Reader Area Development, Inc. was established in 2011 by Erik W. Reader, a Financial Analyst at the time who realized he had a weak spot for renovating neglected properties. Reader left a career in the cubical with a software development company to move cross-country from Dallas, TX to Peoria, IL. The mission was to get involved locally with community redevelopment efforts, when time and money permitted purchase properties to rehab, and to become an advocate of all things smart and sustainable.
Located in Peoria, the area was once a manufacturing hub and like most rust belt communities of the 20th century it had a thriving economy. Unfortunately, like many Main Street communities across the Midwest, a century later things have been in rapid decline. Therein lies opportunity and endless potential seen by Reader in an area otherwise written off by most.
Reader Area Development has taken a responsibility to the neighborhood very seriously. There are several cogs in any city that need to work cohesively in order for it to be successful. The goal of Reader Area Development is not to be involved in just one effort but many mutual efforts in order to help rebuild and revive.
Currently, Reader is an active member with various local organizations from serving on the Pekin Main Street board of directors to being an appointed member of the City of Pekin Planning Commission. He is always seeking ways to become more involved, to create unique partnerships, and focus on a Back to Basics approach to community planning.
It can be said for buildings as well as cities that they are as only strong as their foundations. Reader Area Development agrees with urban historian Jane Jacobs when she writes, “Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”
Reader Area Development’s president Erik Reader believes that more of an emphasis to preserve historical buildings and spaces needs to take place. Not solely for the sake of nostalgia, but by preserving old building stock to serve as incubators for new, innovative, and creative ventures.