PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria NEXT Innovation Center celebrated 15 years of entrepreneurs on Wednesday.

The center has raised more than $415 million in equity and grant funding for the city. It is home to more than 50 start-up businesses and organizations, and they’re bringing in business from all over the world.

The goal of the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center is to create companies that can launch full-scale right here in Peoria.

Peoria Mayor Rita Ali, Bradley University leaders, and the entrepreneurs themselves spoke about their experiences Wednesday.

The Peoria NEXT Director, Mike Stubbs said the building on Main Street is the only one that offers research labs to start-ups within a 90-mile radius. He said this puts Peoria in a great position as they have created more than 1,000 jobs.

“If this building wasn’t here, those companies wouldn’t have started here. They would have started at least in Champaign, if not Chicago or St. Louis or Indianapolis. Since it’s been here we have launched Natural Fiber Welding out here which has created over 200 jobs in the area. Veloxity labs started here, which has recruited Ph.D. scientists from St. Louis and from Philadelphia,” said Stubbs.

The center has also hired and provided intern positions for more than 130 Bradley University students.