What's Wrong With Peoria?

Two things.

It's not the political or business leadership. This town has a lot of smart, dedicated people who are (mostly) working together to make the area better for all. In fact, I'd say things are running pretty smoothly. At least more than in past years.

It's not Dunlap or Morton, either. White flight to the burbs (and I'll say brown-flight, as well) is never a problem for urban areas. But it is a symptom of a problem. And while treating symptoms might feel good in the short term (think scratching poison ivy), in the long term it does nothing to improve the situation, and it usually worsens your overall condition.

Which leads me to problem number one:
  1. District 150 In the last week alone, I've learned of two more families that are leaving our older neighborhoods for the refuges that are (supposedly) Dunlap and Morton -- all because of fears about the state of District 150. Not only is the situation in our schools unfavorable...their very efforts to improve are perceived as horrible for the city because of the district inability to properly and effectively communicate what in the crap is going on inside their heads. They need to work harder and smarter to communicate with their neighbors, with councilpeople, with teachers, students and their families, with the unions, with the press...with everyone! Surely good things are happening, right? Who knows? Not us. Therefore, the families will keep fleeing, the schools will keep emptying, and the bloggers will keep typing.

  2. Crime, Crime, Crime. Maybe it's because I watched American Idol tonight, but I can clearly hear Randy saying, "Yo, dog! It's getting hot out there!" And he would be right...if he's talking about the streets of central and south Peoria. Scary even.
We have so many wonderful and amazing things going for us as a community. It's a freaking shame these are the issues on our hearts and minds, though. Or at least on mine.

I'm depressed now.

I'm going to bed.

By the way...where are you, Polly?


At 09:47, Blogger BJ Aberle said...

Good post. My wife and I live in Peoria and love our house and location. But I don't think many young people see the benefits of living here when you can build brand new homes in Morton or Dunlap. I don't see much hope for the revitalization because of the very points you make. White and Brown flight. When I was living in Nashville there was a resurgence of people renovating areas equivalent to our south side. People started to see that living closer to where they work had real and immediate benefits. Almost over night the value of those old homes skyrocketed. I wish the same would happen to this great city.

At 10:17, Blogger C. J. Summers said...

Yep, those are two of the three biggest issues. The other one is high taxes (property and sales). That's the biggest complaint I hear from people who have moved to this area to work for Cat -- in other words, people who can afford to live anywhere in the tri-county area. When they compare north Peoria to Germantown Hills or Morton, it's no contest when it comes to taxes.

At 10:19, Blogger Snarkelicious said...

Sure the taxes are how, but look at all we get for our money?

(insert sarcastic grin here)

At 10:19, Blogger Snarkelicious said...

Not "how". Read "high".

At 00:47, Blogger Mahkno said...

All the surrounding area's taxes are going up.... As they mature, get more crowded, they will develope the same problems Peoria has.

Taxation isnt the third issue.

3) Economic Development / Jobs

WTF are all these poor underclass folks supposed to do for a living? If Ren Park takes off, it will add diversity to the top of the economic ladder, which is good, but Ren Park provides little for the underclass. There needs to be a credible and attractive alternative future for the youth of Peoria who are not destined for college.

At 22:15, Blogger C. J. Summers said...

That's why we need more manufacturing and light industry jobs.

At 10:30, Blogger Snarkelicious said...


You make a great point. And I think a lot of great work is already being done to address the very issue you raise.

First, though, I'll mention that I don't see this problem ever going away. Labor is expensive here. It's just economics. A receptionist answering phones in San Jose makes $40 - $50K a year. She has to in order to survive in a community where the smallest homes are more than a million bucks. Imagine the price of renting? So the cost of doing business in that ridiculously expensive environment prohibits all but the most cash-rich and white color businesses from working there. Not a lot of light manufacturing to be found, as you can imagine.

Same thing here...if you're willing to compare Peoria to, say, Guadalajara Mexico. I, as a hypothetical manufacturer, would have to pay a Central Illinois worker fifteen or twenty times what I would pay a mexican worker for the same amount of work. Plus, they have no unions, no FICA, no healthcare demands, etc. All of that, and they're thrilled to have the work. So If I'm competing against companies who are already located overseas, moving my operations to a cheaper labor (and to CJs point, cheaper taxation) market is the only way I can put a product on the shelves and still make a dime in the process.

So long-term, I see that kind of manufacturing going out the door in America. EXCEPT for industry that directly supports major US industries -- like logistical support (warehouses, shipping, minor assembly) and certain kinds of fabrication.

That's why the efforts of the city of Peoria and the EDC in creating the Port District are such a cool thing. Check out this site for more info on that.

On another note, I think one of the hopes for Ren Park is that it will generate those support industries to back up every technology or bio product that is created and launched through the efforts of the Peoria NEXT incubator. Granted, we have to work really hard to hold on to those products in our area...but that's the idea, anyway.

Sorry for the rambling. Not enough coffee yet...


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