Goal 2: Expand Economic Performance

Implement community economic development strategies and action plans that will increase total regional wages, raise the regional average wage, and generate new state and local tax revenue.


Create new, high-quality jobs.

  • Map and strengthen up to five industry clusters to include Healthcare, Manufacturing, Transportation, Distribution and Logistics (TDL), Agri-Business, and Professional and Technical Services.
  • Identify how to best leverage the manufacturing and healthcare sector expansions in the region.
  • Plan and implement strategies to leverage the region’s unique water assets as a community economic development driver.
  • Encourage municipalities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government and regulatory services focused on community economic development activities. This strategy will be based on best practices for single point of entry and one-stop 24/7 government services and lead to an improvement of business and citizen perception of the effectiveness, efficiency and customer service orientation of government services.


Increase the number of mid-size firms.

  • Conduct targeted business retention visits with one hundred (100) firms per year interested in expansion.
  • Focus of the visits will be to identify internal and/or external barriers to growth and take actions to address these barriers.
  • Map business life cycle financing and determine regional needs, availability and gaps in expertise, and types of financing and funding levels for Seed, Start-Up, Emerging or Growth, Established, Expansion and Mature Stages of the Business Cycle to enable business expansion opportunities.
  • Identify value chain leakage opportunities within targeted industry sectors to attract or grow mid-size firms.
  • Identify intellectual property assets within the public or private sector that can be leveraged by existing small businesses to enable them to grow into mid-size firms.


Increase the pace of innovation, entrepreneurship, and annual business starts.

  • Build an identification system to track and communicate with new business starts within 90 days of formation in the region.
  • Map all existing regional innovation and entrepreneur development assets and identify gaps that need to be addressed. Fund and implement recommendations.
  • Collaborate with Bradley University, Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center and the USDA Ag Lab to prioritize entrepreneur and innovation development opportunities focused in the areas of Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing, Human Healthcare, Bio-Refining, Energy Technologies, Agra-Medicine, and Ag-Tech.
  • Grow and strengthen entrepreneur and innovation marketing and education programs to improve the culture of support in the region for innovation, risk-taking and entrepreneurs.
  • Work with regional partners to develop and implement minority business development strategies that increase the number and capacity of those firms in our region.
  • Implement the Region’s broadband strategy to ensure equitable access in urban and rural areas.