Peoria, Ill.,
18:12 PM

Introducing Distillery Labs

World-class innovation center recalls Peoria’s past while looking toward the future.



Distillery Labs is coming, and is poised to make a lasting and significant impact on the Peoria business community for generations to come.

Business leaders, elected officials, entrepreneurs and community members “gathered” virtually on Wednesday, May 6, for the unveiling of Distillery Labs, the renaming and rebranding of what had been known as the Peoria Innovation Hub.

“We love the name and the brand,” said Bob Sehring, CEO of OSF HealthCare and Chairman of Distillery Labs. “The brand looks to Peoria’s future while recognizing and celebrating our shared past. It is perfect for the community-driven, forward-looking, and inclusive space we are committed to building.”

Distillery Labs, which will be funded through a $10 million grant that is part of the larger Illinois Innovation Network, will be located at the Thomas Building, a 50,000 square foot facility formerly occupied by Illinois Central College. Distillery Labs will ultimately be a tech, innovation and incubation community designed to foster opportunity throughout the Peoria region. It will have classes, workshops, public-private partnerships, student opportunities, and more.

“I’m so excited about the progress and the potential for Distillery Labs,” said Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey, President of Illinois Central College. “At ICC, we’re proud of our ability to be involved with this process and find a thriving new use for this building. More importantly, we’re optimistic about the work that Distillery Labs will do around workforce development and creating opportunity for a new generation of employees in and around Peoria. That is a central focus of our work and we’re looking forward to partnership with Distillery Labs on this effort.

The brand was created through a collaborative process that involved community input alongside professional brand and design work. The Marketing Communications team at OSF HealthCare worked with the Distillery Labs board and Jake Hamann to construct, devise, and build the brand and associated materials. 

“It was an honor to work on developing the brand for Distillery Labs,” said Jake Hamann, Founder and Executive Director of the Peoria Innovation Alliance. “Thoughtful input from a diverse cross-section of the community resulted in not only a name and logo, but a set of values and guiding principles that truly reflect the potential that this initiative has for our entrepreneurial ecosystem and ultimately, our regional economy.”

Distillery Labs will be dedicated to finding solutions to improve the wellness of underserved populations and advance systems related to food, farming, and transportation – specifically autonomous mobility - and will contain spaces for startups, corporate partners, community organizations, universities and other stakeholders. A specific focus of the Labs will be crafting a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment, with the organization taking steps to ensure that the Labs look and feel like Greater Peoria from the start. 

The process to build Distillery Labs, and the community supporting it, began in earnest late last year. The facility is expected to be open in 2021. 

OSF HealthCare, the University of Illinois System, Illinois Central College, and the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council are all working together to develop Distillery Labs. Construction will be funded by the state of Illinois, with a local match from OSF HealthCare, ICC, and others. 

The Peoria Innovation Hub is governed by a five-member Board of Directors and will be part of the Illinois Innovation Network (IIN), a statewide initiative led by the U of I System to foster breakthrough research, discovery, and entrepreneurship that drives progress, job creation, and economic growth. 

Some elements being considered for Distillery Labs include: 

  • Makerspace with machinery: Facilities for manufacturing prototypes with equipment such as lathes, drill presses and laser cutters, plus equipment for 3D printing and modeling for artistic and fashion-related disciplines. 

  • Digital makerspace: Virtual reality software and simulation devices that would build on the advances within OSF HealthCare and the city’s simulation, gaming, and virtual reality innovation groups.

  • Computing infrastructure: Cloud computing, server architecture, and data integration would allow for creation of advanced applications to fuel creative pathways including artificial intelligence (AI) to expand information management and analytics. 

  • A rooftop greenhouse to experiment with urban farming and hydroponic techniques. A commercial kitchen for piloting a food pharmacy and restaurant concept testing, along with new and different food preparation methods. Classrooms for conventional courses for new entrepreneurs and students from higher education partners and the community.

  • Office space, classrooms, and conference rooms for entrepreneurs, startups, and satellite offices for larger corporations that want to access resources of the Discovery Partners Institute and IIN.

In terms of next steps, there are several actions underway to keep things moving and advancing forDistillery Labs:

  • Committees are meeting regularly in the following areas of focus: Engagement and Operations, , Community, Programming, Building and Space. Anyone interested in joining one of these committees should contact

  • There is an active search underway for an executive director. Please send all inquiries to

  • A design RFP was recently released and more than 15 viable applicants were received. The Distillery Labs committee is working through these responses.

“Everything about Distillery Labs is so exciting, and brings such opportunity for the future of Peoria,” said Christopher Setti, CEO of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. “There is much work to be done to complete and launch the facility and the community. I am confident that, working together, we’ll build the sort of institution that will shape the future of the area and live up to the lofty expectations and potential of its name and brand.”


The Peoria Innovation Hub, launched in 2019, is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to supporting the development and operation of Distillery Labs.

OSF HealthCare is an integrated health system owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, headquartered in Peoria, Illinois. OSF HealthCare employs more than 23,600 Mission Partners in 147 locations, including 14 hospitals – ten acute care, four critical access – with 2,097 licensed beds, and two colleges of nursing throughout Illinois and Michigan. The OSF HealthCare physician network employs more than 1,500 primary care, specialist and advanced practice providers. OSF HealthCare, through OSF Home Care Services, operates an extensive network of home health and hospice services. It also owns Pointcore, Inc., comprised of health care-related businesses; OSF HealthCare Foundation, the philanthropic arm for the organization; and OSF Ventures, which provides investment capital for promising health care innovation startups. More at  

OSF Innovation, launched in 2016, is the overall umbrella initiative for the planning, structure, goals, and services OSF HealthCare uses to innovate for the improvement and transformation of health care.

The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with nearly 86,000 students, about 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually. More at 

Illinois Central College is dedicated to changing lives and is a community college leader in transfer success and workforce development with campuses in East Peoria, Peoria, and Pekin. The College serves over 19,000 credit and non-credit students annually, offering 160 programs of study and awarding more than 1,800 degrees and certificates annually. For more information on ICC‘s high-quality, affordable programs, visit 

The Greater Peoria Economic Development Council serves Logan, Mason, Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties, a federally designated five-county Economic Development District. In collaboration with our local economic and workforce development partners, we drive economic growth in Greater Peoria through targeted business and talent development and attraction.

The Peoria Innovation Alliance is a 501c3 organization dedicated to fostering a collaborative movement to reposition the Greater Peoria region and change its narrative to one of inclusion, optimism, and progress through the support and celebration of innovation, entrepreneurship, and startup activity. More at