Between his three children, his wife, and a move from Galesburg to Peoria, Cesar Suarez’ life is bustling with activity. Every other summer, Cesar and his family make their great escape in a road trip across America. His favorite place to visit is the Western United States; his kids prefer fun in the sun in Florida. Yet after every new journey, he always returns home to his greatest adventure in Greater Peoria as Senior Development Specialist for the City of Peoria. Here, he sees a future for our community and a plan to make that future our reality.
The United States has 50 states, 5 major territories, 3.8 Million square miles, 320 Million people, and 73,097 pizza stores (our country’s true mark of greatness). Among America’s 39,044 cities and local governments, what makes Greater Peoria stand out? Cesar Suarez thinks its Peoria’s riverfront, thriving culture, central location, and convenient size.
“Peoria has the amenities of a big city and the charm of a small town.”
In the next 10 years, Cesar sees a vibrant downtown with more apartment complexes and condos. He envisions a strong school/business partnership that engages its students with business programs and apprenticeships to develop talent for our community’s workforce. He sees creative people building startups that make Peoria a technology industry powerhouse.
“The goal is to build and make available an economic mobility ladder for our residents. A place where anyone can find or create an opportunity to apply their talent and reap their reward. Wouldn’t that be a worthy pursuit for us?”
His vision is one that many economic developers share for our region, but Cesar now holds the means to turn his vision into action. In August, the City of Peoria was awarded a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration for their “Startup in a Day” initiative. The initiative was a collaboration between the City of Peoria, Peoria County, Startup Peoria, and the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council that assists entrepreneurs in establishing their business within 24 hours by providing assistance to startups in obtaining permits and licenses and finding business development resources.
“We’re very excited about this initiative because it is forcing us to rethink how we can better serve the startup and growth of small businesses. It will be about removing barriers and creating express lanes for businesses involved with licensing, permitting, resourcing, and connecting. The grant funds along with the working groups we have established should lead to improvements that entrepreneurs and businesses are seeking.”
One thing that Cesar fails to mention is that he led the “Startup in a Day” initiative and wrote the grant himself. It is through his hard work that Peoria is rapidly becoming a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation. He claims not to be an economic developer by trade, but Cesar shows that anybody with a vision for the city and the courage to go after it can be an economic developer- and for that, I think he deserves a vacation.
To find out more about Peoria’s “Startup in a Day” initiative, contact Cesar Suarez firstname.lastname@example.org or call 309.494.8645.