3 years ago I presented at the Mason Entrepreneurship Research Conference (MERC). My topic was Business Plan Competitions as Social Capital Building Tools. In that paper I made mention that policy and ‘economic development’ oriented business plan competitions were beginning to appear more frequently on the landscape.
Now you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a local ec dev biz plan competition. See OK Governor’s plan, the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s annual competition up in VT, and a big new DC Business Plan Competition with $100,000 in prizes (its official name is the BusinessPremier something or other, I may write more on the competition when I find out more about it).
So if you are an entrepreneur, take a look around your city/county/metro/state to see if there are any competitions to enter. You may meet some interesting people, get some good advice/insights and maybe even find some funding. If the federal largess continues and recession deepens in certain places (namely Michigan and some overbuilt areas), look for more business plan competitions to be offered.