Skip to content

Semifinalists chosen in SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge

Nineteen southwestern Illinois-based entrepreneurs and their innovative business concepts have been selected to move into the second round of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Metro East Start-Up Challenge (MESC).

The annual business plan competition, now in its ninth year, welcomes entrepreneurs and new businesses from a nine-county area of southwestern Illinois and has been expanded to include Fayette and Montgomery counties.

“We’re extremely pleased with the sustained level of interest in our region’s business plan contest,”  said Jo Ann Di Maggio May, director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center for the Metro East and MESC coordinator. “There has been a robust outpouring of enthusiasm about the challenge from applicants, community leaders, and our small business development partners.”

“The SIUE Metro East Start-Up Challenge creates the opportunity to engage with the region in cultivating an important economic development strategy,” added Di Maggio May.  “Although only 19 remain eligible for the $10,000 top cash prize, we encourage everyone who considered or entered the challenge to access the SBDC’s wide menu of resources and expertise.”

The semifinalists are invited to a networking event on Thursday, Sept. 15, where they will be paired with four mentors. The event will be hosted at the Gateway Center Convention Center in Collinsville.

Round two of the Challenge will require the 19 semifinalists to create a condensed business plan, develop financial projections, and clearly define reasons why their business concept will be successful. The IL SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE will offer guidance and support to semifinalists in the form of workshops throughout September.

Competitors have until Sunday, Oct. 9 to submit their business plans and financial statements. Judges will select eight finalists to pitch their business concept on Wednesday, Oct. 26 to a select panel of judges. Winners will be announced immediately following the pitch presentations.

The first-place award is $10,000, second place is $6,000, and third place is $4,000.  Regions Bank is sponsoring a fourth place prize of $2,000. Winners are also offered an array of in-kind services. This year, the City of O’Fallon and Ameren Energy Efficiency Programs are sponsoring two new categories: Woman, Minority or Veteran Business of the Year, and Rural Business of the Year, respectively.

The competition culminates with the top four winners presenting their ideas to Leadership Council Southwest Illinois on Friday, Nov. 4.

The 2022 Metro East Start-Up Challenge semifinalists include:

  • Electric Kitchen, Belleville
  • Mo’z Sweet Treats, Alton
  • St. Louis DD214 Researchers, Highland
  • Queen Dispatch, Cahokia
  • Charlie Rae, Edwardsville
  • Remember Him, Granite City
  • Godspeed Transportation Solutions, Lebanon
  • Champion Farms, Washington Park
  • Toast and Table, Belleville
  • The Game Yard, Highland
  • Living After Grief, Collinsville
  • Redbox+ of St. Louis Metro East, Swansea
  • The Golden Bone Day Spa, Belleville
  • EDUrain, Edwardsville
  • human2human LLC, Edwardsville
  • Earth Candy, Troy
  • Highland Emporium LLC, Highland
  • M.A.P.S. (Mothers Against Pornography Saving Sons), Fairview Heights
  • JewelRide LLC, Edwardsville

The Illinois SBDC for the Metro East assists start-up ventures, as well as existing businesses headquartered in the nine-county region of Calhoun, Jersey, Madison, Bond, Clinton, St. Clair, Washington, Monroe and Randolph. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and SIUE as a service to Illinois small businesses.

By aiding entrepreneurs and companies in defining their path to success, the SBDC network positively impacts the Metro East by strengthening the business community, creating and retaining new jobs and encouraging new investment. It enhances the region’s economic interests by providing 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 about the SBDC, contact the Illinois SBDC for the Metro East at SIUE at (618) 650-2929.

Leave a Comment