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Quad Cities Fast Pitch Contest Promotes Innovation and Economic Development

Friday, June 13, 2014

Article by University of Illinois Extension

On April 5, local entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs participated in the first annual Quad Cities Fast Pitch Entrepreneurial Contest. Forty-three entrepreneurs submitted applications to participate in the Quad Cities event, with 20 advancing to the semi-final rounds in four categories: manufacturing/industry, web/technology, restaurant/entertainment, and retail/service. The winners from each semi-finalist category were then selected to compete in the finals in front of a live audience, and Tess Harris of Rock Island won the grand prize with her proposal for unique bridal shoe designs. University of Illinois Extension helped organize the Quad Cities Fast Pitch contest as a means of promoting small business development in local communities and raising awareness of the resources that exist for entrepreneurs in the area.

The Quad Cities Fast Pitch contest was modeled after the Henry and Stark counties Fast Pitch Competition, which after three successful years has resulted in six new business start-ups, three business loans obtained, one grant received for market and patent research, and 13 new jobs created. The fast pitch competition model was developed in collaboration between University of Illinois Extension's CED Educator and the Small Business Development Center at Black Hawk College.

Collaborators hope to extend the success of the Henry and Stark County Fast Pitch competition to the Quad Cities Fast Pitch by working with economic development practitioners to create a unique opportunity for local entrepreneurs to share their ideas for business start-ups or expansions.

The Quad Cities Fast Pitch competition was a community-wide collaborative effort between the economic development departments of Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island and Moline, and partners that include the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce's Ignite Quad-Cities, the Iowa and Illinois Small Business Development Centers, University of Illinois and Iowa State University Extension Services, Augustana College and WQAD-TV.

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