Three winners will be selected to receive incentive packages valued at $25,000.
"This is an effort to bring in these new niche business that can actually make it in a 21st century economy in a small community like Monmouth," said Director of Community Development Paul Schuytema.
The prizes include six months of free rent at a downtown commercial building along with money for advertising, website development and logo design.
“We really want to give the business the tools they need to hopefully tip them from being 'I want to start this business' to 'I can start this business,'" Schuytema said. "'I have the knowledge to start this business' and now 'I have resources enough to take that risk'.”
The city is working with Venture Advisors out of St. Louis to organize the competition designed to revitalize downtown.
"We're reaching out to the surrounding communities in the region to see if there are people over there who are interested in either expanding an existing business they have or like the people we've got here locally want to start a business and maybe this is fertile ground to plant that first seed."
The city plans to offer workshops this summer to help participants develop their business plan. The competition ends in July with the entrepreneurs pitching their idea to a panel of judges.
An informational event is scheduled for June 11 at Monmouth City Hall.