5 Peoria mayoral candidates focus on enterprise, innovation, entrepreneurship in digital discussion board

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PEORIA, Ill, (WMBD) – The five candidates vying for the top spot in the city took part in a virtual mayor’s forum on Thursday evening and discussed opportunities for economic growth.

The Return to Better forum was also hosted by the Peoria Innovation Alliance, the Peoria Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Peoria Young Professionals Organization, Right to Start and Distillery Labs.

The five candidates Rita Ali, Sid Ruckriegel, Jim Montelongo, Chama St. Louis and Andres Diaz all spoke about topics such as innovation, entrepreneurship and expanding economic opportunities in the city.

“Through innovation, through job creation and through our collective business acumen, we can not only define where we are as a community, but also inspire the rest of the nation to move there with us,” said Ruckriegel.

“We need to support mature businesses in Peoria with access to opportunity, resources and mentoring,” said St. Louis.

“I want to make the greatest effort ever made in Peoria to help our companies grow and expand because that’s the only way we can get out of the troubles we are in,” said Montelongo.

“The people who take the risk and make the investment need our support and encouragement, not our interference and bureaucracy,” said Diaz.

“I want to put Peoria on a path to become a smart city,” said Ali. “A smart city brings innovation to everything it does to promote, educate, transport growth and protect its citizens.”

One of the questions asked of the candidates was: Some examples of actions they noticed in other areas to maintain economic growth in other communities they want to bring to Peoria.

“I received many calls from our retail stores, restaurants and some of the big developers in the malls explaining the challenges they face with COVID and losing business, etc.,” said Montelongo. “I asked the city manager to investigate,” What can we do to help these companies now? “So the city council jointly approved a fee reduction of 50% in these areas. I think that went very well.”

“Columbus, Ohio is the city I pointed out earlier that has become a smart city, and it’s also stimulating business growth from the pandemic,” Ali said. “One thing they focus on is training for popular jobs. We can place more emphasis on the fact that middle and high school students are exposed to high demand and high wages at an early stage. “

“It really depends on the success of companies and makes them a level playing field for all companies, as some of the things that we have imposed are very expensive for many companies to get started,” said Ruckriegel.

“Other cities have monthly incentives for their residents, which I think is a really amazing concept,” said St. Louis. “I’m going to put all my money into the monthly stimulus plan because it’s a way to empower our residents without using taxpayers’ dollars.”

“Some of the ways the city goes [Frisco, Texas] Streamlining their business or helping companies have been to hire and engage the National Development Corporation as a third party payer for some of the CARES and CDBG funds received, ”said Diaz. “Having an outside party that maybe made this a lot more efficient for the city of Frisco would be a great thing.”

Other issues mentioned included ways to get companies moving into Peoria’s innovation space, empowering minorities to start new businesses, and the importance of teaching youth about entrepreneurship.

The entire forum can be viewed here.

The area code will take place on February 23rd and the early voting at the Peoria Electoral Commission has already started.