August 28, 2023

Entrepreneurs invited to Southern Illinois 2023 Business Plan Competition at SIU

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — If you’re ever considered entrepreneurship, here’s your chance to bring your business idea to life. Southern Illinoisans can win cash prizes and valuable development services to help make their business ideas a reality in the Southern Illinois 2023 Business Plan Competition, thanks to Regions Bank and Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“I believe that the Business Plan Competition offers local entrepreneurs a remarkable platform to shine,” said Melissa Ray Roach, director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIU. “It not only celebrates innovation and creativity with real prize money, but it also provides a supportive environment to learn, grow and connect. This competition is more than just a chance to win; it’s an opportunity to refine ideas, receive valuable feedback and build a strong foundation for success. We’re here to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship and drive positive change in our region.”

New or expanding business concepts welcome

Any entrepreneur with a new business concept or pre-venture plan is welcome to enter, as are start-up or existing for-profit small businesses focused on innovative ideas, products or services. The deadline to sign up is 11:59 p.m. Sept. 10.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center and Business Incubator Programs at SIU will provide business plan assistance to competitors.

Contestants should be located in one or more of these Southern Illinois counties: Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, Union, White and Williamson.

Showcase will feature announcement

The winners will be announced during the SIU Research Park’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase, set for 4:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 1740 Innovation Drive in Carbondale. Judges from diverse backgrounds will choose the winners based on written business plans, financials, pitches, target market identification and impact, market need, commercialization potential, business model, innovation and creativity, and presentation.

“The announcement of the business plan competition winners will be the highlight of the showcase,” said Lynn Andersen Lindberg, executive director of the Office of Innovation and Economic Development and the SIU Research Park. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to work with Regions Bank to jump-start several emerging or expanding small businesses and celebrate the innovation that is taking place throughout Southern Illinois.” 

Who’s eligible

Individuals and teams may enter. Competitors must attend three workshops in coming weeks, submit a comprehensive business plan and deliver a compelling 90-second pitch of their concept to win a share of $20,000 in prize money and in-kind services. Local competitions will be held the week of Oct. 13 in Marion, Mt. Vernon, Red Bud and Carbondale and the regional final competition will take place at Dunn-Richmond in Carbondale the week of Nov. 13.

Contestants must also adhere to a few other requirements:

  • They can’t be affiliated with government entities, nonprofit organizations, public or private schools, or universities and colleges.
  • No one can be involved with cannabis, gambling or lobbying activities nor any activities which are prohibited by state or federal law.
  • All contestants must register to become a client of the Illinois SBDC. This is free of charge.

Find all of the details about the business plan competition and register online.

The SIU Research Park, in partnership with Regions Bank and SI Now, is hosting the competition. Other sponsors include the Illinois SBDC at SIU, SIU Carbondale, First Southern Bank, Saline County Industrial Development Co, Legence Bank, Randolph County Economic Development, Jefferson County Development Corp., Southern Illinois University Foundation, EThOs Small Business Incubator & Coworking Spaces in Marion, Arthur Agency, Clearwave Fiber and Legal Advocacy Headquarters.