The Peoria City Council approved the renewal of a contract with Maricopa County Community Colleges for a Small Business Development Center during its Sept. 14 meeting.
The Small Business Development Center is an organization housed in a local community college, and it offers consulting services for small businesses within the city. It helps small businesses grow and learn about things like marketing and capital. Peoria is the only city that has an exclusive contract with the Small Business Development Center.
Deputy City Manager Katie Gregory said that the Small Business Development Center has served nearly 1,500 businesses since the intergovernmental agreement was approved in 2017. Peoria small businesses gained access to over $16 million in capital, and 41 new businesses opened with the help of the SBDC.
In addition to the efforts of the SBDC, the city of Peoria spearheaded various initiatives to support and promote small businesses. The city offers direct funding to small businesses and promotes them through a new video series and local campaign events.
In a video from the city’s promotional series, Dr. Chris Brooker, owner of Halcyon Health & Wellness, had nothing but good things to say about Peoria’s efforts to support small businesses.
“The city of Peoria, they’ve been fantastic, they pushed me in the right direction,” Brooker said. “I’ve been taken aback in a good way at how many resources and how well I feel like the city is trying to look out for the small-business owner.”
The support from the city and SBDC became more important than ever since the start of the pandemic.
“Everybody gathered together immediately to come up with ideas and solutions to help support the business community,” said Jennifer Stein, the director of communication and economic services.
Stein said that with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the city helped 77 small Peoria businesses. Also, the city immediately created a small-business task force that started reaching out to help businesses as soon as the pandemic hit. Due to the combined efforts of the SBDC and the city in response to COVID-19, Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat said she feels the investment for small-business support has been worth it.
“They’ve been invaluable,” Carlat said. “It’s so wonderful that we had them in place before the pandemic hit. They were just a lifesaver to so many companies.”
The city of Peoria allotted funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to assist local businesses, according to Neighborhood and Human Services Director Chris Hallett. The American Rescue Plan Act was passed by Congress in March, and the city council approved that $1.16 million will be used to help local businesses.
The Small Business Development Center, the economic and communication departments as well as the Neighborhood and Human Services Department have devoted an abundance of time and resources to Peoria’s small businesses. These efforts showcase the city’s lasting commitment to small businesses and their owners.
“It’s really wonderful what we’re doing for small businesses,” Carlat said. “They are the economic engine that moves not only Peoria but our entire country.”