September 25, 2015 3:58 pm  • 

DECATUR — Juan Luciano sees development of the Midwest Inland Port as an example of how innovation is being embraced in Decatur.

Luciano, the president and CEO of Archer Daniels Midland Co., sees further opportunities to change the economic outlook for Central Illinois.

“You can truly feel the momentum building,” Luciano said Friday during an event at Richland Community College to officially launch a marketing effort for the port. “This is a moment to start thinking bigger about the possibilities in Central Illinois.”

To enhance the possibilities for change, Luciano said plans to support business growth in Decatur. He announced the company’s $2 million investment in the National Foodworks Services project being developed in the former Brush College School.

The investment will help transform the school into a food incubator with state of the art equipment that fits with ADM’s focus on developing products using healthy ingredients, Luciano said. National Foodworks can lead the way in the transformation of Central Illinois into a preeminent center for food and beverage innovation in the Midwest and perhaps the nation, he said.

Luciano said ADM will further be launching a food and beverage challenge to move entrepreneurial ideas off the drawing board onto the plates of consumers.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner supports the efforts of ADM and other companies in Decatur to enhance development opportunities for the area.

“It’s an exceptional opportunity,” said Rauner, who met with members of the Midwest Inland Port Strategic Development Coalition before a presentation to a group of business and community leaders. “It’s got incredible potential,” Rauner said.

Rauner said changing the culture in Springfield will benefit pro-business growth efforts. Bad state government policies have not helped, he said.

“We’re going to change that,” Rauner said. “Today is a key step in that process. We have every reason to thrive in Illinois.”