Area entrepreneurs can vie for funds in business plan contest | SIU

Here’s your chance to submit a business plan for the chance to win cash prizes in the Regions Bank 2021 Business Plan Competition.

Southern Illinois entrepreneurs can compete for innovation and small business development funding as part of the Regions Bank 2021 Business Plan Competition. The bank is awarding a top prize of $5,000 along with second and third prizes of $3,000 and $2,000 respectively through the SIU Foundation. The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will provide technical support and business assistance and the deadline to submit entries is Friday, Nov. 12.

“Despite the challenges of this past year with the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a tremendous increase in interest from Southern Illinois entrepreneurs emerging with new, innovative business concepts or business expansion ideas,” said Deborah Barnett, SIU director of business incubator programs. “The business plan competition support from Regions Bank through the SIU Foundation is very timely and will serve as a spark to continue the entrepreneurial momentum that we’ve seen building in the region.”

Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center

The Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center is located within the Southern Illinois Research Park at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Showcase will feature announcement

The winners will be announced during SIU Research Park’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase on Dec. 2 at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 1740 Innovation Drive in Carbondale. 

“The announcement of the business plan competition winners will be the highlight of the showcase,” said Lynn Andersen Lindberg, executive director of the SIU Research Park. “The opportunity to help jump-start several emerging or expanding small businesses in partnership with Regions Bank is a great way to celebrate the innovation that’s been taking place throughout Southern Illinois during the COVID pandemic.”

Open to new or expanding business concepts

The competition is open people with business ideas in Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, Randolph or Williamson Counties. Contestants can’t be affiliated with government entities, non-profit organizations, public or private schools, or universities andcolleges. Participants must register and then submit a full business plan and 90-second pitch video by Nov. 12. There are a few simple criteria for the business plans. To enter the plans must be:

  • A start-up or existing for-profit small business featuring innovative ideas, products or services with an identified market need and potential for commercialization. Pre-venture entrepreneurs can enter, too.
  • Focusing on new ideas or expansion opportunities, not current business operations.
  • Not involved with cannabis, gambling or lobbying activities nor any activities which are prohibited by state or federal law.

For more information about the business plan competition, along with registration, visit

The competition is sponsored by Regions Bank in partnership with the Southern Illinois University Foundation, the Illinois Small Business Development Center, the SIU Research Park and the SIU Business Incubator.

“A solid business plan is critical for any business that wants to be successful. This competition is a great opportunity for Southern Illinois entrepreneurs to put a solid business plan in place, develop a strong pitch, and compete for funding,” said Greg Bouhl, SIU director of entrepreneurship and business development. “The Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIU serves as a strong partner in the competition as we provide no-cost business advisement, including business plan assistance, to competition participants and any small business who needs assistance.”

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