A new chapter is providing new outlets for communication and support for business professionals.
The Black Business Alliance Peoria Chapter, Inc. (BBAPeoria) is a member-run, 501c3 nonprofit organization that seeks to provide educational information regarding workforce and business development and facilitate networking opportunities for business owners and other professionals. The vision: a community in which individuals, families and businesses alike can grow and prosper.
Serving the Underserved
The Black Business Alliance, Inc. was founded by Denise Moore in Bloomington, Illinois in 1999, with the Peoria Chapter (BBAPeoria) launching in September 2013. The need for BBAPeoria was reflected in the latest census data showing that minority-owned businesses in Peoria barely registered on the map, and African American-owned businesses were even less apparent. As a result, business development has largely been non-existent, and economic development in the African-American community has suffered.
On the surface, this may appear to be a project designed to serve the minority community, but hopefully we have all learned that successful cities are those that bring the underserved out of the margins. Words like “community pride” and “neighborhood stability” mean nothing without real job growth and business development. To this end, the noble work of social service agencies and community volunteers must be augmented with an infusion of investment dollars and strategic planning.
BBAPeoria’s current leadership consists of three board members. Jannise Bush, president, is owner of J.B. Virtual Administrative Services and business mentor with SCORE Peoria; Denise Moore, executive director, is CEO of Up4Moore, which specializes in personal empowerment and financial literacy, and a member of the Peoria City Council; and Lawson Giles, treasurer, is co-owner of Giles Accounting & Tax Solutions, LLC. Each of us brings a passion for empowering people to succeed. In the face of dire statistics, passion is one of the most important characteristics our board members can have because it ignites engagement, and engagement motivates people to participate.
By creating strategic partnerships with local government agencies, social service agencies, financial institutions, schools, neighborhood associations, religious institutions and business owners, BBAPeoria plans to employ a three-pronged approach for empowering and providing resources to underserved neighborhoods.
The Members Association (MA), the Community Business Development Center (CBDC) and the WPNV 106.3 LPFM radio station (WPNV = We’re Peoria’s Neighborhood Voice) will serve as strategic tools in helping individuals and organizations reach their full potential.
The BBAPeoria Members Association meets the first Monday of each month at 6pm in the old Blaine-Sumner school building at 919 Matthew Street. These monthly meetings focus on education, member/sponsor presentations and networking. Through December 31, 2014, they are free and open to the public—so anyone can come out and learn about the organization firsthand. Beginning in January 2015, BBAPeoria Member Association meetings will welcome members only; guests can attend for a modest fee.
Some MA membership benefits include the ability to use radio sponsorships to promote their business or organization. In addition, individuals exploring the possibility of starting their own business will have the opportunity to learn lessons from established business owners, network with other business owners and take advantage of the monthly educational topics. Finally, those interested in investing in business startups will have a ground-floor view of the next up-and-coming business sensation.
Community Business Development Center
Launching in September 2014 in the Blaine-Sumner building, the CBDC will provide educational information on workforce and business development opportunities. For those interested in professional, administrative or technical careers, the CBDC will offer educational opportunities to enhance job-related skills. This will include soft skills training, as well as help for building resumes and job-search tips—steps critical for success in today’s business world.
For entrepreneurs, information and training on how to obtain federal and state certifications (DBE, MBE, WBE, etc.) will be made available, along with assistance in developing local contacts and contracts. Growth and development through the creation of effective business plans, financial intelligence and marketing analysis will set small business owners on a path to success.
Through a strategic partnership with SCORE Peoria, the CBDC will offer workshops such as Simple Steps for Growing Your Business and provide self-assessments to help determine if you have the passion and mindset necessary for business ownership. In addition, Bradley University’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship is planning a monthly business startup seminar, and Illinois Central College has expressed a desire to explore how it can collaborate.
We’re Peoria’s Neighborhood Voice
The vision for WPNV 106.3 LPFM is to be a catalyst, facilitator and provider of education and information so listeners can achieve personal effectiveness and business success, as well as an appreciation for music. The station will offer high-quality programming focused in the areas of health and fitness, financial literacy, business information, community news, current events, youth issues and cultural appreciation.
WPNV is a community-based communication system that will fill a void in two ways, according to Garry Moore, a veteran broadcasting professional and station consultant. “Some businesses and organizations in the Peoria area are behind the times with respect to using media to get the word out,” he explains. “Typically, in minority communities, information about events and opportunities are spread word of mouth and by distributing flyers, which is a hit-and-miss strategy. A large segment of the community is missing out on what’s going on.”
The station will also help meet a psychological need. When a community is not represented accurately in the media, the things they hear on the radio do not speak to them. “It’s as if they are nonexistent,” Moore continues, and “being force-fed other people’s culture.” A diverse community, he adds, requires diverse offerings.
Engaging the Community
As strategic communication will be key to success, BBAPeoria will seek to diversify its various communication channels. The first manner by which this will occur will be the regular inclusion of Latin music and information important to the Hispanic community.
Peoria’s minority community is devoid of a timely voice that speaks directly to issues impacting their community. Due to this lack of an “as-the-news-happens” communication vehicle, local events designed around education, crime prevention and health services often suffer from low attendance. In addition, the fact that such a medium does not exist here in Peoria fosters feelings of isolation and alienation. Just as society operates at its maximum potential when we promote diversity, so it goes with effective, strategic communication—in all communities.
That is why Peoria needs BBAPeoria: to drum up healthy mantras and nonviolent conflict resolution, to build economic awareness, and to add legitimacy to minority concerns. This organization will connect, educate and engage the community in a manner that is not currently being provided. iBi
Denise Moore is founder and Jannise Bush is president of the Peoria Chapter of the Black Business Alliance. The public is invited to attend BBAPeoria Members Association meetings at 6pm on the first Monday of each month. At the August meeting, Garry Moore will present a workshop entitled “How to Use Radio Sponsorships.” For more information, call (309) 839-2827 or visit bbapeoria.org.