Friday, July 11, 2008

Move your Art Studio and Home to Peoria

“Just outside Chicago, there’s a place called Illinois.” The State of Illinois developed this catchy slogan for it’s tourism marketing program to encourage Chicago-area residents to visit the Illinois south and west of Chicago, instead of visiting Wisconsin and Michigan. The strategy aimed to keep tourism and the dollars it generates in Illinois. And of course the City of Peoria works hard to make sure that Peoria gets it share of tourism

The strategy need not stop at tourism, though. There are many good reasons why an artist might choose to locate her studio / home in Peoria.

Outside of the Chicago metropolitan area, the cost of home ownership and renting is much more affordable. The cost of doing business is also much less. Congestion, often cited as a quality-of-life issue, is virtually non-existent: “rush hour” in smaller communities is often the “rush minute”. Demographic trends indicate that the problem is only going to get worse in Northeast Illinois. Of Illinois’ population of 12 million people, 8 million citizens live in or around Chicago. By 2030, Illinois is projected to grow over 15%, but of the 2 million more people living here, most will be living in or near metro Chicago.

While growth is encouraging, it also comes with associated costs. Both Chicago and Illinois would be better off if some of the projected growth occurred in other Illinois communities. The addition of two million more people to the Chicago area will create more traffic congestion and air pollution. This will require increased capital expenditure at the federal, state and local levels as the transportation, protective and educational infrastructures swell to accommodate this growth. The increase in taxes need to manage this growth is rarely appreciated by citizens.Illinois communities outside of Chicagoland could accommodate and welcome this growth.

Many communities are at best experiencing moderate growth, while many more are losing population. These smaller communities often have housing stock, roads, schools, and other infrastructure that have capacity sufficient to the task.This potential is illustrated by comparing two large metropolitan areas in Illinois. The moderately-growing Peoria metropolitan area is the second largest metro area in Illinois. However, as the following table demonstrates, there are significant advantages to locating or relocating “downstate”:

Chicago / PeoriaMedian Home Price[1]$ 274,700 / $ 114,900

Average Commute Time (2000)[2]35 minutes / 20 minutes

“Cost of Doing Business” Rank[3]90th / 47th

Cost of Living Index Composite[4]103.9 / 96.9

Student-Teacher Ratio[5]16.40 / 14.40

Relocating Businesses and Employees to Peoria

More and more people are controlling their own job location. Artists are certainly part of this movement. The Internet permits more people to work remotely. Telecommuting allows mobile professionals to flee large, congested metro areas and work and live in a pleasant environment. Free lance writers, advertising executives, entrepreneurs, artists, computer experts and even salespeople are typical of employees who often have control of their work location.

Jack Manahan is a perfect example. Manahan left the Chicago suburbs for Peoria. As a home-based computer consultant to government, he simply drives 10 minutes to the airport when he needs to visit a client. "I saved half the cost of my auto insurance and got a much nicer home in Peoria when I left Chicago. And the rush hour is much less than in Chicago. Peoria is a pleasant place to live and work, without the hassle of a really big city. "Long gone is the requirement for manufacturers, agencies, sales forces and consulting companies to be located in a large metropolitan area. In fact, the cost of doing so might well outweigh the benefits. The same connectivity that permits telecommuting allows business leaders the flexibility to move their entire company to smaller, more attractive communities where both the quality of life and the cost of doing business are better. The marketplace is no longer local – it is global and requires little more than a strong technology and transportation infrastructure. This trend is accelerating and will likely continue to be popular, especially as congestion increases.

Our Riverfront neighborhoods provide great locations for artists live/work space. The homes are affordable, and several developers are working on developing artist space. The Warehouse District provides great opportunities for lofts. Renaissance Park is a great neighborhood suitable for artists.

The neighborhoods close to downtown are also close to our beautiful river and lake, and our downtown is filled with great sculpture. And the entire area is in the HUB zone, The HUB Zone provides that the Federal Government and many companies such as Caterpillar and John Deere will give preference to Hub Zone based companies, including artists.

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