In Peoria

By November 27, 2008Economy, Trade

NBC Nightly News this evening carried a report on Peoria, Illinois, where manufacturers are adding jobs. The thesis of the story is that businesses are learning from past mistakes and doing things differently. Doug Parsons, CEO of Excel Foundry and Machine, comments to the point, “Never get too dependent on one customer, one industry, one product line – you constantly need to be reinventing yourself.” NBC reporter Janet Shamlian notes the company now ships a third of its products overseas.

The workforce issue is also touched upon as Jeff Bahnsen of Foremost Industrial Technologies, a machine shop, says they’re looking to hire people.

Yet the story is so sketchy as to be fundamentally misleading. Shamlian refers to Peoria as “what used to be a one-company town” and calls the area “an unlikely pocket of prosperity.” Peoria has added more jobs this year than any other region in the state, she says.

Caterpillar. Peoria is home to Caterpillar. With all due credit to all the fine companies and manufacturers featured in the story, how can you do a report about Peoria’s economy without naming Caterpillar, a company whose exports rose 20 percent in 2007?

NBC also referred to Excel’s export success. We suggest there might be a connection — strong manufacturing exports have encouraged economic growth making Peoria a very likely pocket of prosperity, indeed.

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