ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The City of Rockford intends to use a donated, 20,000 square feet building on N. Main Street as a development center for minority and women-owned small businesses.

The building, at 1311 North Main Street, formerly housed Jerome Interiors, a furniture store.

The property was donated to the City by Peter and Heather Provenzano. Improvements, renovations and remediation will be made by the City before handing the space over, at no cost, to “Think Big,” a local non-profit committed to removing barriers that prevent minority and women-owned businesses from development and growth.

“Our donation and support are more than just a building,” said Peter Provenzano, president and CEO of Joseph James Partners and SupplyCore Inc. “Heather and I are committed to ongoing support of this new partnership between the City of Rockford and Think Big that improves access to education and mentoring an ultimately accelerates opportunities for local minority and women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.”

In addition to one-on-one counseling services for individual entrepreneurs, Think Big, which was established in 2018, has hosted a business resource fair and graduated 29 entrepreneurs through its business development boot camp.

The property, which Think Big is calling their “Minority- and Women-Owned Business Accelerator,” will provide technical assistance and training, a small business incubator, and other development services to small businesses and entrepreneurs in the community.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the City of Rockford to make our dream of a Business Development Center a reality,” said Shelia Hill, co-founder of Think Big.

“We know all too well how difficult it is for minorities and women to start and expand their businesses, and we look forward to helping our local entrepreneurs eliminate those barriers,” added Duntai Mathews, co-founder of Think Big.

The City will also provide $25,000 in “American Rescue Plan Act” annually to help support the center.