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Peoria Next Innovation Center celebrates 15 years in the West Bluff

Peoria Next Innovation Center celebrates 1
Collin Schopp
Center director Michael Stubbs addresses community leaders and business owners at an event celebrating Peoria Next Innovation Center's 15th year.

The Peoria Next Innovation Center is celebrating 15 years of fostering growing businesses.

The building in Peoria’s West Bluff is currently home to 15 different companies, ranging from construction to bio-tech. The center’s director, Michael Stubbs, said there have been 52 companies launched from there over the program’s lifetime.

“That’s really the idea,” Stubbs said to a crowd of community leaders and business owners at a celebratory event on Wednesday. “Really looking at Peoria as a way to leverage intellectual capital, leverage the ideas that we have here, make sure that we can continue to grow and launch great companies.”

The center leases co-working space, offices and research labs to promising startups, slowly raising rates and space overtime until the companies outgrow Next and make their move into the community.

“You’ll be able to walk down the hallway, you’ll see a couple of empty units. And you’ll say, ‘Oh, there’s an issue here,’” said Stubbs. “That’s what this building is for. So, that’s really something to celebrate, in order to get a broader pipeline to get companies in there.”

Other speakers included Dr. Chris Jones from Bradley University that manages and operates the Peoria Next Innovation Center.

Joshua Gunn, CEO of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor Rita Ali also praised what the center has accomplished.

“Innovation is happening in Peoria,” said Ali. “Because we are a community that celebrates community success, and are familiar with the innovative businesses that call Peoria home.”

Some notable success stories out of the Next Innovation Center include Intellihot, which makes commercial tankless water heaters, and Endotronix, a company working on technology for wireless heart monitoring.

Some of the current tenants of the building also were at the event, including Bridget Booker, owner of Reign Construction. Her business is five years old and has been involved in iron working projects with Ameren and OSF.

“I would just like to say, Peoria Next is more than just a building,” said Booker. “It’s home. It’s foundation. It’s where people can grow. It’s where people can get an understanding and work with one another.”

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.