A Publication of WTVP

Business News – In Brief | September 2023

by Peoria Magazine |
Business News in Brief

Doug Cruitt

Distillery Labs has named Doug Cruitt as its new executive director. He comes to the Peoria technology and innovation center as the founding principal of Eureka-based RIVR Strategic Coaching, a boutique consulting firm specializing in entrepreneurship, leadership and strategic support. He also has served as a mentor at Distillery Labs and at the University of Illinois iVenture Accelerator program, while being a committee member for the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School. Cruit has founded or helped others launch and scale more than 15 startups. He succeeds Paul Leamon, the organization’s first director.

Téa Wheat

Heartland Community College has named Téa Wheat as assistant director of TRIO Student Support Services, where she will help college students from traditionally disadvantaged backgrounds. In the new position, Wheat will manage programming and services including academic, personal, career and transfer counseling.

Steve Shaw, longtime producer/photographer for WEEK-TV, has retired after 45 years at the station. His primary responsibility has been shooting commercials and videos for advertisers. Shaw also produced the St. Jude Telethon for more than 35 years and Bradley University basketball telecasts for 15 seasons.

Steve Shaw
Steve Shaw
Dr. Molly Gribb

Dr. Molly Gribb, dean of the Foster College of Business and the Caterpillar College of Engineering and Technology at Bradley University, retired in July. During her tenure, Gribb strengthened ties between the business and engineering colleges and created opportunities for the faculty and staff to work across disciplines to enhance teaching and learning. She paved the way for Bradley to gain membership in the Kern Family Entrepreneurial Engineering Network in January 2023.


Crystal Hartman
Crystal Hartman

Crystal Hartman has been hired as retail manager for the Heartland Bank and Trust Company Morton North branch at 179 E. Courtland St. A Pekin resident for 30 years, Hartman has created a financial literacy course for soon-to-graduate young adults and is president of Pool Days, a three-day event to raise funds for the Limestone Community Pool. She is co-founder of the Limestone Chamber of Commerce.

Kiran Velpula

Peoria City Council member Kiran Velpula has been selected to participate in this year’s Edgar Fellows Program, which offers opportunities to engage with experienced public policymakers from across Illinois. Forty policymakers were selected from a field of 210 nominees from businesses, government and nonprofits. The Edgar Fellows Program originated in 2012 and is hosted at the University of Illinois Systems Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

George Manias, longtime owner of George’s Shoeshine and Hatters at 101 SW Adams St. in Peoria, will be honored with the Peoria Historical Society’s 2023 Henri de Tonti Award. The annual award recognizes individuals and organizations that demonstrate outstanding community leadership and service. Manias, 92, will be feted at a public celebration Sept. 21 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum. Tickets are $100 and are available at or by calling 309-674-1921. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Proceeds will support the work of the Peoria Historical Society.

George Manias
George Manias

Illinois Central College brought home multiple awards from the 59th annual Skills USA National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC). Among the winners were Wyatt Rumbold, with top honors in HVACR (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration); Noah Wynkoop, 5th place in Diesel-Powered Equipment Technology (DPET); and Dawson Stone, 16th in the nation for welding. Dual-credit students from Pekin Community High School represented the ICC Cisco program, as well. Cade Perfetti placed 9th in Internetworking; Jon Wiles finished 7th in Telecommunications Cabling; and Kent Olson took gold in Information Technology Services.

The Heartland Community College chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) honor society received the prestigious Most Distinguished Honors in Action Project Award in recognition of a two-day speaking seminar called Hawk Talks. In addition, Heartland PTK was recognized for its Honors in Action Project, which encompassed the chapter’s extensive research and development of an event or project based on the findings. Based on performance across both projects, the organization was honored with the Outstanding Chapter Award.

Following its annual business meeting in June, the board of directors of the Fine Arts Society of Peoria installed its 2023-2024 officers and directors. They are Ann Kenney Lynch, president; Wendy Bowles, vice president; Betty Jane “BJ” Lawrence, secretary; Martha Bond, treasurer; and Patricia Franzen, Richard Gentry, David Gregory, Shirley Harper, Judy Johnson, Roberta Koscielski, Jennifer Lee, Kristan McKinsey, Marguerite D. Ross and Kay Webber, directors.

Misty Dykema, co-owner and principal of Simantel, the Peoria-based marketing agency, has been elected vice president of the Americas board of directors for the Advertising and Marketing Independent Network (AMIN) Worldwide. AMIN is a global network of more than 50 independent marketing agencies. The Americas board oversees the network’s activities in North America and South America and coordinates with activities around the world.

Krishnanand Y. Maillacheruvu, Ph.D.
Krishnanand Y. Maillacheruvu, Ph.D.

Bradley University has named Krishnanand Y. Maillacheruvu, Ph.D., as interim dean of the Caterpillar College of Technology and Engineering and Foster College of Business. He will work closely with the faculty, staff and university leadership to position the Foster and Caterpillar colleges for sustained success.

Peoria Public SchoolsPeoria Public Schools has been awarded $50,000 from the state’s Arts and Foreign Education Grant Program. The grant comes from a partnership between the Illinois Arts Council and the Illinois State Board of Education. The program assists school districts and other eligible applicants with the development or enhancement of programs in the arts and foreign languages. The PPS grant was one of 13 grants statewide totaling $825,000.

The Village of Peoria Heights kicks off its quasquicentennial — its 125th birthday — with three days of events in September. The festivities begin on Thursday, Sept. 7, with the Taste of Peoria Heights running from 5 to 9 p.m. along Prospect Avenue in the Heights Downtown. Friday, Sept. 8, and Saturday, Sept. 9, bring a children’s amusement park to the Tower Park area. An Artisan Market will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the core Business District. A Classic Car Show will be held on Saturday, as well, at or near Heritage Square. During all the above events, Peoria Heights history exhibits will be on display at multiple locations but specifically at the Peoria Heights Public Library and at Village Hall. All of this is a prelude to the main event Saturday, Nov. 11 with a gala at the Peoria Country Club.

The State of Illinois and Health Alliance have announced the annual Fall into Fitness Virtual 5K/10K Challenge for state wellness plan members. Held Sept. 15 – 25, the event offers a guided experience for individuals to set fitness goals, win prizes and engage with other wellness plan members. Register through Sep. 25 at The event is sponsored by Health Alliance, Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) and Be Well Illinois, the state’s workforce wellness plan.

After a three-year hiatus, the Big Picture Peoria Street Festival will return to the 1300 block of SW Adams Street in Peoria from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 9. The interactive arts event includes multiple activities, plus food and vendors. Admission is donation-based. For more information, go to

Travel back in time and explore the rich history of Peoria Heights on an air-conditioned shuttle bus tour sponsored by the Peoria Historical Society and Wheels O’ Time Museum on Sept. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The tour includes the village’s history of bicycle manufacturing, Glide automobiles and Charles Duryea’s pioneering automotive work. Tickets are $55 and include a box lunch. Get tickets at or call 309-674-1921.

Automotive enthusiasts can still register for the third annual WTVP Roundo, a clued tour of central Illinois and car show taking place Sept. 16, with stops throughout the region. The clued tour starts at 11:30 a.m. at Kauth & Mayer, 1710 W. Detweiller Drive, and ends at the WTVP Studio, 101 State St. Auto enthusiasts are invited to a public car show at the WTVP Studio from 3:30 to 7 p.m., featuring vintage and one-of-a-kind high performance cars. Admission to the car show is free. There is a $100 fee to participate in the clued tour, which includes lunch, an event poster and adventure instructions. Event and sponsored trophies will be awarded. Information and registration is at

OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center is a clinical trial host for ILLInet RECOVER, a nationwide initiative from the National Institutes of Health aimed at understanding and treating long COVID. Since the program began in August 2022, 166 patients have been enrolled in the Peoria area, and 717 in the Chicago area. OSF HealthCare, the Peoria City/County Health Department, Carle Health and the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria are collaborating on the program.

The Heartland Community College Alumni Association is seeking nominations for the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus award. The award recognizes notable Heartland alumni who demonstrate exceptional achievement in their profession and make a positive impact on their community. Nominations are due Sept. 15. Complete and submit nomination forms at

The Junior League sponsored an exhibit, “Empowering Women, Leaving a Legacy,” at Peoria Riverfront Museum on July 13. Pictured (back row) are Megan Homan, Lisa Platamura, Laura Presley, Carly Scott, Amanda Marcanio, Rachael Austin, Alicia Strank and Krystal Roop, (front row) Christina Robinson, Christi Walker and Sandy Garza

Junior Achievement of Central Illinois and the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council announce that GP CareerSpark will return for a seventh year on Sept. 28-29 at the Peoria Civic Center. GP CareerSpark is a dynamic career exploration expo for eighth grade students in the region, providing hands-on activities showcasing the region’s diverse careers in health care, manufacturing, business, agriculture and more. Central Illinois educators who wish to sign up their eighth-grade students for the experience may contact Junior Achievement at [email protected]. There is also a need for volunteers to help make the event a success. You can sign up here: CareerSpark is made possible by a grant through Illinois Charitable Trust, support from Accenture, PNC, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Peoria County ROE #48, and Chase Bank.

The Turner Center for Entrepreneurship and Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Bradley University will present a webinar, “Artificial Intelligence: What Is the Big Deal and How Can It Help You and Your Business,” at noon on Monday, Sept. 11. Attendees will learn the basics of AI technologies and their applications in business and social media. The presenter will be Dan Hucal, technology consultant leader with SKB Cyber. Details and registration at