Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Peoria Opportunity Center

Flying mainly under the radar (the JSEB did issue a concern about spending for this project on 2/9/2010) is the County and the City of Peoria plans to open a business center (PAOC) to develop a mixed based incubator for minorities and women-owned businesses that is sponsored by the Heartland Foundation who had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on January 31, 2006 with LPA Associates.

I attended the first Town Meeting held on June 29th, 2007 at WTVP Studios. The consultant presenting was Lawrence P. Albertson (LPG). He predicted the new of 30,000 sq. ft. for the project. I was the only County Board Member attending. Since then this project has moved along slowly with the County setting aside $400,000 for what it describes "a location with staff that would provide a centralized location for prospective business owners to get all the information they need to start a business. Currently, entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses have to visit anywhere from 4 to 7 places for consulting, loans and more."

A sign of our times: When I opened my business in 1964, I had only to consult with my landlord, bank and my suppliers. After 6 months I hired my first salesperson and went from $0 to $11,000,000.00 in 28 years, while trying to borrow money from some of the tightest local banks in the country. And yes, I was a minority as I was not from Peoria and the banks wanted to know who my Dad was and open being told he was a dirt farmer, were reluctant to lend me any money, Commercial Bank offered a $5,000 line of credit which I accepted.

Today, we are borrowing money from China to build sidewalks.

This Opportunity Center appears to be an offshoot of a May, 1993 program to "Build Peoria", a job training center estimated to cost $2.3 million, not including staffing costs, etc. Perhaps parts of this program have gotten off the ground but the plan never went into full effect.

It would appear to me that most entrepreneurs would need job training BEFORE trying to own a business. Unless government funded like, say, FireFly. I trained for 8 years with, at that time, one of the best companies in the country.

With the issuance of a 27 page study bu LPG, came the stunner, the acquisition of sites at 725-741 W. Main, renovation and infill construction came to $4,500,000.00 not including cost of furnishing, staff and staff training, more consultants, etc.

And no estimate of operating costs.

It is interesting to note who was or is on this PABO committee: Bradley's Bob Scott; the projector of the $14 million a year in new spending that the new museum will bring into the Peoria, Roger Luman of Bradley, Sally Hanley, EDC, Susan Gorman of ICC and the Reverends Pierce and Criss.

Rachel Parker, who served with the cities EDC, a short stint on the #150 school board and now a County Board member and with Patrick Urich, now city manager and a strong supporter of the concept, expect this this project to keep moving forward despite a double dip economy. Business people: "Minorities" will be using your dollars when the Opportunity Center opens, to launch new businesses competing against you. While you, if like me, probably never received a dime in taxpayer subsidies.

LPG predicts an 87% survival rate of small businesses coming from incubators.

Coming from a consultant, that appears to be "ABOUT" correct.

This article is just another call to Peoria to "Wake up".

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