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By DENNIS GRUBAUGH
    EDWARDSVILLE — Business ideas that empower women and impact families have a shot at $70,000 in national cash prizes, but they must cross an important local hurdle first.
    The Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center at SIUE was chosen by the U.S. Small Business Administration to serve as a host organization for the 2016 InnovateHER Business Challenge.
    The winning concept from a 25-county area of Central and Southern Illinois will take home $2,500 and have his or her business plan submitted for national consideration. But time is of the essence. The local deadline to apply is Nov. 10, and SBDC must have the names of winners forwarded to SBA by Dec. 3 for the semifinal round.
    Ten finalists will then be invited to Washington, D.C, in March for a live-pitch round, sponsored by Microsoft.
    Locals have been scrambling to get the word out among entrepreneurs.
    “We rolled right out of the Startup Challenge and right in to this, virtually the next day,” SBDC Director Patrick McKeehan said, referring to the Metro East Startup Challenge, which awarded $25,000 to local entrepreneurs in early September.
    The eligibility rules are fairly open. Applicants must offer a product or service that has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families; have the potential for commercialization; and fill a need in the marketplace. Participants must be 18 or older and both male- or female-run businesses can apply, as well as non-profits.
    McKeehan said his office has partnered with a number of organizations across the region, including other SBDCs at Kaskaskia College and Lincoln Land Community College to pull the local competition together. Centrue Bank and Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd., agreed to serve as competition sponsors. Centrue will provide a $2,500 cash prize, and the Mathis firm will provide in-kind legal services.
    Regionally, three St. Louis winners will be chosen, one from the Illinois, one from Missouri and one from a student-level competition.
    PNC Bank, which sponsored the Metro East Challenge, has agreed to let the SBDC use $1,000 set aside from the Challenge to honor a winning student idea.
    Applications must be made online via https://app2.pitchburner.com/s1/site//InnovateHER by midnight Tuesday, Nov. 10. The SBDC and its partners will announce its local winner and nominee for the March 2016 national competition Thursday, Nov. 19.
    Contact the SBDC at SIUE for more information, (618) 650-2929 or Jo Ann DiMaggio-May, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IBJ Newsmakers

Edwardsville foundation to host new Legacy Awards

    EDWARDSVILLE – Edwardsville Community Foundation is making plans for its first Legacy Awards to be held on Dec. 3.
    The event will take place in the Leclaire Room on the N.O. Nelson Campus in Edwardsville. The Legacy Awards will honor those who have impacted Edwardsville school district communities through extraordinary contributions in giving and philanthropy.
    The awards will include a distinguished philanthropist award, an exceptional business award, and recognition of three outstanding non-profit groups. Each of the featured non-profit groups will also be honoring a remarkable volunteer.
    “The Edwardsville Community Foundation has had the honor to work with so many philanthropic and giving people since our organization was formed in 1997. The Legacy Awards will give us the opportunity to honor and recognize those individuals on an annual basis,” said Patty Navin, chairman of the Edwardsville Community Foundation. “It is our hope that the Legacy Awards will be the springboard for further philanthropic activity and recognition in our local communities.”
    The honorary emcee for the event will be KMOX Radio personality Charlie Brennan.
    The Legacy Awards will include a sit-down dinner, cocktails, award presentations and live musical tributes.
    For information or to purchase tickets, visit the website, edwardsvillecommunity
foundation.org/events.
    Edwardsville Community Foundation can be reached through P.O. Box 102, Edwardsville, IL 62025 or by calling Navin, the chairman, at (866) 464-3223.