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Ideas, data, and Information gathering toward a more thriving downtown

The city of Peoria is seeking solutions that can help us better understand the needs, gaps, and opportunities in our transition to a more lively downtown.

Goals & Objectives


To be successful, a solution might:

  • Support a survey or community-engagement process of business-owner and resident sentiments around the downtown and potential visions for it.

  • Provide mapping, data, and/or vision on the potential of upgrading existing commercial rental stock downtown. This can include information on zoning, proximity to transportation or other features, etc.

  • Provide mapping, data, and/or vision on the potential existing stock of available rentals for business owners, including size, location, and other features.

  • Identify gaps, blockages, or needs where solutions could facilitate a more active, thriving downtown.

  • Identify vacant or underutilized properties for potential city or private-developer purchase and development

  • Develop a financial model for a creation of a business park to support expansion

  • Provide insight on how best to Increase the perception and reality of safety downtown

  • Contribute to a growth plan that facilitates development for new construction

  • Provide information on how to create linkages between the existing civic center/entertainment area with the rest of downtown

Release of Challenge: March 20, 2023

Responses Due: April 28, 2023

Questions Due: April 11, 2023

Determination of Selected Startups: May 2023

Expected Work to Begin: June 2023

NOTE: The government reserves the right to modify the dates listed at its sole discretion.

City of Peoria, IL

This three-time All-American City has the heart that is so well known in the Midwest. Just like in the old vaudevillian days, quality of life must be good to “Play in Peoria”. The oldest community in Illinois with a population of 112,936, Peoria is equal distance from Chicago and St. Louis. Naturally, we are proud to be the site of the founding U.S. headquarters for Caterpillar, Inc., but we have many global businesses that allow Peoria to play all over the world through their products and services. Peoria has begun to diversify its economy with infotech industries as well. Thus our business community attracts some of the brightest graduates throughout the nation. Here we have an enviable standard of living, exciting venues within a 15-20 minute drive from our homes, safe streets, quality and quantity shopping, our own symphony, our own ballet company, museums, art guilds, first-class medical facilities, the nation's oldest community theater and oldest Santa Claus parade.

Challenge Background

The city of Peoria has a long legacy of innovation and support of entrepreneurial spirit that welcomes businesses’ growth and expansion. However, with the success of being a community where businesses want to locate, we lack adequate inventory matched to the square footage and other requirements for modern business relocation and expansion, which can have a detrimental impact on the future ability to retain existing businesses looking to expand or new businesses looking to relocate.

Discussions with tech startups have highlighted a major issue: the lack of appropriate property in convenient locations for expansion. Current methods of locating available sites have been ad-hoc, resulting in the inability to identify properties that are suitable for expansion. The City of Peoria is developing a strategic plan to provide businesses with the tools to locate suitable properties successfully. The approach involves inventorying multiple locations within a 50-square-mile radius. The City is motivated to help startups remain in Peoria and scale their business activities locally. We are committed to collaborating with planners, developers, elected officials, and others to classify properties that best meet your startup's expansion needs. Insights obtained from this challenge, along with planning and development support provided by the GPEDC, will play a significant role in shaping the strategic planning process of the City of Peoria.

Key Stakeholders

  • City and County Elected Officials

  • School Districts and other taxing bodies

  • Economic Development Council and other business oriented associations and groups

  • Existing Business

  • City Staff including (community development, planning and zoning, and engineering)

  • Illinois American Water company

  • Ameren

  • College/University Workforce Development

  • Lending industries

  • Real Estate Associations

  • Advisory Boards to the City Council

  • Residents


Proposers who have questions should send these to at any time until [one (1) week prior] to the due date for proposals. All responses to questions will be posted on the Challenge page on CivStart’s website at:

Responses to Questions

Can you please provide greater clarity regarding the strategic plan the City of Peoria is developing to provide businesses with the tools to locate suitable properties successfully? 

The strategic plan is a citywide priority exercise. Because the launch of the planning process begins in June. However, to the second part of your questions, ED staff is currently exploring better tools to for business to locate properties.

Is the City already working with or planning to retain a traditional strategic planning firm and this Challenge is designed to supplement those efforts, or is this Challenge intended to replace a traditional strategic planning process’ request for qualifications? 

The city hired Berry Dunn to support the strategic planning process. This Challenge will supplement the effort since the strategic plan will address all city operations and priority areas.

Can you please explain the relationship between this Challenge and The Big Table efforts in greater detail?  For example, what next steps identified during The Big Table efforts are currently being acted upon and should be incorporated into a scoping proposal?

Big Table GP is an annual event for the region to come together to discuss the challenges we face from a stakeholders perspective, including grassroots, the hope is that this information and the reports that arise will help us to better shape or CEDS as well as any other actionable opportunities in the focus areas.

Regarding costs, as currently envisioned this project would garner $500,000+ responses from traditional planning firms, such as Sasaki, Mackenzie, and Perkins + Will.  As the request is for a free or low-cost pilot, will there be opportunities, for example, for the startup to generate revenue from the successful execution of a plan it designs, such as through participation in tax-increment financing mechanisms, developer fees, special tax district (also known as “special service areas” in Illinois) assessments, and other success-driven elements it incorporates into the strategy? 

This would require more information, it is not in the city’s practice but would consider it.

Many of the analytics requests made by the Challenge do not require ongoing analysis.  As such, is it acceptable for a respondent to limit the pilot to analyze only certain factors and preserve value for a later awarded contract?  If so, what goals and objectives should be prioritized? 

Yes, I would like for the analysis to look at vacancies, I don't know if this is possible but also look at how buildings in the downtown can be repurposed for a different use.

Upon initial inspection, Peoria’s municipal data seems unavailable for public viewing, save for some geospatial information.  What data will be available to the startup to complete this challenge?  For example, will the startup have API access to regularly updated 311, code violation, building permit, business license, emergency service, housing court, real property assessment, county deed, fine, tax, and other similar datasets?  

Yes and No.  So some data that incorporates County too, can be located at  Outside that most city data like fines and business permits are in-house.

Many of the goals and objectives are finite projects. Can you please elaborate on your vision for an ongoing relationship between the City and Respondent post-pilot?

We would be open if the relationship makes sense and the data collected aligns with providing the city with some next-step opportunities.

Please elaborate on the planning and development support to be provided by the GPEDC?  Is the intent that they will support the Respondent’s efforts throughout the Challenge?

Yes, GPEDC will continue to support and engage on this work.


To apply for this RFP, please complete the Challenge-Response Form through the CivStart Local Government Innovation programs site at

The challenge response form will include the following questions:

A. Startup/Company Information

  • Company Name

  • Contact Name

  • Contact Email

  • Contact Phone Number

  • Company Website

  • Company Location/Address

  • Team Size/ Total number of team members in your company or team.

  • Case Studies: URL for background material on your product or team (i.e., video, case studies, blog piece, etc.), if any.

  • Briefly describe the product / service your company or team can provide (max 300 characters).

B. Program Expectations and Commitments

  • Interviews are anticipated to take place in May or June with the option of being done virtually or in person. Will you be available during this time?

  • Are you able to commit to visiting the location of this government organization once?

  • The response to this Challenge is to establish a free or low-cost short-term pilot with clear objectives identified in a Scope of Work. A full contract may be considered at the end of the pilot program.

C. Program Proposal

  • Description of your proposed solution.

  • How will your technology help the city achieve its outcomes?

  • Will you be creating a new product / service, or will you be customizing an existing product / service for this challenge?

  • What makes your team qualified to work on this challenge (i.e., previous customer success, professional experience, academic degrees, research, previous product development experience, etc.)?

D. Cost Proposal

  • What is the estimated range of the cost of you to build and pilot your proposed solution product / service?

  • What is the estimated range of average hourly labor costs for key staff required to develop and pilot your product/service?

  • What is the estimated range of any equipment or software that would need to be purchased to demonstrate and/or pilot your product / service?

E. Conflicts of Interest

  • Describe any potential conflicts of interest that your firm may have regarding the project, as well as individual conflicts of proposed personnel, if any.

Challenge ID:


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