Peoria, IL (February 16, 2017) Cesar Suarez, Senior Development Director, City of Peoria
Six minority-owned and operated businesses will each receive $2,500 in prize award money under the Minority Business Implementation Grant (M-BIG) Program established by the City of Peoria in conjunction with Peoria County. “I’d like to congratulate the award winners and all those who applied,” commented Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis. “The program offers a great starting point for new minority businesses in our City and also provides technical assistance to many of the applicants.”
Grant recipients ranged from a bakery to a web application project. The prize winners included: Creativity Uncorked, Lindsay’s Dependable Cleaning Services, Reign Construction, Riley’s Cupcakes, Scious Inc. and Superkidz Party Zone. The award recipients were selected from among 24 applicants judged by a panel of business advisors involved at SCORE, Bradley’s Small Business Development Center, and the Minority Business Development Center, as well as the City and County of Peoria.
Local artist Rashad Reed and manager Sharon Reed opened Creativity Uncorked, their creative expression business, in August 2016 at 815 SW Adams. “Our business provides hands on, do-it-yourself art experiences for individuals, group, and organizations,” stated Sharon Reed. “We’re delighted to be an award recipient, and will use the funds to market our private-party, team building, and art as therapy services to corporations and not-for profit organizations”.
Janet Smith, owner of Lindsay’s Dependable Cleaning Service, started her business in October 2016. “I feel proud that I’m following in the footsteps of my late father, who also had a prominent cleaning business under a similar name,” said Smith. “I’m very encouraged by this grant to grow my business and will use the funds for equipment and inventory.” Her business started with a cleaning contract with the City of Peoria and has now grown to several locations. Bridget Booker, President of Reign Construction Inc., performs all aspects of the ironworker trade. She incorporated her business in December 2016 making her the first African American female ironworker contractor in Peoria. She is also the first African American Woman journeywoman ironworker in Local 112 and the first recipient of the Trailblazer Award from Illinois Central College. “Starting a business is a great challenge yet I’m up for it. The award will help me offset the cost of needed equipment,” said Booker. “I appreciate the funding and the technical support received through the M-BIG program.”
“The funds will be a great help in launching our business and will be used for inventory and working capital,” said Riley Greenwood, owner of Riley’s Cupcakes & Coffee, soon to open at 315 Main Street across from Peoria County Courthouse. “We want our shop to be a place for cupcakes and conversation and encourage our customers to unplug from technology and connect with other people in the community,” added Greenwood.
Scious Inc., under the leadership of Andrew Agostini, will be utilizing the funds to continue software development. “I’m developing a web application that will make it easier for investors to map relationships between companies and their owners… which is currently costly and cumbersome,” explained Agostini. “This grant will buy me time to seek additional funding, continue my work, and test the viability of my product.” Agostini’s project is still in the prototype stage and has the potential of scaling up to high job growth.
Superkidz Party Zone, is scheduled to open this March. This party place for kids will be located in the Sterling Bazaar Plaza at 3311 N. Sterling Avenue in Peoria. The husband and wife team of Charles and Alice Brown identified a need for a unique party store. “We have created a fantasy-themed, dress-up, party place for celebrating birthdays and special events for families with young children,” said Ms. Brown. “We’ll be using the funds for promoting our store and installing a new sign for our storefront.”
“We were impressed with the overall response of the M-BIG Program. Over 100 people expressed interest in the program, 43 registered, 16 attended a workshop, and 24 applications were submitted,” said Cesar Suarez, Senior Development Specialist for the City of Peoria. “We support growing minority owned businesses and look forward to working with our partners to increase funding opportunities,” said Suarez.
Funding for the M-BIG program came from the City of Peoria’s Startup-In-A-Day grant received from the US Small Business Administration and National League of Cities as well as a grant from Peoria County. The panel of business advisors who served as judges included: Kevin Evans from the Small Business Development Center at Bradley, Lee Maki and Jack Russell from SCORE, Denise Moore from the Minority Business Development Center, Charles Randle from Illinois Business Financing Services, and Barry Robinson representing Peoria County.