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2015 Metro East Start-Up Challenge expands to $25,000

EDWARDSVILLE – Entrepreneurs and new business startups are invited to compete in the 2015 Metro East Start-Up Challenge, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s second annual regional business plan competition.

metroeastchallengelogoThe $25,000 Challenge is organized by the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center. The purpose is to identify, encourage and support entrepreneurs and business startups across the SBDC’s nine-county service area.

The first-place winner will receive a $15,000 cash prize. Two runners-up will receive $5,000 each. Prizewinners will also receive an array of in-kind professional services.

For the second year, PNC Bank is the Challenge’s top sponsor. Other returning sponsors include University Park at SIUE and the St. Louis Regional Chamber. The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois joins the Challenge in 2015 as a major sponsor with additional support from the City of Edwardsville and Greater Belleville Chamber. SIUE’s School of Business, the SBDC’s host organization, will assist with facilitating the competition.

The 2015 Challenge invites entrepreneurs and startup businesses from four target industries: information technology, manufacturing, health care and food. For a startup business enterprise to be eligible, it must have been established after April 30, 2012, and be headquartered in the Illinois portion of the St. Louis Metro region (Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph counties). For pre-venture entrepreneurs, proposed new business operations will need to be located within the same nine counties.

The Metro East Start-Up Challenge includes three rounds, beginning with a brief questionnaire and executive summary submittal that is open to all applications that meet the eligibility guidelines. Participants selected for the second round are invited to expand on their business idea by submitting a full business plan. The last round is the “final pitch” in front of a panel of business experts.

For more information go to The entry deadline is Friday, June 12. Semifinalists will be announced Wednesday, June 17, with finalists notified on Monday, Aug. 3.


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