Peoria County, Ill., is trying to make it easier for businesspersons to
Tuesday is the kick-off for a series of eight outreach meetings County Board members and staff will hold throughout the county to get input from minority, women and disadvantaged business owners.
"What the county has seen is that there are a huge lack of dollars going to women- and minority-owned companies" as far as contracts with the county, said Rachael Parker, who heads the ad-hoc Minority Business Enterprise Committee for the county.
This first step involves gathering impressions and suggestions from people in the business community and entrepreneurs who want to establish businesses.
"What are your needs, what are the barriers," Parker said of the kinds of questions that will be asked.
"We need to know what they need help with in order to develop a plan in order to meet those needs as best we can," said county spokeswoman Jenny Fulton.
Ultimately, the effort is part of what will be at least a two-step process. Along with the meetings, people will be asked to complete a survey of their needs -- also available online at peoriacounty.org for those unable to attend any of the sessions.
Students from Bradley University aiding the effort will put together a first draft of the survey results and concoct recommendations by May for a strategic plan to address the needs of the business owners. County staffers will then take over the material, refine it and present a final plan to tackle the issues.
From there, "within this year, we're going to start formulating these workshops (to address those needs)," Parker said. The county also will work to connect business owners with people and institutions already in place to offer assistance.
The Minority Business Enterprise Committee of the Peoria County Board will have a series of outreach meetings to quantify the needs of minority, disabled and women business owners in the county. The meetings, open to the public and expected to each last one hour, will be at the following times and locations:
-- 6 p.m. Tuesday, Chillicothe Public Library, 430 N. Bradley St., Chillicothe.
-- 1 p.m. Wednesday, South Side Mission, 1127 S. Laramie St., Peoria.
-- 6 p.m. March 15, Brimfield High School Library, 323 E. Clinton St., Brimfield.
-- 6 p.m. March 20, Peoria NEXT Innovation Center, 801 W. Main St., Peoria.
-- 5:30 p.m. March 22, Tri-County Urban League, 317 MacArthur Highway, Peoria.
-- 3:30 p.m. March 23, SWAN, 2000 W. Pioneer Parkway, Suite 18A, Peoria.
-- 9:30 a.m. March 31, Alpha Park Library, 3527 Airport Road, Bartonville.
-- 1 p.m. March 31, Peoria Humane Society, 2600 NE Perry Ave., Peoria.
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