A Celebration of Remarkable Journeys

Celebrating the remarkable journeys of 10 small businesses innovating their way through an unprecedented landscape

by Jan Wright, Publisher

Our annual small business issue features many inspirational stories—how companies were founded, their adaptation and growth, and their work building new opportunities at home and abroad. We are proud to once again partner with the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship at Bradley University to celebrate their remarkable journeys. Highlights include:

- How the Washington Chamber of Commerce evolved in the wake of a devastating tornado and amidst a global pandemic;

- The exceptional work of SCORE Peoria at a time when the need for business assistance is great;

- How Spang Gang Designs, LLC transitioned from a hobby to a thriving business in a few short years;

- Green Valley Manufacturing’s entry into the export market and ARi Global Solutions’ worldwide expansion throughout the U.S. and India;

- How Skid Steer Nation got its start by recognizing and filling a need in a niche industry;

- The success of CW Financial & Management Group in landing government contracts;

- A team of Bradley graduates who plan to make Peoria the most accessible city in Illinois through We Hear You;

- How Chris Ober of Black Band Distillery stepped up to help the community at the onset of the pandemic;

- The remarkable journey of Bear’s Bites as its Peoria-made products hit shelves across the nation.

Check out this issue to read how each of them is innovating their way through an unprecedented landscape for small businesses. As if the pace of technological change and creative destruction weren’t enough, we continue to face the impacts of an evolving virus running rampant. 

Another article, “How Prepared is Your Company for the Next Crisis?”, may be particularly relevant to businesses today. Some businesses get their start from a traumatic event, many live through one or more traumas, and most who perish do so due to trauma. The question of what keeps small business owners up at night is often answered by an impending crisis… or fear of one.

Preparing for a crisis is not the first thing a business owner usually thinks about, but it should be—if we have learned anything from the disruption of the past 18 months.

As a small business owner for 24 years, we were born of trauma, have endured multiple crises, and could not have survived without the support of our advertisers, underwriters and community partners. We are grateful for them and for our loyal readers. PM

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