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'Peoria wants you': Peoria Pitch Contest aims to bring outside businesses into downtown

Maxam Building
Promotional logo for the 2023 Peoria Pitch Contest hosted by Andrew Driscoll

After a year of limited interest in the former Broadway Lounge space, owner Andrew Driscoll is hosting the Peoria Pitch contest to bring in businesses from around the Midwest.

Driscoll said he hopes this contest will not only bring in a new tenant for himself, but an increase in businesses in the downtown area.

“I wanted to see 60 applications. And those applications would be specific to the restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue space. That's one of the things that is different about this sort of pitch competition,” Driscoll said, “Normally, when you think of it like Shark Tank, you see that it is geared towards a consumer business model, a product. When you think of a startup pitch competition, that is the tech industry, that's innovation.”

Applications to compete opened on June 12 and will remain open until July 9. Those who make it through the final stages will pitch their business idea on July 16. Driscoll said he plans to have the winning business up and running by October 1.

The winning applicant will be offered free upfront rent for the first three months, a reduced first year lease that will elevate over the next two to five years, and access to capital in the form of up-front funds for equipment or a limited partnership with Driscoll in the activation of various required permits.

Driscoll said the introduction of new businesses to the downtown area will make Peoria a destination spot for tourists and locals alike.

“The goal of this is not to have a successful business move in and put somebody else out of business,” he said “to me that's going backwards, we need everyone who's here now to continue to succeed and grow.”

Applicants who do not win may be referred to other vacant spots owned by other landlords around downtown. Driscoll said he hopes the influx of new businesses will brighten downtown and create a more cohesive downtown experience.

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Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.