Distillery Labs executive director presents at Rotary on $10 million grant from state

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — $10 million is coming from the state of Illinois to launch Distillery Labs in downtown Peoria.

It’s a place that will help local entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

The executive director of the new Distillery Labs, Paul Leaman, said they can use this money to purchase and restore the old Thomas building in downtown Peoria and get the building opened within the next year.

The old ICC building will soon once again be filled with classrooms and offices; this time to support the innovation of small businesses in the Peoria area. Leaman said it’s an exciting venture for Peoria and the surrounding area.

“Distillery Labs is really a place to unite people, ideas and resources to develop new businesses and launch new businesses across the region,” Leaman said.

Leaman spoke at the Peoria Rotary Club’s meeting on Friday in downtown Peoria. He said with the state grant they can buy the old Thomas Building and refurbish it from head to toe and make it a place for long-term growth in Central Illinois.

“Long-term, the number of new businesses developed are going drive new employment opportunities, new ideas,” Leaman said.

The Distillery Labs will be a part of the Illinois Innovation Network and will be located near some of the city’s other biggest innovators like O.S.F. And Caterpillar.

Rotary club member and member of the tri-county regional planning commission ray lees said the goal is to keep the talent of businesses in Peoria.

“I think there’s some practical but also symbolic reasons of having it in the core of the urban area and the center of the Peoria region,” Lees said. “It’s important I think with the governor’s announcement to make the public aware of the significant investment the state is making in the Peoria region.”

The center will feature a place for workshops, a makerspace and a test kitchen.

Right now the project is still in the design phase with construction expected to start this summer with a targeted grand opening of next March or April.

It’s located at 201 SW Adams St in downtown Peoria.

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