In This Episode:
Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Matter for Economic Development

Wunderkind Joshua Gunn talks to us about his impressive life story — from signing his first hip hop record deal at 13 years old, to his stint as VP of the Chamber of Commerce in Durham North Carolina, to his current roles as the President and CEO of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and the CEO Council. Joshua may not originally be from Peoria, but it’s extremely hard to tell. His passion to grow the city into “the most equitable” city in the Midwest resonates in every spoken word. With a strong emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, Joshua sees unlimited potential in the midsize city that sits right in Central Illinois.

While we cover economic development, Joshua covers the marketing and branding challenges behind growing a city’s population. Which, to be honest, are challenges all marketers that are selling a service or non-tangible item face. Peoria, IL has a lot to offer to citizens, visitors, conventions and businesses, but many people don’t know it. So how does someone in Joshua’s position work toward his lofty goals? It starts with bringing everyone to the table. Greater Peoria 2030 is an initiative bringing together many entities through the city and tri-county area with one goal in mind: growing Peoria’s population and economy over the course of 10 years.

Tune in to hear more from the insightful leader and his plan to take Peoria to greater heights — while cultivating the next generation of leaders. He helped kickstart a wave of hope, revitalization and pride in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina and is excited to now do the same in Simantel’s home town. We’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy Joshua’s infectious energy as much as we did.

“How do you build an economy that’s supportive of an equitable world? You do that by inviting everyone to the table from the beginning, considering all parts of your community from the beginning.


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About Joshua Gunn

LMarketing and Branding a City with Joshua GunnFrom an early age, Joshua Gunn embodied the entrepreneurial spirit. A native of Durham, NC, he started in the music industry as a young child, signing his first record deal at 13 years old. By 19, he started his own entertainment company, releasing five albums and producing several nationwide and international tours. At the height of his hip hop prowess, Joshua also graduated from North Carolina A&T, one of the nation’s top-ranked HBCUs in the country — kickstarting a career that would bring real change.

Before moving to Peoria in 2020, Joshua served as VP of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce in North Carolina. Through this work and his involvement in the community, he gained invaluable experience in Public Policy, Community and Economic Development, Business Advocacy, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion and creating and sustaining entrepreneurial ecosystems. After four impactful years of advocating for economic equality and development, Joshua made the difficult decision to leave a place he loved for a place he saw overflowing with potential. In July 2020, he was named President and CEO of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce and the CEO Council. Learn more about Joshua on LinkedIn.

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