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Peoria City Council steers federal money toward violence-reduction programs and more small-business help

Kimberly Richardson talks
Chris Francis
Assistant City Manager Kimberly Richardson talks to the Peoria City Council about the RISE small-business grant program.

The Peoria City Council voted Tuesday night on two measures related to federal American Rescue Plan funding, using the money to help prevent violence in the city and to give grants to small-business owners.

Both measures were championed by Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich, with comments offered by Community Development Director Joe Dulin and Assistant City Manager Kimberly Richardson.

Urich first asked the council to greenlight an initiative that would allow community organizations to propose violence-reduction programs to the Peoria council, who could then decide whether to grant American Rescue Plan funding for those programs. With the measure passing unanimously, the city will make application forms available to the public next week.

“We’ll do our best to get it out to as many people as possible with the desired outcome of having the best programs come forward.” Dulin said.

The minimum award for an accepted proposal will be $50,000 with a maximum of $250,000.

Following that measure, Urich advocated for another to expand the funds available to the Recovery, Income, Startup, Expansion (RISE) small-business grant program in Peoria. RISE has nearly tapped out its initial funding of $350,000 giving assistance to local businesses struggling through the pandemic and entrepreneurs looking to start new small businesses. Urich asked for up to $1.5 million to extend the program.

“It’s a wonderful problem to have,” Richardson said.

Richardson also touted the program’s ability to effect racial and gender equity in Peoria, noting that 70% of grant awardees have been women of racial minorities.

The motion passed unanimously, but the amount to be given to RISE has not yet been decided.

The American Rescue Plan was a federal bill signed by President Joe Biden in March 2021 that in part granted $350 billion to state and local governments to help make up for budget shortfalls during the pandemic and fund new state and local programs.

Chris Francis is a WCBU correspondent. He joined the station in 2022.