go away and hurt non profit organizational structures and fundraising.

"All of those executives have spouses. Those spouses have jobs or they are active in the community. And there is a ripple effect," said Ham

Ham said 300 doesn't sound like a large number, but when you are talking about the top tier of a corporation, it is a much different magnitude.


WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.