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What is Fast Pitch? the essence of fast pitch is putting your mouth where the money is...


Budding and Seasoned ENTREPRENEURS residing in Henry & Stark County are invited to pitch their Business Concepts and Product Ideas to a group of judges from the business, investment, and entertainment community. PRIZES will be awarded in the existing business expansion category and the manufacturing/retail business start-up category. Remember, the decisions of the Fast Pitch Committee are FINAL and that a minimum of five (5) entries (contestants) is needed in the business start-up competition category.

So start polishing your WHAT IFs and your IMAGINE THATs for new apps, widgets, goods and services for a chance at cash prizes and exposure to investors, business leaders, the media and experienced mentors.

Register for the competition here!

What are the judges looking for? The answer to six key questions...

  1. So what is your business all about? In other words, what problem are you trying to solve or what is the need you are trying to fulfill?
  2. Who will your customers be? Who are you selling to and how large is your market? What is your market's demographics profile?
  3. How will you make money? In other words, how do you intend to get your product or service to your customers; what will they be willing to pay for your product or service?
  4. Who will you be competing against? Is there an 800-pound gorilla out there ready to take you down?
  5. How do you expect to stay in business? In other words, what is your competitive advantage; how are you unique; can you innovate faster than the Gorilla; do you currently have a patent; a patent pending; need one?
  6. Who is on your team and what are their backgrounds? Explain why you and your team have the experience to succeed.
  7. View a twenty minute video pod cast explaining the Fast Pitch

Any presentation tips?

  1. Grab the judge's attention early. Hook them, then reel them in. This is your Elevator Speech.
  2. Whenever possible, weave your business idea into a story, YOUR Story.
  3. Keep their attention by being passionate about your idea, product or service. After all, you are going to make your customers better off.
  4. Keep the goal in mind. What is it that you need to bring your idea to market? Money? Marketing? Mentoring? Production? A combination?
  5. Be succinct, concise and clear - You only have TEN MINUTES to convince the judges to pick YOU!
  6. Do not overwhelm the judges with technological jargon.
  7. Stick with the highlights - speed talking is bad form.
  8. Practice, then revise, then do it again. Take advantage of the live practice session.
  9. Remember this outline: Elevator Speech (one minute); Exposition (using your gift for gab, an easel, a flip-chart or a sample of your product, explain your business to the judges using the tips above in 4 to 5 minutes); Explanation (this is where you will answer questions from the judges).
  10. Pick up some tips from Joel Youngs' video pod cast.
  11. Take a look at the Judging Criteria (yep, this is what the judge will be filling out!)


Where and WhenIt all takes place in two handy spots and there are several whens...

Be sure to take advantage of the WHENS. Everyone entering the competition will have a chance to attend both preliminary events before the final pitch to the judges. The first is designed to introduce the competitors to the world of Fast-Pitch and how to go about creating your PITCH. The second event is a Practice Round involving tips, suggestions and critiques from experienced judges. The final event is IT; winners will be announced and prizes awarded!

Where? in a city famous for invention...And a city that bills itself as the pathway of opportunity...

Kewanee, Illinois will host an Informational Meeting, a Practice Session and the Contest at the Black Hawk East Community Education Center (which happens to house the Kewanee Economic Development Corporation) located across from Kewanee City Hall at:

404 E. Third St.
Kewanee, IL 61443

Click Here For Directions to the Community Education Center in Kewanee, IL

Colona, Illinois will host an Informational Meeting and a Practice Session at Werner Restoration, a Fast Pitch Sponsor who has generously loaned the committee space in their building which is located at:

102 Innovation Way
Colona, IL 61241

Click Here For Directions to Werner Restoration in Colona, IL


When?-it happens sooner than you think, so be ready...

  • Registrations due:

Contest Applications must be postmarked no later than 4 April, 2014

  • Find-out Meeting. What is Fast-Pitch and how do I create one for a Fast-Pitch competition (If you do not attend this event, you will be at a significant disadvantage):

11 February, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. in Colona

20 February, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. in Kewanee

Register for the Informational Meeting Here or Call:

Judith Gilbert in Colona at (309) 792 - 0571

Russell Medley in Kewanee at (309) 853 - 5000

  • Mock Fast-Pitch (practice & critique)

11 March, 2014 in Colona

20 March, 2014 in Kewanee

  • Henry/Stark Fast-Pitch Competition:

24 April, 2014 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Kewanee

Register for the competition here or register at one of the Informational Meetings



Prizes now for the good stuff...

Prizes awarded at the finals are available ONLY due to the generosity of our SPONSORS and the decisions made by our judges are at their sole discretion and all decisions of the committee will be final.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center (IL SBDC) was established in March 1985 to help entrepreneurs start a new business or expand an existing business.


Existing Business Expansion - This category is for those whose venture has already been in operation for 3 or more years. Share your idea on how to expand your current business. 

Prize Package: The winner will receive $5,000 cash ($2,500 at Awards event/$2,500 after consultation services are completed) 10 hours of professional business consultation services ($1,000 value) and in-kind radio advertising from Regional Media!

Runner-up get $500 Cash and a free waiver to Black Hawk College’s Small Business Development Center ($400 value). 


Start Up Business* - For those with a plan to start a new retail/sales business or a new non-retail business or a product in areas like Agriculture, Manufacturing, or Technology.

Prize Packages: In this category the 1st place winner will receive $2,500 cash, ($1,250 at Awards event/$1,250 after consultation services are completed) 10 hours of professional business consultation services and in-kind radio advertising from Regional Media!

Runner-up will get $500 Cash and a waiver to attend Black Hawk College’s Small Business Development Center ($400 value). 

Our Sponsors making it all possible...Please click on the logos below to visit our sponsors on the Web.


Bank Orion Logo


B & B Printing Icon


Blackhawk Bank And Trust Logo


Breedloves Logo


Bruner, Cooper & Zuck Icon


Black Hawk College


City of Colona Logo


City of Galva Logo


Henry County Economic Development Partnership Logo


henry stark logo



Kewanee logo


Kewanee Economic Development Corporation Logo


prairie shopper logo

Port Byron Bnak Logo


Regional Media Logo


Small Business Development Center Logo


stark county news logo


stark county logo


state bank of speer logo


state bank of toulon logo


University of Illinois Extension

Werner Restoration Logo


Henry/Stark Economic Development Professionals is the brainchild of Russell Medley, the Executive Director of the Kewanee Economic Development Corporation. As conceived by Russell, the "Pros" is a loose knit organization comprised of economic development professionals with a simple vision and plain mission. To wit: to promote the expansion of economic opportunity in Henry County and Stark County (the Vision) by creating jobs in the private sector (the Mission).

"Pros" understands that two essential ingredients are needed to create jobs (as opposed to fabricating them as government tends to do): entrepreneurship and capital. To that end, Fast-Pitch is designed to bring those two things together (i.e., entrepreneurs with physical and intellectual capital) in order to increase the standard of living in Henry and Stark Counties.

To learn more about our pros, follow these links to view their profiles:

Contributors helping to cause or bring about...

David L. Dyer

Judith Gilbert

Kathleen Repass

Russell Medley

Dennis Rewerts


Advisorsspecialists providing guidance and recommendations...

Jenny Garner

Don Henry

Joel Youngs



In a short, twenty minute Video Pod cast, Joel Youngs explains FAST PITCH:


To register on line for the Informational Meeting: University of Illinois Extension/Registration (this is different from registering for the competition)

To receive a registration packet by snail mail: call (309) 756 - 9978

To download a Fast Pitch application that you can fill out and mail in

To fill out the competition's application on line (this is different from registering for the find-out informational meeting

View the Judge's Sheet!