Fighting the Food Desert
For the last two years, Peoria’s South Side has been without a grocery store. Since the Aldi at 210 S. Western closed its doors, First District Councilwoman Denise Moore and the community have been working to establish healthy food alternatives for area residents. Those efforts have paid off with the announcement that a new Save-A-Lot will soon open at the former Aldi site.
“Prayers and wishes of the community have been answered,” Moore declares. “Now residents will get fresh fruits, vegetables and meats and will not have to travel so far to shop for those items.” The new Save-A-Lot will offer shoppers an average savings of 40 percent compared to other conventional grocery stores and greatly improve residents’ access to fresh produce, dairy, USDA-inspected meat and other household items. The discount grocery store plans to open early this summer.
How Do I Get Started as a Small-Scale Developer?
It doesn’t need to be overcomplicated, says John Anderson of Anderson|Kim Architecture and Urban Design on the Strong Towns podcast at strongtowns.org. “The process of becoming a developer is actually quite simple and straightforward, but it is not easy.” According to Anderson, the following tasks are critical for any small developer trying to get their first project off the ground:
- Do your homework and produce a pitch package. “Without doing your homework, you don’t actually know if the project will make money,” he says. The pitch package serves as a tool to help you explain how the project makes money to a potential capital partner… or to someone who will lead you to a potential partner.
- Get control of the property you want with a purchase contract. You should think of this legal contract as a way to finalize your interest in buying, and the seller’s interest in selling. Remember to read between the lines!
- Find a capital partner (or investor) who can meet bank requirements for a construction loan. Without an investor willing to put up 20 to 25 percent of the project costs, you likely won’t meet the bank’s requirements, Anderson explains.
- Negotiate a construction loan with a small, local bank. Tip: The more confidence you have in your project, the easier it becomes to ask others to invest in it.
Check out the Strong Towns podcast at strongtowns.org/podcast for more ways to help build stronger cities, towns and neighborhoods.
Save Your Local Economy
What three independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in. Say hello. Pick up something that brings a smile. It’s your purchases that keep those businesses around, suggests the 3/50 Project, a campaign to save brick-and-mortar shops. Founded by retail consultant and public speaker Cinda Baxter in 2009, the 3/50 Project seeks to educate consumers about the importance of shopping local. “If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue,” touts the site. The project’s goal is simple: Pick 3 companies. Spend 50 dollars. Save your local economy. Learn more at the350project.net.
A View from the Cloud
The Kern Group, a Peoria-based electronic security company, recently announced the addition of hosted video services to its professional suite of security solutions. Merging surveillance and business operations into a powerful intelligence gathering platform, the program, PDQView, helps protect your business by eliminating the need for expensive and complex on-site recording hardware, software and maintenance; it also prevents the loss or theft of video.
Already utilized by law enforcement in several cities across the country, PDQView is different from many programs of the past, which required individuals to register their security cameras with police. Instead, the service uses HD commercial-grade network cameras to send all video securely to the cloud for remote access and storage. Because of the unique way the data is stored and retrieved, it’s easy to share video with authorities in the event of an emergency, allowing remote access in real time as an event unfolds. And it’s easy to use.
“All they need is an internet connection, which virtually every police vehicle has, and the login credentials,” says R. Scott Kern, managing partner. That makes it appealing for schools and government facilities, as well as private businesses. For more information, visit kerngroupsecurity.com.
Templates for Freelancers
Frustrated by watching other freelancers quit their passion because they didn’t understand how to run a business, Peoria-based video artist Matt Blick realized he had the tools to help. By turning the successful business resources from his own video production company into templates for others, he founded freelancekits. Geared for freelancers of all types—with an affinity for creatives in design, video and photography—the local startup company provides business resource templates designed to help freelancers get organized and save time. In this, Blick hopes to help others succeed in the pursuit of their creative dreams. The Nest, Peoria’s coworking space on SW Adams, recently announced a partnership with freelancekit, offering its members a 10-percent discount on the product. For more information, visit freelancekit.com.
To be Human...
A national traveling exhibit exploring the complex field of human evolution research will be on display in the Peoria Public Library Main Library Gallery from June 17th through July 14th. Based on the permanent Smithsonian exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History, What Does it Mean to Be Human? sheds light on human origins through panels, interactive kiosks, hands-on displays and videos. For a schedule of speakers and special events during the exhibit, visit peoriapubliclibrary.org.
In April, Concordia Lutheran School held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new expansion at 2000 West Glen Avenue. With its $3 million fundraising campaign well underway, the renovations will include an EF5-rated storm shelter; a new, contemporary façade; and a 16,000-square-foot expansion to accommodate safety, academics, fine arts and athletic capabilities. NBA star Shaun Livingston of the Golden State Warriors—a 2000 Concordia graduate—made a sizeable contribution to kick off the public phase of the capital campaign. To learn more, visit concordiapeoria.com or call (309) 691-8921.
Just a Number
The average peak age of athletes and entertainers tends to be fairly young... and they’re not alone, suggests Fast Company magazine. Mozart was writing symphonies in his teens. Einstein and Hawking peaked in the field of physics in their 20s. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone at age 29. But according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, we have the capacity to excel at any age. Researchers found the potential for high-functioning brain activity peaks in our 50s, remaining high until our 90s and functional into the 100s.
Generic “please hold” messages are perceived as a major irritant for customers, but according to a recent study, Midwesterners actually feel more valued if they hear customized voice and music messages while on hold. The survey of over 2,200 American consumers, conducted by audio branding specialist PH Media Group, discovered 64 percent of Midwesterners feel more valued if they hear voice and music rather than a dial tone, beeps or silence. Sixty-five percent consider a business to be more professional if tailored messages are played over the telephone system. The takeaway? Use voice and music—it’s an easy way to strengthen your company’s image.
A Specialty Niche
With its recent acquisition of Midwest Foundation, Byrne & Jones Construction, the St. Louis area’s largest commercial paving contractor, is expanding as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. Based in Peoria, Midwest Foundation installs piling foundations and serves the bridge construction industry, offering demolition, construction and repair, lock and dam rehabilitations, and equipment leasing. The operation will remain in the Peoria area, where it employs seven people in its office and up to 50 people in the field, depending on work volume. Rick Tockes will manage the new marine division, which has a fleet of 16 barges and two tugboats. iBi