PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria’s Distillery Labs is launching a new round of its start-up accelerator program, helping local entrepreneurs go to the next level.

Recently, the innovation and technology hub welcomed 5 new starts-up into its gBETA accelerator program.

“They go through a 7-week very intensive course, of classwork and assignments, and interactions with professionals,” said Chris Setti, CEO of Greater Peoria Economic Development Council.

Start-ups going through gBETA range from election information apps to lifestyle and wellness products. Setti said the goal is to help each business become investment ready.

“Getting them to hone their pitch, hone their value proposition, maybe make some decisions about what their market segmentation is,” Setti said.

Peoria County is investing $300,000 dollars over 3 years for gBETA. County administrator Scott Sorrel said supporting the program was an easy decision.

“Small business owners are what drives the local economy. There’s a statistic out there that 90-some odd percent, maybe even more of the local economy is driven by local business,” Sorrel said.

Setti said a Peoria-based company like Natural Fiber Welding began as a start-up with 2 employees and that number has now grown to over 300. gBETA is about creating more of those success stories.

“That’s why this is important, that companies can start here and grow here, that’s what broadens our economy, diversifies our economy, and just make it stronger,” Setti said.

A new gBETA application process is expected to start sometime around March of next year.

Inflation has caused leaders to slightly re-design the Distillery Labs facility in downtown Peoria, creating a delay. Bids for construction are also expected to begin at the start of next year as well.

gBETA participants include Alevan Botanica, E-Code, the CLAW, WooshBall, and Perikles.