(DAVISON, Mich. – January 23, 2017)  Today, seven businesses vied in the “Catapult Your Craft Food & Beverage Business Competition,” with Elk Street Brewery in Sanilac County taking home top honors and the $5,000 grand prize.

The final round of the business competition was held today as part of the 5th Annual Regional Summit, hosted by the I-69 Thumb Region at the Davison Country Club. Cash prizes of $3,000 and $1,000, respectively, were awarded to second-place winner Harsens Island Brewery (St. Clair County) and third-place finisher The Tap Room at Bird Creek Farms (Huron County).

“This competition has given us great exposure and pride because we’re representing a geographic area,” said Anne Hasenbusch, who owns Elk Street Brewery with her husband, Ron. “The prize money will allow us to almost double the size of our tap room from 1,800 square feet to 3,400 square feet.

“It will also allow us to do a larger distribution of our beer as well as expand our menu.”

Each of the seven businesses that competed advanced to the finals after winning the county-level contests. The I-69 Thumb Region includes Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron and Tuscola counties.

The other contestants were: Town to Town Gourmet Pastries (Shiawassee); Olympus Fare Salsa (Genesee); The Mulefoot Gastropub (Lapeer); and Fostoria Bread Factory (Tuscola).

The business competition was created to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners with starting or growing their craft food or beverage businesses.  In doing so, the competition will help retain and cultivate Michigan businesses by:

  • Providing capital to expand production and increase jobs;
  • Growing activity that adds value to Michigan’s agricultural commodities; and
  • Expanding economic activity in communities throughout the region.

“The I-69 Thumb Region established the competition to support and encourage more businesses in the region to leverage Michigan’s strengths in agriculture,” said Janice Karcher, Vice President of Economic Development for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “The prize money is meant to help craft food and beverage businesses scale up, and serve customers beyond the immediate area.”

Judges for the final round were: Terry Cross, Founder/CEO Winward Associates; Robert Funk, Senior Vice President/Chief Lending Officer, Lakestone Bank; and Jeannine Schweihofer, Meat Quality Extension Educator, MSU Extension.

The half-day regional summit was also used to recap major projects and successes of 2016, and feature expert panels on talent and real estate development opportunities in the seven-county region.

The I-69 Thumb Region is a partnership of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership, Flint & Genesee Chamber, Lapeer Development Corporation, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, Sanilac & Huron County Economic Development Corporation and Tuscola County Economic Development Corporation.