(L to R) PAAR Government Affairs Committee Chairman Pat McCarthy and PAAR President Laura Martin present Ryan Spain of the EDC/Heartland Partnership a check for the "young professional poll."

What makes a community an attractive place for young professionals to live and work?

The Peoria Area Association of REALTORS® (PAAR), with advocacy funding from the Illinois Association of REALTORS®, is assisting the Economic Development Council of Central Illinois/Heartland Partnership in finding out with a survey to assess what individuals in the 20-39 age bracket are looking for when deciding where to live and work.

The greater Peoria area is competing for jobs, resources and talented people. Without an accurate picture of its regional strengths and challenges, planning for a successful future can be difficult. The proposed poll will gather the data needed to better understand and create solutions to grow our communities.

The Peoria Area Association of REALTORS® has an established track record of collaborating with the local economic development community including representation on committees and partnering on projects including the Comparative Property Tax Market Study and sponsoring the economic development handbook, “Open! How to Make and Keep Jobs in Your Community.”

Earlier this year, the Peoria economic development community unveiled the 2102 Greater Peoria Economic Scorecard, designed to measure the economic progress of the five-county greater Peoria area against 11 peer and aspirational cities.

The scorecard measured multiple indicators across five broad categories: economic performance, people, innovation, entrepreneurship and business, and livability. The greater Peoria area ranked fifth in overall livabilityA few of the concerns identifed on the scorecard with regard to livability were:

 1.  The percentage of the population in the 20-39 age range is lower in the greater Peoria area than in its leading peer cities and the trend is moving in the wrong direction.  Thriving communities tend to have a higher percentage of young professionals among their population.

 2.  The greater Peoria area labor pool is aging at a faster rate than its peer cities and it must begin to implement strategies to expand the labor pool to attract workers in the 20-39 age range.

3.  Attractiveness of a region goes beyond economic benefits.  Cost of living, public safety, volunteerism, culture, healthcare access and even commute times are important.

The poll will enhance the livability findings from the 2012 Greater Peoria Economic Scorecard and will offer a specific and unique use of this data to cater to the targeted demographic segment.