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Peoria, IL
MSA: Peoria, IL
Best places ranking: #5 among midsize metro areas
Population: 372,487
The last time we wrote about Peoria, investors had pledged nearly $2 billion toward renewable energy ventures, and city officials were launching government-funded programs to help foster green growth.

Since then, Peoria's small business sector has boomed -- even during the bad economy. More than 100 businesses have graduated from startup mode this year in industries like agriculture, medical device development, and the support-services sector, which includes HR and IT companies. Fueling the growth was a recent mass exodus from Caterpillar, the city's largest employer, which offered voluntary buyouts to dozens of middle managers in January.

Lured to the city by its affordable housing and comparatively cheap commercial real estate -- lab space goes for about $18 a square foot in Peoria vs. $45 in Chicago or St. Louis, both a three hours' drive from Peoria -- entrepreneurs can leverage a vast network of startup assistance. Half a dozen organizations, such as the Heartland Partnership and economic development centers at Bradley University, help small companies access capital. The city has seen an uptick in new angel investment groups. Glen Barton, former chairman of Caterpillar, recently launched a network of 25 high-net-worth individuals looking to invest in Peoria-based high-tech businesses. -Maggie Overfelt

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Peoria, IL


Local smallbiz lenders

  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Superior Financial Group
  • U.S. Bank
  • Innovative Bank
  • Citizens Financial Group
See all local lenders

Peoria Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
8,520 11,214
Small business growth rate
1.4% 5.0%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
23 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
31.9% 26.9%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
n/a 478.8
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
n/a 3,562.2
Population growth
2.1% 5.73%
Per-capita income
$38,189 $35,547
Per-capita income growth
32.2% 24.0%
GDP (in millions)
$15,633 $18,559
GDP growth
39% 32%
Average hourly wage
$18.67 $18.69
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
244 286
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$727 $848
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.2% 1.9%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.2% 1.8%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-1.7% 0.0%

All statistics are for the full Metropolitan Statistical Area. For a complete list of data sources, see "How we picked the Best Places."

From the November 2009 issue
"Besides offering a good quality of life, Peoria has a fairly close-knit community that's accepting of new folks and new ideas. In the past 10 years, the town has gone a long way to help attract people to this region. " -Sri Deivasigamani
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Peoria?
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The factors that matter most to me are:
 Affordable wages  Few foreclosures
 Educated workers  Low housing costs
 Low crime  High local incomes
 A growing economy  Population growth
 Growing small business population

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This year we partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America.

With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we developed a methodology and sifted through such data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. More

Comments? E-mail the editors
Data partners

This package was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Foreclosure data provided by RealtyTrac.

Housing price-to-income data provided by Moody's