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Metro East incubator chooses veteran business advocate as executive director

The Metro East Business Incubator has named regional business leader Kevin Riggs as executive director for the three-year-old agency.

A resident of O’Fallon, Ill., Riggs has broad experience working with both the public and private sectors through past employment with the Dentons Law Firm, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, East West Gateway Council of Governments, the Illinois State General Assembly, and the U.S. Census Bureau. Riggs began work April 25, succeeding Amy Determann, the MEBI’s first paid contractor.

“We’re excited to have Kevin leading the charge to help the MEBI expand services and grow its client base so that Metro East entrepreneurs can grow their enterprises where they’ve started,” said Michael Holmes, executive vice president for Workforce and Economic 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, “encore” entrepreneurs, veterans and women.

Riggs serves as a board member for the Leadership Council of Southwestern Illinois. and continues to lead grass-roots advocacy efforts of the Illinois Public Affairs Committee (IPAC), a coalition of business leaders and organizations. He holds a Bachelor in Political Science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a Masters of Public Administration from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Under Riggs’ direction, the MEBI will continue to provide a free virtual hub that will link local small-business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs from across the Metro East with resources specifically curated to support their success. The MEBI Hub on Startup Space serves as a one-stop-shop virtual location for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to find vetted local business resources, discussion boards, training and education, grant and technical assistance programs, curated community events, and more.

Local entrepreneurs can access the MEBI via its 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 Kevin Riggs via email: executive@themebi.org.

The MEBI’s most recent initiative is to commission a comprehensive Feasibility Study under the direction of the U.S. Economic Development Administration that will show the need and feasibility for an incubator, align goals of the Metro East sub-region’s innovation centers, and provide guidelines for future operations of the agency in accordance with the determined need and goals.

About the Metro East Business Incubator (MEBI)

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.

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