The finals of the "Catapult Your Craft Food & Beverage Business Competition" will headline the 5th Annual Regional Summit, hosted by the I-69 Thumb Region.

The half-day Summit – which takes place from noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Davison Country Club – will also recap major projects and successes, and feature expert panels on talent and real estate development opportunities in the region.

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

“The I-69 Thumb Region partners are working collaboratively to foster growth and prosperity,” said Janice Karcher, Vice President of Economic Development for the Flint & Genesee Chamber. “Each of the panel discussions focused on areas of opportunity that will continue to impact us as a region.

“This year, we’re extremely excited to use the summit to showcase the region’s strength in agribusiness by hosting the final round of the Catapult Your Craft Food & Beverage Business Contest.”

The first-place winners of the seven county-level competitions, held last November, will make their final presentations to a panel of judges at the regional summit. The top prize is $5,000, with $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third.

The finalists by county are: Town to Town Gourmet Pastries (Shiawassee); Olympus Fare Salsa (Genesee); The Mulefoot Gastropub (Lapeer); Harsens Island Brewery (St. Clair); The Tap Room at Bird Creek Farms (Huron); Fostoria Bread Factory, LLC (Tuscola); and The Elk Street Brewery (Sanilac).

The aim of the competition is to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners to start or grow their craft food or beverage businesses with the overall goal of expanding production, increasing jobs and spurring economic activity in the I-69 Thumb Region’s agricultural and food-based sectors.

Meanwhile, the real estate discussion – focused on “Regional Development Trends & Opportunities” – will be moderated by Dan Casey, CEO of the St. Clair County Economic Development Alliance. Panelists are:

  • Ken Dehn, Senior Project Manager, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
  • Stever Opper, Partner/Sr. Business Development Manager, Wieland-Davco Corp.
  • Mike Sabrosky, Business Development, Oliver Hatcher Construction Co.

That will be followed by a discussion on talent initiatives – titled “Helping Companies Recruit Talent” – moderated by Jody Kerbyson, CEO of GST Michigan Works!, with panelists:

  • Bob Waun, CEO, C3 Ventures
  • Denise Wright, HR Manager, Mapal
  • Kristine Frost, HR Director, Kamax, L.P.
  • Tadd Morris, Owner, 2nd Chance Wood

Those who would benefit from attending the Summit include regional businesses, educators, government officials and community stakeholders.

There is no cost to attend the Summit, however registration is required.  Those who would benefit from attending the Summit include regional businesses, educators, government officials and community stakeholders.

To register, visit For more information, contact Julie Hipps at or (810) 600-1429.