Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation seeks applications for entrepreneur business competition – Albert Lea Tribune

Entrepreneurs ages 18 to 25 invited to apply

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is seeking applications for new business ideas from entrepreneurs who are 18 to 25 years old. The Aspiring Entrepreneurs Business Competition will support the growth of three new businesses in southern Minnesota. A prize pool of $15,000 will be divided among the three finalists.

Entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a business in SMIF’s 20-county region are invited to submit their plans for their business startup by Feb. 28. Three finalists will have access to business training for their pitch session, free consulting hours and a chance to win investment funding for their business. Finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of business leaders and investors in Owatonna on March 31.

The competition began in 2015 as an opportunity for college students in southern Minnesota to pitch their business plans during SMIF’s annual Entrepreneurial Bridge event. This is the first year this competition, which is now a standalone event, will be open to anyone ages 18 to 25 who has a business idea.

“Over the years it has become clear that many entrepreneurs don’t necessarily follow the traditional path of a four-year college degree,” said Pam Bishop, SMIF’s vice president of economic development. “Our goal is to expand this opportunity for business support to anyone in our region within that younger age bracket, student or not.”

“At SMIF, we want to be sure that the next generation of entrepreneurs has the chance to take their ideas and turn them into reality,” said Tim Penny, president and CEO of SMIF. “Our hope is that if they start a business in southern Minnesota, they will put down roots and stay here, contributing to the economic vitality of our region.”

SMIF has played a strong role in growing local businesses by supporting entrepreneurship since 1986. In addition to the Aspiring Entrepreneurs Business Competition, SMIF provides early-stage investments, traditional loans, microloans, technical assistance, peer networks and business trainings to achieve the vision of creating economic prosperity and community vitality in southern Minnesota.

To submit your business plan for the Aspiring Entrepreneurs Business Competition, visit and fill out the application by February 28.

Contact Maddy Fisher, economic development specialist, at [email protected] or 507-214-7029 with questions.

Maria Flores

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