Collaborative Work Space Opens in Downtown Belleville
Southwestern Illinois’ first startup incubator/accelerator, Peer 151, celebrates its grand opening October 16 in downtown Belleville.
Peer 151 Executive Director Chris Oswald equates the new incubator/accelerator to a smaller-scale or “velociraptor” version of St. Louis’ successful T-REX innovation community in downtown St. Louis. The 6,000-square-foot collaborative workspace – located on the second floor of the newly restored Turner Hall building at 15 North First Street – provides a flexible work environment along with support services for entrepreneurs, startups and business professionals.
At $125 per month, Peer 151 tenants receive affordable space plus utilities, high-speed Wi-Fi access, shared conference rooms, coffee bar, break room with adult beverages on tap, CEO-level guest speakers and more. The Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville plans to offer its business counseling services at Peer 151 and signed on as one of the first organizations to champion an office within the workspace.
Metro East SBDC director Patrick McKeehan is excited about the launch and the options it provides entrepreneurs.
“This new innovative space creates another valuable asset as we continue our work on regenerating an entrepreneurial culture in Southwestern Illinois,” said McKeehan. “We look forward to working closely with Peer 151 and its clients.”
Oswald says the startup business incubator is actively seeking 30 memberships from a range of startups, small businesses and professional service providers. Peer 151 is well on its way, he says, to achieving that objective with the goal of successfully launching four or five new businesses every year.
“We’re grateful to Patrick McKeehan and his organization for its early support,” Oswald said. “The SBDC, along with the SIUE School of Business, are key partners in getting Peer151 and our tenants started on the right track. In fact, we have already received a number of referrals from SIUE and hope to move in one or two by January.”
Peer 151 closely studied the success of T-REX and the Cortex Innovation Community as models of how to launch and operate an incubator.
Local business owner Kurt Artinger purchased the two-story, 48,000-square-foot, 90-year-old building in which Peer 151 is housed from the City of Belleville two years ago. Artinger’s company, Replacement Services LLC, occupies the ground floor.
“We made the rounds in the St. Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem to gain input from incubator experts there,” Artinger said. “The true measure of Peer 151’s success, beyond the collaborative work space, will be its capacity to nurture and grow entrepreneurial activity. This is one of our first major endeavors, and we’re proud of it.”
For more information on Peer 151, see www.peer151.com or contact Oswald at email@example.com.
The Metro East SBDC assists ventures like Peer 151 across the nine-county Metro East region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is a service to the community supported by the SBA.
By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. It enhances the region’s economic interests by providing one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses. When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large. To learn how the SBDC can help your small business, contact the Metro East SBDC at (618) 650-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.