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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the first rounds of the 2017 InnovateHER Challenge began across the country. Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. was pleased to sponsor the local competitionat Southern Illinois University Edwardsville earlier this month. By providing free legal services to the winner’s business, MMR hopes to ultimately assist in helping business owners everywhere.

Many times there are great products and services already in existence; they just need a boost to become even more successful which is what InnovateHER strives to do. The competitors’ businesses were judged on their impact on the lives of women and families, commercialization potential and whether or not the service or product is needed in the marketplace. A shareholder at MMR, Patrick Mathis explains, “As economic demands on these individuals and their families grow, products and services that respond to their unique challenges increase. This is why MMR is a proud supporter of InnovateHER.”

First place winner Lorie Nelson of Bethalto successfully met all of the criteria and swept the judges away. Her business Signature Virtual Assistance will receive in-kind legal services from attorneys at MMR, located in both Belleville and Edwardsville, Illinois. Her prize also consisted of a check for $1,500 from Scott Credit Union, the SIUE School of Business and Louer Facility Planning, Inc., and with this Nelson will be able to expand her business.

InnovateHER 2017

Nelson began Signature Virtual Assistance in August of 2012 and praises the Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center for helping her develop the business. She aims to help businesses by allowing them to outsource tasks like bookkeeping, calendars and email management. By winning her local division, Nelson has already been nominated as semifinalist and will compete in September for a spot in the top 10. The top three in this round will receive $70,000 from the Sara Blake Foundation.

In addition to InnovateHER, MMR gladly supports many other local organizations that are dedicated to enriching the lives of community members such as the Belleville, Highland and Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chambers of Commerce and Illinois YMCA Youth & Government. The firm has always made it a point to give back to the community in which it serves. MMR attorneys and staff are looking forward to future sponsorships of the InnovateHER Challenge and wish Nelson and the other competitors the best in their business endeavors.

About Mathis, Marifian & Richter

Established in 1984, Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. has emerged as one of the most trusted and respected law firms in the southern Illinois and St. Louis areas. The firm has offices in Belleville, Edwardsville and Nashville, Illinois, as well as Clayton, Missouri. MMR’s shareholders and associates possess knowledge and experience in practice areas that include business law, taxation, estate planning, employee benefits, banking law, bankruptcy, and commercial and tort litigation. For more information, please visit