EXPERIENCE: Our Projects

Focus Forward CI: Transforming Workforce Development

SeVEDS Advancing Southern VermontIn June 2012, regional leaders in Central Illinois asked VE to help them transform their approach to a regional CEDS. The goal was to follow national best practices developed by VE and cited by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) and the EDA “Know Your Region Program.” VE was also contracted to oversee an extensive reorganization of regional economic, workforce, and community development and planning systems, in collaboration with public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Creating a Strong Workforce

ViTAL Economy’s approach includes creating a strong workforce to grow and sustain regional economies. It helps create a region-wide, just-in-time, 360° talent pipeline solution system that focuses on the entire workforce spectrum. The talent pipeline solution requires the integration of employers, training and people. VE builds collaborations by:

  • Mapping talent development assets
  • Creating a regional workforce ecosystem
  • Creating a career readiness toolkit
  • Transforming the marketplace’s perceptions of work

Regional workforce development ecosystems are created to enhance regional competitiveness through purposeful collaboration between business and industry that is linked with knowledge, expertise and resources.

Foundation and Discovery Milestones Completed in 2013

Focus Forward Central Illinois (CI), the regional economic development organization for Central Illinois, celebrated its first milestone in the VE Journey, the Foundation Milestone, on July 30, 2013 in Peoria. The new comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) created public-private partnerships between regional businesses and five Central Illinois counties: Peoria, Mason, Logan, Woodford and Tazewell.  Three action teams were launched to develop S.M.A.R.T. Goals, Sense of Urgency and Quality of Place.

In October 2013, the second Discovery milestone of the VE Journey introduced regional leaders to the five-year goals and launched an effort to map the unique indigenous assets of central Illinois. VE also facilitated the creation of an EDC Action Team and Workforce Action Team.

S.M.A.R.T. Workforce Goals

VE helped the CI region establish measurable S.M.A.R.T. goals that include the following workforce-related goals:

  • Create over 13,000 new direct jobs and over 20,000 indirect and induced jobs, at wages at or above $48,832 by 2018.
  • Increase the total number of firms in the region by 2.3% – 3% (600+) by 2018.
  • Improvement of 19,456 jobs by $5,000 per year, primarily through workforce training or movement from part-time to full-time employment
  • Increase the number of mid-sized firms from 10.7% to 15% of total firms


Focus Forward CI also has focused on rebuilding and reorganizing the existing Economic Development Council for Central Illinois. That new EDC was established in late 2013.