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Greater Peoria Big Table returns to Civic Center

Leigh Ann Brown, Morton Chamber and Economic Development Council, introduces details of the Greater Peoria Big Table 2022 at the Peoria Civic Center.
Collin Schopp
Leigh Ann Brown, Morton Chamber and Economic Development Council, introduces details of the Greater Peoria Big Table 2022 at the Peoria Civic Center.

The Greater Peoria Big Table is back in the Peoria Civic Center for the first time since 2019.

Joshua Gunn, CEO of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, said the community development and discussion event will focus on five goals this year: economy and jobs, workforce development, quality of place, natural resources and diversity, equity and inclusion.

“One of the beautiful things about our virtual format, we did this virtually in 2020 when I first arrived, is we have more ZIP codes represented than we’d ever had before,” said Gunn at a press conference on Tuesday. “We want even more zip codes beyond sort of the typical insular communities that we have and really break down those silos.”

There were representatives at the press conference from economic organizations in Morton, East Peoria and Pekin.

The Big Table is putting special emphasis on bringing new faces into the 2022 event, with Gunn challenging anyone coming to bring another person who hasn’t attended before. The goal is to get new voices involved in the facilitated conversations that make up the day.

One of those new attendees will be Karli Johnson, a content educator and consultant who recently moved to the Peoria area.

“I want to be a part of Big Table because I really truly believe they're actually listening to their community members,” said Johnson. “This event isn't just for CEOs, and those in these big roles within businesses or organizations within the community, anyone is invited and welcome.”

Welcoming is a large part of the Big Table’s mission this year, as demonstrated by this video shown at the press conference that highlights efforts to bring more diversity to the group and Peoria as a whole.

There will also be another first: a keynote speaker from the Greater Topeka partnership.

“A big effort that we're embarking on, another big collaborative effort with all the partners in this room, is around talent attraction,” said Gunn. “We know that in order to grow our economy, we're going to need talent here to work in the businesses that exist, but also to attract additional businesses and Topeka is sort of the gold standard.”

The 2023 Greater Peoria Big Table event is Oct. 20, 2022. You can find information on how to register here.

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Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.