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Metro East SBDC chosen to host ‘InnovateHer’ business competition


From Illinois Business Journal news services

EDWARDSVILLE – The U.S. Small Business Administration has selected the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a local host organization for its “Innovating for Women” business competition.

InnovateHER 2016 is a business competition open to everyone with products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. The Illinois Metro East SBDC joins more than 70 other entities across the country serving as a host organization.

Each host will nominate a local winner for the national competition held next March in Washington, D.C., during Women’s History Month. Ten finalists will be given the opportunity to compete for $70,000 in prize monies provided by Microsoft.

Robert Steiner, SBA’s Illinois district director, called InnovateHER a tremendous opportunity for Illinois entrepreneurs to show how they can empower the lives of women and families through innovation. “We’re thrilled to have SIU Edwardsville hosting this business competition and the opportunity to showcase Southern Illinois’ most talented innovators” said Steiner.

Patrick McKeehan, director of the Illinois Metro East SBDC, considers the InnovateHER business competition – much like SIUE’s Metro East Start-Up Challenge – a highly effective means to identify and support entrepreneurs and startups in our region.

“These business competitions help us connect with innovation happening across our region,” said McKeehan, whose organization provides no-cost, one-on-one counseling, business expertise to entrepreneurs and existing business owners.

Centrue Bank and the offices of Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. are sponsoring the local competition with a total of $2,500 in prize monies. There is no entry fee to compete locally, but a completed business plan is required to compete at the national level.

The winner of the Metro East InnovateHER competition is to be announced Monday, Nov. 30, and automatically advances to the semi-final round in December. For more information, call the Metro East SBDC at (618) 650-2929.

The SBDC network aids entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success. It provides one-stop assistance to individuals by means of counseling, training, research and advocacy for new ventures and existing small businesses.

When appropriate, the SBDC strives to affiliate its ties to the region to support the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the university at large. To learn how the SBDC can help your small business, contact the Metro East SBDC at (618) 650-2929 or

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