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Metro East Business Incubator partners on free virtual services for entrepreneurs

The MEBI Hub is the Metro East’s first free, virtual platform for local entrepreneurs to start, build and grow their businesses

The Metro East Business Incubator on Thursday today joined digital platform Startup Space and state and local officials to announce the launch of a free virtual hub that will link local small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs with resources specifically curated to support their success.

The MEBI Hub on Startup Space will serve “as a one-stop-shop virtual location” for aspiring businesses to find vetted local business resources, discussion boards, training and education, grant and technical assistance programs, curated community events, and more.

“Engaging Startup Space enables the MEBI to further its mission to provide an environment that fosters business development and sustainability,” said Michael Holmes, vice president for Workforce Development for the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and president of the MEBI Board of Directors. Programs of the MEBI are geared to support underserved groups within the community, especially entrepreneurs of color, older entrepreneurs, veterans and women.

The partnership includes launching the first free online hub dedicated to supporting small businesses in our community and democratizing access to related resources. To deliver these services, MEBI has partnered with leading technology platform, Startup Space, as an ecosystem partner.

“Startup Space was founded with the singular vision to make it easier to start a business anywhere and create a pathway for wealth creation for entrepreneurs,” remarked David Ponraj, founder & CEO of Startup Space. “Everything we do is focused on helping communities succeed through entrepreneurship, so we are excited to launch the MEBI Hub as a key to providing local small businesses with greater access to the opportunities, information and support needed for entrepreneurs in the Metro East to thrive and compete on the global stage.”

Through its partnership with Startup Space, the MEBI can serve any type of business, from individual microbusinesses to Main Street businesses to high-growth startups. The platform is primarily focused on the process of starting and building a new business and includes a feature to walk an entrepreneur through the critical first steps.

The MEBI, which first launched in 2019, has seen continued expansion during the pandemic due to the increase demand by local businesses and through with the help of numerous partners, including the State of Illinois.

MEBI received a $100,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity in 2021 to support the ongoing development of small-business services in the area. MEBI will leverage state funds to develop education, mentorship, networking, and support services programming for small businesses in the St. Clair County area.

“Under Governor Pritzker’s leadership, Illinois is providing investments in small businesses that will assist them in making a strong recovery from the pandemic, and also propel new business concepts and innovation across our state,” said Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Acting Director Sylvia Garcia. “The MEBI Hub in Metro East is a great example of how local leaders and small business advocates are joining the state in providing new and existing small business the support they need to successfully run a business during a pandemic, and to emerge stronger on the other side.”

The MEBI Hub and business incubator in Metro East builds on continued investments made by the Pritzker administration during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond to support mall business growth in Illinois. This includes targeted investments made to expand small business resources offered by the community based Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program, with 42 locations statewide offering free technical support to businesses in every region in Illinois. Most recently, the State has launched small busines recovery assistance grants through the $250 million Back to Business (B2B) grant program, which is now accepting applications.

For more on how to apply for economic assistance or to find help through a navigator or SBDC near you, visit DCEO’s website.

“The past two years have been challenging for most businesses and especially for small businesses,” said Mark Kupsky, mayor of Fairview Heights. “In response, our city has partnered with the neighboring city of O’Fallon and village of Swansea to support the creation and development of the area’s first business incubator.”

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs take massive risks and face a lot of challenges—but the payoff for our communities cannot be overstated,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville. “I am proud that with support from the State of Illinois, MEBI will be able to provide access to business development resources for entrepreneurs looking to get off the ground and create jobs. This is what economic recovery looks like.”

“What the State of Illinois is doing for MEBI is truly an investment in our future,” said Sen. Chris Belt, D-Cahokia Heights. “Every entrepreneur faces incredible challenges, and that’s especially true for Black business owners. Providing MEBI with resources means more successful businesses, more jobs, and more wealth in underserved communities. Win-Win-Win.”

Any entrepreneur in the area will be able to access the MEBI Hub through the incubator’s website (http://www.themebi.org), through the Startup Space online portal or by downloading the mobile app from any app store (http://startupspace.app). Any organization interested in supporting the platform or listing resources for local entrepreneurs is encouraged to get involved by contacting Amy Determann via email at amy@al-management.com.

About the Metro East Business Incubator

A consortium of organizations and agencies across St. Clair County has been formed to establish a business incubator to provide an environment that fosters business development and sustainability through education, mentorship, networking and support services. The resulting program, known as the Metro East Business Incubator, will facilitate economic growth and revenue potential through the generation of income, creation of jobs and ensuring opportunities are inclusive of disadvantaged groups and individuals.

About Startup Space

Startup Space is a digital platform for communities to map, connect, empower, and grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports small business development while providing decision-making data and a one-stop management system. For more information, visit https://www.startupspace.us.

To join the MEBI Hub on Startup Space

To log into the MEBI Hub on Startup Space, visit http://startupspace.app to create a free account, or download the app free from the app store. Log in for immediate access to entrepreneurship resources, the business knowledge center, a community calendar, and to join the conversation.

 

 

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