The Busey Bank Bridge space aims to foster financial literacy and economic growth on the South Side of Peoria

Residents of South Side Peoria have a new place to go for financial information, education and advice.

A grand opening ceremony on Wednesday afternoon featured the Busey Bank Bridge, a community space intended to improve the region’s financial literacy and access to economic opportunity.

“It means so much to Busey to be able to reinvest in the South Side community, to open a financial resource center, to provide education for individuals to learn more about how to manage their credit, how to fix their credit, how to become owners,” said Briggett Meachem, senior vice president of cash management. “Even as simple as how to manage a checkbook and how to manage your checking account. We’re excited to be able to do this for the community.

Formerly a loan processing office, the bridge space at 2120 Southwest Adams Street will offer resources and outreach programs to help individuals, families and small business owners in the neighborhood.

“We have partnered with several nonprofit organizations in the Peoria area to ensure that we provide these educational resources and seminars,” Meachem said. “Not everything will really happen here on the bridge; we will disseminate this information. We will also visit non-profit organizations and organize courses. So we’re really looking forward to putting our boots on the pitch.

Andy Cave, president of Busey Market in Peoria, said the intention was to bridge the gap between “the unbanked and the banked.”

“We’re trying to reach a segment of our population that doesn’t currently use banking, make them comfortable with it, and teach them about the principles and the value that banking brings to the table,” said Cellar.

Busey actually began operating the bridge in January and gradually worked to build relationships with other community organizations, as well as government agencies and private businesses. The site has already hosted a handful of seminars and workshops, with the next event scheduled for Wednesday focusing on the types of credit available to small businesses.

“I’m very grateful for the investment they’re making in the South Side of Peoria, an area that has a lot of needs, definitely financial literacy needs,” Peoria Mayor Rita Ali said. “It’s really what I would consider an equity investment, which means they invest in people. They remove some barriers that people often encounter when applying for loans, whether it’s a personal loan or a small business entrepreneurial opportunity.

Busey Regional Chairman Martin O’Donnell said the bridge program was designed to increase inclusion in the community’s economic development, and he is eager to see how these efforts will develop.

“There’s been a long history of community involvement and service here in the Greater Peoria area, so this facility is really going to build on that and help make everything better,” O’Donnell said. “We are truly committed to helping the greater Peoria area continue to grow and to help serve the community we live in and all of us are a part of.”

Meachem said some of the organizations the bridge will work with include the Black Business Alliance, Tri-County Urban League, Phoenix Community Development Services (formerly the South Side Office of Concern), and Peoria Public Schools.

“Start at a young age, that’s when you can invest in them,” Meachem said. “Once you invest in children when they are young, you put it in their families. You engage everyone else in the household to understand what it is all about and what financial education has to offer. »

The Peoria Bridge site is the first of its kind for Busey, with plans underway to open similar spaces in the Chicago and St. Louis markets.

“We’re really proud to have it here in Peoria, and we hope to replicate that concept in various locations across Busey’s footprint,” Cave said. “Busey, as a whole, really has a sense of volunteerism and commitment to his communities. This spirit, in my opinion, is particularly strong in Peoria, and it made it an excellent choice for Busey Bridge Center.

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