Regional business plan competition looking for entrepreneurs

News-DemocratFebruary 10, 2014 

A new regional business plan competition is soliciting entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the Metro-East Small Business Development Center in Edwardsville and East St. Louis have partnered to host the Metro-East Start-Up Challenge to support and recognize entrepreneurs throughout Southwestern Illinois.

Judges are looking for contestants with business plans or ideas for the local information technology, manufacturing or health care industries. Those start-up businesses and entrepreneurs that have been established since Jan. 1, 2011 and are headquartered in Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe, Randolph, Calhoun and Jersey counties are invited to compete.

The competition will be conducted in three rounds. First, entrants will need to complete a questionnaire and executive summary submittal. In round two, applicants that have been selected will be invited to submit a full business plan. By the third round, finalists will give their "final pitch" and a winner will be selected.

First prize is $10,000 in cash and eligibility for low-cost office accommodations in University Park. The second-place winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize.

Patrick McKeehan, director of the Metro East Small Business Development Center, said the competition will help identify these small business start ups and their importance to the region.

"This is why we are trying to bring great support and value for small businesses, which help create a majority of jobs in our economy each year and generate tens of thousands and livable wages for employees living in our communities," McKeehan said. "I don't think there has been enough interest in the past to put the spotlight on that and to find a way to support small businesses. That's what our focus is. We know that in the long term small businesses and entrepreneurs grow new product and services generated in our region that helps keep our economy growing."

Those interested can apply online at siue.edu/metroeaststartup. The entry deadline is Feb. 21.

Semi-finalists will be announced Feb. 28. The results will be announced on April 28.

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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