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Metro East Start-Up Challenge first-round deadline extended

From Illinois Business Journal news services

EDWARDSVILLE – Organizers of the 2015 Metro East Start-Up Challenge, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s second annual regional business plan competition, announced an extension of its first deadline to 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17. The original deadline was Friday, June 12.

“Our goal is to provide every entrepreneur and business startup the opportunity to successfully participate in this year’s expanded competition,” stated Patrick McKeehan, director of the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center and MESC administrator. “We expect interested applicants to use these extra five days to continue refining their business idea to improve their chances of winning.”

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. Challenge finalists will compete for $25,000 in cash prizes, an increase of $10,000 over the last year’s competition. The first-place winner and two runners-up will also receive an array of in-kind professional services.

PNC Bank is the Challenge’s top sponsor for a second consecutive year. 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, Greater Belleville Chamber and SIUE’s School of Business.

For more information on the Metro East Startup Challenge or to initiate the application process, go to

Semi-finalists will be announced Monday, June 22, with finalists notified Monday, Aug. 3.

The Metro East Startup Challenge will announce its cash prizewinners Friday, Sept. 4, in conjunction with the Leadership Council’s September Board Meeting in Collinsville.

The Illinois SBDC Network 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 SIUE School of Business.

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