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    Peoria, IL (August 16, 2013)—The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, in alignment with our strategic plan to be an advocate to improve the quality of place in the region by serving as a link between the business and education communities, in partnership with Peoria Public Schools District 150 and the City of Peoria hosted a special event featuring Rebecca Ryan yesterday at City Hall.

    Mary Ardapple, Interim President, Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, explained that education remains a key issue for the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce. “Education is vital to the success of area businesses. We want to be the change for District 150 going forward.”

    Best-selling author, economist and futurist Rebecca Ryan spoke to a room full of business leaders and educators about future trends and what this means for Peoria. Ryan stressed the need to identify the root cause issues and work together in developing workable solutions. “Solving the high school dropout problem doesn’t start with the tenth grade, it starts with the third grade.”

    As a futurist, Ryan explained that we as a society need to embrace technology and diversity. By developing partnerships and alliances, we will be able to improve the quality of education in Peoria. Quality of education has a direct impact on workforce preparedness and the overall regional economy. Ryan thanked Dr. Grenita Lathan, Superintendent of Peoria Public Schools District 150, for her hard work. “Dr. Lathan has done a great job introducing curriculum and programs that have already made a lasting impact on the community.” 

    Ryan went on to explain that collaboration is the only way to improve the quality of place in the region. We need a dynamic model that allows for educators and business leaders to work together. “For every 1% increase in the number of residents with a bachelor’s degree, there is an $865 increase in annual regional per capita income.”   

    Mayor Ardis said Peoria has a strong foundation in place for moving forward. “It is exciting to see the folks we entrust with our future so energized about what direction the future can take.”

    Dr. Lathan explained the strong link between education and quality of place. “A better Peoria Public Schools makes for a better City of Peoria.”