PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – There’s always someone learning something at the Minority Business Development Center in Peoria. Felisa Durr is one of the people making sure that happens. 

“We come here everyday with a goal of just trying to improve our community,” said Durr, the center’s IT Program Manager.

Spearheaded by CEO Denise Moore, the non-profit offers dozens of grant-funded workshops, bootcamps and trainings for those looking to get more resources in contractor development, IT programming, workforce solutions, and most notably entrepreneurship. 

Durr said, “Anybody that have any idea—just a small idea about a business—they can come here. We can start from the napkin sketch of the idea, all the way to getting their businesses open.”

The MBDC touts successes of local, small businesses like It’s A Vibe Selfie Studio in Peoria and Triple Dipple’s in Chillicothe, where the entrepreneurs got their starts with the help of the MBDC.

Durr said, “The fact that somebody has gotten their business started and they made that first dollar and we can say we had a part in making that successful for them, that’s where we find the joy from.”

But you don’t have to have a big business idea to utilize the services here. Eileen Cornish is learning the small steps of how to use a computer. 

“My grandkids are constantly telling me—no. I’m calling them and they’re letting me know, they don’t want to talk on the phone. They want me to text them and face phone them, and do all these things,” Cornish said. “So, I knew it was time that I stepped up and did something.”

Cornish and her classmates recently completed the center’s five-week Digital Skills Ready Program, funded by AARP. It teaches those 50 and up basic computer functions, like turning a computer on, creating an email and using the internet.

“I didn’t know a lot of this,” Cornish said. “And these are things that on the job that I had, we just didn’t have this experience. And now that we realize it as we’re getting older, this is what we’re going to have to deal with, whether we want to or not.”

As a grandmother of 18, Cornish is now able to connect with her family in ways she never would’ve imagined. 

“I’m able to get on there and we’re able to talk and look at one another and I’m able to text them at night. And they’re able to just do the things—show me things that I didn’t know how to do until I came here,” she said.

The Minority Business Development Center’s reach is also growing. In November, the non-profit expanded to the Twin Cities offering additional resources for up and coming entrepreneurs at a new location in Bloomington’s Eastland Mall. 

“We can help improve Peoria, make it the place where it plays in Peoria,” Durr said. “And literally, the people who come here walking out of our doors, way more comfortable, way more competent and way more confident that they can go and achieve whatever they dream.”

The Minority Business Development Center in Peoria is located at 2139 SW Adams St.