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Alliance SBDC News

408 Fine Arts Factory

A professional musician who plays the flute, Sue Gillio, owner of 408 Fine Arts Factory, has always led young people to the arts. In 2010, Gillio decided to transition her art business to a simpler structure. To handle that change financially and legally, she turned to Bev Malooley at the SBDC.



Together, Malooley and Gillio developed a five-year plan. The plan blossomed in time into the 408 Fine Arts Factory. Gillio met her projection for student enrollment in one year, rather than five. Thus, Malooley and Gillio developed an entirely new five-year plan. In 2014, Gillio accepted the Illinois Valley Entrepreneur of the Year Award.


In 2017, Gillio began working with Amy Lambert, executive director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Starved Rock Country Alliance. With Lambert’s guidance, Gillio has led the effort to transform Peru’s Westclox Factory into a space for community and the arts. While tripling youth enrollment, she has established new art spaces in the Westclox complex. One new space can host an entire symphony one night and an entire wedding celebration the next.


Gillio says about her teaching, "I’m not teaching young people to become music majors. I’m teaching young people how to function well in society. The arts teach essential skills, such as punctuality and dedication." Thanks to her ongoing partnership with the SBDC, Gillio has expanded her art offerings, including niche programs in chess and fly tying.

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