The Illinois Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) and Turner Center for Entrepreneurship at Bradley University opened a new co-working space for business startups called Brave Launch Extended. The space, at the Peoria Next Innovation Center, will be available at no charge to all alumni of Brave Launch, a business accelerator program that started in 2016.
Dave Hendrick, who participated in Brave Launch 2016 with his business - Golf Score Changer, is looking forward to having access to this new space. “I didn’t know where to go with my idea. This program helped me better present my business. Now I still use it. I can ask questions about what to do and where to go next and I can help mentor others.” Larrice Dukes also participated in 2016 with her business - Duke Business Consulting. “This magnificent experience changed my life. In this program, I learned that key partners are a necessity and now I know where to look and what to look for. It’s such a great program.”
Jim Foley, Director of the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, says supporting business startup and growth in the Greater Peoria area is fundamental to the Center’s mission. “Starting a business and creating innovation requires hard work supported by mentoring, networking, and new tools and resources; this new co-working area will provide some of that.”
The space will be available via key card 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It provides lockers for personal items, a conference table, a seating area, whiteboards, conference phones, and a refrigerator and microwave.
Kevin Evans, Director of Illinois Small Business Development Center at Bradley, says feedback from Brave Launch showed how necessary it is to have this space. “The teams needed additional support and further development for their businesses after they graduate from Brave Launch. Now we have it thanks to the support of generous sponsors.”
Three sponsors helped make the space free of charge to the participants; UnityPoint Health Methodist ($10,000), Companion Life ($2,500), and Migration Risk Management LLC ($1,500).
Kate Carroll, Development Director for Unity Point Health Foundation, said her organization is proud to be a part of this program. “The people in this program [Brave Launch and Brave Launch Extended] are creative, collaborative and innovative. That is what small businesses are. We are excited to contribute to the growth and energy of these businesses and to this region.
Currently, the 20 teams that have graduated from the Brave Launch program will have access to the Brave Launch Extended space. Foley says most of them have expressed interest in using it.