Entrepreneurs and new business start-ups are invited to compete in the Metro East Start-Up Challenge, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s first regional business plan competition.
The Start-Up Challenge is sponsored by University Park at SIUE and the Metro East Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The Challenge seeks to identify, reward and support entrepreneurs across the SBDC’s nine-county service area.
“With strong overall interest and a large number of partially completed entries, we’ve pushed the entry deadline back one week to Friday, Feb. 21,” said Patrick McKeehan, director of the SBDC in Edwardsville and East St. Louis.
The St. Louis Regional Chamber and PNC Bank are supporting the competition as award sponsors. SIUE’s School of Business, the SBDC’s host organization, is assisting with facilitating the competition.
The first-place winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize. The second-place winner will receive $5,000. Both awards also include an array of in-kind professional services. In addition, the Challenge winner may be eligible for low-cost office accommodations in University Park.
McKeehan believes the Challenge will generate a number of regional benefits. Those include increasing the interest in and excitement for business start-ups along with identifying “high-impact” start-ups for possible location in the Metro East.
The Metro East Start-Up Challenge competition invites entrepreneurs and start-up businesses with business ideas from the following three industries: information technology, manufacturing and health care.
In order for an existing small business enterprise to be eligible, it must have been established after Jan. 1, 2011. Existing business enterprises must also be headquartered in the nine-county St. Louis Metro East region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. For pre-venture entrepreneurs, proposed new business operations will need to be located within the same nine counties.
The Start-Up Challenge will complement SIUE’s “Other 40” business plan competition, which is annually hosted by the School of Business and open solely to students. The title speaks to the fact that although 60 percent of new businesses do not succeed, the other 40 percent do.
The Metro East Start-Up Challenge includes three rounds, beginning with a questionnaire and executive summary submittal that is open to all applications that meet the eligibility guidelines.
In round two, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full business plan.
The third round is the “final pitch,” open only to successful second-round participants.
Apply at siue.edu/metroeaststartup. Semi-finalists will be announced Friday, Feb. 28, with winners announced Monday, April 28.
The Metro East SBDC is a service to the community supported, in part, by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the SIU Edwardsville School of Business. SIUE operates two Small Business Development Centers and the International Trade Center. All Centers provide resources, information and support to entrepreneurs, small business owners, service providers and the University community.