Peoria sees huge spike in national ranking

DeWayne Bartels
Jim McConoughey, CEO of the Heartland Partnership, is excited about how Peoria ranks in a new national ranking of cities.

The Greater Peoria Area’s ever diversifying economy is bringing the city positive national attention.

“Inc.” magazine in its annual ranking of cities — as good places for companies to locate in — saw Peoria jump 46 spots in the mid-sized rankings from 67 in 2007 to 21 in 2008. That is the biggest jump for any city in the country.

And, in the overall ranking for all cities, regardless of size, Peoria jumped to 83 from 208 for all cities in the country from last year.

The index was created by a summary of recent growth trends: the current and prior year’s employment growth rates, with the current year emphasized; mid-term growth: the average annual 2002-2007 growth rate; 3) long-term trend: the sum of the 2002-2007 and 1996-2001 employment growth rates multiplied by the ratio of the 1996-2001 growth rate over the 2002-2007 growth rate, and current year growth.

Jim McConoughey, CEO of the Heartland Partnership, this morning, said this is very good news for the Peoria area.

“The Peoria area, for years, has been advancing the idea it is a good place to do business,” he said.

“This ranking says to companies you have a chance to be profitable and successful here.”

McConoughey said companies pay attention to these lists. These kind of rankings, he said, show company executives that public policies are in place to aid business.

“We’ve worked hard over the past seven to 10 years to diversify the local economy. We’ve started work on public legislation that is receptive to business,” McConoughey said.

“This is a demonstration that diversifying the economy is a solid public policy.”

McConoughey said the Peoria area has been vigilant in making sure the local economy stays diversified, having learned a hard lesson about having all your economic eggs in one basket in the ‘80s.

He said today the Peoria area has about 30,000 jobs in manufacturing, about 30,000 in health care, about 30,000 in service industries and about 15,000 in education.

That, he said, is a good mix.

McConoughey said the dramatic jump in Peoria’s rankings for mid-sized cities is no accident.

“This stuff takes years to develop. What happened is when the economy went south for the rest of the country we were in a bubble here because of our public policies,” McConoughey said.

“We are standing out now.”