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Metro East Start-Up Challenge
Metro East Start-Up Challenge

Welcome to the 2024 Metro East Start-Up Challenge (MESC) Business Plan Competition (BPC)!

The Challenge is a $28,000 cash prize business plan competition to identify, encourage, and reward excellence in entrepreneurship in the St. Louis Metro East region (now including Fayette, Macoupin, and Montgomery Counties).  For the 11th year, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois and SIUE School of Business are the competition's cornerstone sponsors.  Growth Corp has also been a longstanding supporter. 2024's Networking Event Platinum Sponsor,  BMO Harris Bank,  and Gold Sponsor, Ameren Energy Efficiency Program, are hosting this year's Mentor-Semifinalist Networking Event.  The SIUE School of Business and Illinois Small Business Development Center for the Metro East at SIUE (SBDC) are facilitating the competition.

The purpose of the challenge is to:

  1. Increase the Metro East region’s interest in and excitement for business start-ups through a competitive process;
  2. Identify "growth-oriented" start-ups with plans to operate in the eleven-county St. Louis Metro East region;
  3. Generate a greater awareness of network services/resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners; and
  4. To advance the academic mission of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville by strengthening relationships with private enterprise and expanding opportunities for both students and faculty.

The first place winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize accompanied by an array of in-kind professional services. 
Second, Third, and Fourth Place winners will receive a $6,000 cash prize, $4,000 cash prize, and a $2,000 cash prize, respectively,  along with many in-kind professional services

This year for the MESC's 11th Anniversary, the Woman,Minority or Veteran  prize  will be separated into 3 specific $1,500 prize opportunities. The City of O'Fallon (IL) is sponsoring the Veteran owned Business Prize.  Justine Petersen is the Minority owned Buisness Sponsor and Bank of Springfield is sponsoring the Woman owned Business Prize.

The Rural Business of the Year Prices (also worth $1,500) is again being offered through the generosity of Dieterich Bank.  

To qualify as a Rural business, the entity must be located in and meet the USDA definition of Rural: population of less than 50,000 and the contiguous area around the urban area.  Woman, Minority or Veteran must possess at least 51% ownership in the company

If you are interested in sponsoring and/or providing in-kind services for The Metro East Startup Challenge, please click here to learn more!


For More Information
Contact the Illinois Small Business
Development Center (SBDC)
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