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Startup assistance launches new businesses in Galesburg

Galesburg Startup Assistance grant recipients.
Jane Carlson
Tri States Public Radio
From left, Michael Spinks of the All-Star Sports Academy, and Michelle Johnson and Kaley Chapman of Lavender Lotus Yoga Studio.

The city has been awarding grants of up to $10,000 to women, minority, and south-side entrepreneurs

New businesses owned by women and minorities are popping up around Galesburg – and so are businesses on the south side.

Since late last year, the city has been awarding startup assistance grants of up to $10,000 to women, minority, and south-side entrepreneurs – in collaboration with the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development.

The grants are paid from American Rescue Plan Act funds that were awarded to the city, and are meant to complement existing resources for business owners while focusing on underserved populations and geographic locations.

Michelle Johnson was awarded startup assistance for Lavender Lotus Yoga Studio, 113 S. Cherry St., which opened early this year.

She said it wasn’t just the funding that was helpful – but also support and guidance from KCAP, on things like writing a business plan and getting a business license.

“I really wasn’t sure where to start, and they really broke it down for me, step by step, how I needed to make that process happen. And they were very supportive the whole entire time,” Johnson said.

The bright and peaceful space is a new home for the local yoga community, with a handful of instructors – including Johnson – teaching morning, noon, and evening sessions.

Johnson said she started scouting potential locations over the summer. Then she heard of the space on South Cherry Street.

“As soon as I walked in, I was like, this is it. It’s a nice, big open room. It’s got beautiful windows in the front. It’s downtown. That was another important thing. I wanted to be downtown. I wanted to be close to Knox,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, a couple miles southeast of downtown, Michael Spinks is breathing new life into the former Skate Palace on East Knox Street.

“I’ve tried to get this building for almost five years now. And I finally got it and I’m trying to put it back to where it was before, when I grew up coming to the skating rink,” Spinks said.

The rink has a fresh coat of paint and new bathrooms, the sound system is up and running again -- and Spinks has already hosted skating events for youth.

He got startup assistance from the city for the All-Star Sports Academy. He too said the Knox County Area Partnership and support from the city has been instrumental to turning his dream for the property into a reality.

Reopening the skating rink is one part of the plan. So is a sports coaching business in the building. But that’s not all Spinks has in mind.

“My dream is to put batting cages in a building next door to here, along with an arcade, a youth center, and I have land back in the back where we’re looking to do miniature putt-putt golf,” Spinks said.

Spinks says the project is important for the entire city because it’s a place for kids and adults to hang out together – and to the neighborhood.

He said he’s trying to recreate a type of place from his childhood where youth can stay, have fun – and be safe – for hours.

Other business to receive startup assistance from the city include the Galesburg Selfie Museum, Therapy for Positive Aging; Opie’s Bar and Grill; Malley Farms; Dame Fine Coffee; MBs Food Truck; Haynes Beauty; and Brittany’s Boutique.

More information about the startup assistance is available on the city’s website.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson is TSPR's regional reporter.