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The construction noise of pounding hammers and ringing saws has given way to a new buzz in the air: Historic Turner Hall in downtown Belleville has been reimagined into a co-working space. Formerly a YMCA, Peer 151 is tapping into its original social and civic roots, turning a landmark building into a new co-working and training space where entrepreneurs and startups can get off the ground.
On October 16, 30 businesses will join together to launch the very first co-working space in the Metro East. To celebrate, Peer 151 is inviting everyone to tour the space and enjoy free beer, BBQ and live blues music this Friday night from 5–8pm at Main Street Brewing Company in Belleville. We caught up with its Executive Director, Chris Oswald, to find out more about this exciting new addition to the co-working community.
How did Peer 151 come about?
Kurt Artinger, who is a Belleville native, bought the property a couple of years ago, and his business, Replacement Services LLC, was located on the first floor. Using the rest of the building as a co-working space was always in the background as an option. When we met, I was a serial non-profit guy, passionate about helping people. This next iteration of my career just made sense. You help someone at their work, you’ve helped improve their quality of life. And there just wasn’t anything like Peer 151 available on the metro east side of St. Louis.
Speaking of the Metro East, why did you choose Belleville?
Downtown Belleville is a reemerging environment. I moved here with my family from Columbia, IL, because I wanted to be a part of the revitalization that’s happening here. I wanted a walkable neighborhood, easy access to great shops and restaurants. I would love to see more entrepreneurs make Belleville their home and create momentum toward even greater revitalization. This area has the perfect kind of vibe to attract young entrepreneurs. We are hoping to make Peer 151 a hub for people to come, to be mentored, and to successfully launch their businesses.
What types of businesses do you expect to see utilizing the space?
We think there’s a pretty vibrant community of innovators here. Our businesses range from attorneys to real estate to coders and software developers to everything in between. Our goal is to assemble a community of creatives, entrepreneurs and technology leaders that will make a difference in the area. We want to provide a space for them to come together. We want to provide an environment where people are around their peers, they can do their work independently, but they can fall back on support and collaboration when they need it.
What does Peer 151 offer to entrepreneurs and startups?
You’ve got the typical amenities you’d expect at a top-notch co-working space: Wifi, printing, meeting rooms, great work stations, all of that. But we also offer mentoring relationships. Our slogan is “Work independently, not alone.” We’re all about connecting people to opportunities. So we provide advisory and mentorship teams through one of our partners, XLR8. They are really good at launching businesses, and the whole point of this space is to help startups get up and running.
We are also partnering with SIU’s business development center. We have space designated for them and their students to use for anywhere from six months to a year at a time.
With regular social events and expert discussions about technology, entertainment, and design, Peer 151 aims to be a permanent address for positive change.
For more information on the grand opening activities, read here.