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VP of Quad Cities and Planning Joe Rives, Bob and Blenda Ontiveros, WIU President Jack Thomas.
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WIU-Quad Cities Receives Ontiveros Gift to Support Three Initiatives

May 11, 2017

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MOLINE, IL -- Thanks to a generous contribution from founder and chair of Group O, Robert (Bob) Ontiveros, and his wife, Blenda, three Western Illinois University-Quad Cities initiatives received a boost today (May 11). The Ontiveroses announced a significant gift to support WQPT's Vibrant Neighborhoods project, the WIU Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center (SBDC/ITC) on the Quad Cities campus and WIU-QC minority enrollment initiatives.

"I offer my gratitude and appreciation for the Ontiveros' continued generosity to Western, and for this most recent gift, which will make a tremendous difference in the Quad Cities region," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "Thank you, Bob and Blenda, for believing in Western Illinois University."

The investment in WQPT will help raise the profile of the Mercado on Fifth events to a region including more than 400,000 households in a 15-county area of Iowa and Illinois. This will include two 30-minute programs showcasing Hispanic culture.

"WQPT is grateful for the generous support of Mr. Ontiveros," said Mary Pruess, WQPT director. "This will help us provide visibility to the Mercado on Fifth, as well as produce two documentaries about celebrations of cultural significance to the Hispanic community: Mexican Independence Day and Day of the Dead."

Mercado on Fifth is a non-profit outdoor market, founded by Ontiveros, in Moline's Floreciente neighborhood, which features local vendors, food trucks and live entertainment each Friday from 5-9 p.m. from June 2-Oct. 27.

The investment in the Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center at the WIU-QC campus will further establish these economic development entities on the WIU-QC campus. It is the Ontiveros' hope this gift will specifically enhance the outreach program efforts to minority business owners.

"It's important that WIU advance our social responsibility and the goals and objectives of the region by supporting community and economic development in our host communities and region," said Joe Rives, vice president of the Quad Cities and planning. "The SBDC has already been working in the Floreciente neighborhood to spur business development. This approved grant allows WIU to expand that presence and have a permanent WIU-QC campus location to ensure all Quad Cities' entrepreneurs are served."

The SBDC offers an array of services that can help a new business get off the ground, such as one-on-one business advice, marketing and branding consultation, economic impact analysis and much more. To help companies export or participate in global supply chains, the ITC can assist in understanding foreign trade zones, and evaluation of a company's readiness to export, among other services.

Finally, the Ontiveroses have directed funding to WIU-Quad Cities campus growth initiatives, including efforts to recruit new financial partners that will enhance Minority Enrollment Initiatives and scholarships.

"Blenda and I are proud to offer educational opportunities to minority students who may not have the financial means to obtain a higher education," said Bob. "As community leaders, we need to invest in our local talent to build a more diverse business environment in the future."

Group O is an end-to-end outsourcing provider specializing in marketing, supply chain and packaging solutions headquartered in Milan. The Ontiveroses have previously established an endowed scholarship for full-time Quad Cities students with demonstrated financial need.

"Western Illinois University is grateful to Bob and Blenda Ontiveros, as well as Group O," said Brad Bainter, vice president for advancement and public services. "They have been extremely generous to WIU over the years, and we are pleased to receive this gift that will assist three initiatives on the WIU-QC campus."

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