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Turlock entrepreneur named finalist in business challenge
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Turlocker Stephen Rodenburg will be one of 18 finalists competing for more than $24,000 in cash and business services in the 2013 San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge on Feb. 27.

Rodenburg and his portable baseball batting training aid will be up against entrepreneurs from San Joaquin, Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties in front of a panel of judges and audience members in an "American Idol" style business plan competition.

“I'm excited and humbled to have been chosen to participate in this year’s San Joaquin Challenge,” said Rodenburg. “I hope to see my tee getting used in community youth baseball programs everywhere.”

The 18 finalists in the challenge are proposing a broad range of business ideas including electronic devices, sports products, social networking, alternative energy applications, media products and services, health care products, food products and various other consumer goods. Contestants for the $10,000 in cash and $14,000 in business services will have two minutes each to present their business ideas, in what is known as an “elevator pitch,” to a panel of judges and a voting audience in the first round of the competition. Eight winners will be selected from these 18 finalists to proceed to the second and possibly third rounds of competition to be held on March 20.

“These aspiring entrepreneurs have now taken the first steps to starting their own business in our region, and we hope the competition will encourage them to continue to pursue their vision. Many of the 200 past participants in the Challenge have started and/or grown their businesses. One particularly successful 2010 participant recently sold his software business to computer maker Dell,” said Mark Plovnick, San Joaquin Angel president and University of the Pacific director of economic development.

The San Joaquin Entrepreneur Challenge is part of a regional economic development strategy. The Challenge is being implemented through a partnership of the San Joaquin Angels, University of the Pacific, San Joaquin Partnership, Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, Merced County Department of Commerce, Aviation and Economic Development, the Business Council, Inc., NEC Small Business Development Center- San Joaquin Delta College, and the Alliance Small Business Development Center.

The Feb. 27 event will be held from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Stockton Golf & Country Club, 3800 West Country Club Blvd., Stockton. Members of the public are invited to attend. Tickets are $15 prepaid or $20 at the door. Food and beverages will be served. For more information or to register to attend the Feb. 27 event — or the March 20 round two and three events —  go to: