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New Peoria Chamber CEO focuses on attracting talent

New Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Jessica Linder Gallo speaks at a press conference at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
Collin Schopp
New Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Jessica Linder Gallo speaks at a news conference Friday at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

The new CEO of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce is setting her sights on attracting talent and improving Peoria’s quality of place.

Jessica Linder Gallo was hired internally by the chamber. The Morton native spent about a year and a half as the organization's vice president of operations.

Speaking at a news conference Friday, Gallo said most kids probably don’t dream of being a chamber executive when they grow up. But she had contact with entrepreneurship early on in life.

“It just made sense for me,” Gallo said. “My parents have run a business in Morton since before I was ever a thought. I’ve watched my grandma own multiple businesses. My grandpa was one of the founders of Morton Metalcraft.”

Gallo expects her childhood in Morton to be an asset in her new role.

“You know, kind of the politics of a region a little better when you’re from there, the nuances of an area,” she said. “And I think just being connected, too. There’s people that I’ve known from other parts of my life, other eras of time that I’m now getting to interact with in a different way at the chamber.”

Some of Gallo’s early priorities and initiatives include “market responsive” training for business owners on the most important topics of any given month, stemming population loss and growing talent attraction through quality of life improvements in Peoria.

“Really making sure that we’re retaining folks who have credentials and skills that can feed those businesses,” Gallo said. “That’s really the currency of business attraction in the modern day, is what does your workforce pipeline look like and who’s going to come to work from you when I locate to your community.”

Both of these concerns were identified as needs for business growth by a consultant at an Economic Development Council event earlier this year.

Gallo said the possible solutions to these issues are diverse and varied. Some examples come from a recent community leadership school run by the chamber.

“There were some really, really cool proposals, some around lighting, some around murals, installations in the city, events that may be able to bring people together,” she said. “So we're looking at all of those proposals and ideas to see what we could do to be able to strengthen that quality of place.”

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