(Flint, Mich. – Sept. 14, 2016) The I-69 Thumb Region today launched the Catapult Your Craft Food & Beverage Business Contest, with cash prizes for local and regional winners totaling $30,000.

The Catapult Your Craft Food & Beverage Business Contest aims 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 in several ways:

  • 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.

“This is an opportunity to support and encourage more businesses in the region to leverage Michigan’s strengths in agriculture,” said Janice Karcher, Vice President of Economic Development at the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “The contest aims to help craft food and beverage businesses scale up, and serve customers beyond the immediate area.”

The I-69 Thumb Region includes Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair and Tuscola counties. Each of the seven participating economic development organizations will hold a county-level competition, with a $2,000 prize for first place and $1,000 for second place.

The first-place winners for each county will move on to a regional contest, with a chance to win the top prize of $5,000. Cash prizes of $3,000 and $1,000, respectively, will be awarded for second and third place in the regional finals.

To qualify for the competition, companies and entrepreneurs must complete an online application, which includes questions about their existing business or new business idea. The application is available on the regional website at www.i-69thumbregion.org. Entries are accepted until Oct. 17.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Flint Food Works and the Flint & Genesee Chamber will provide technical support, such as assistance with registration or presentation coaching, support to prospective applicants.

Once the application process is started, competitors will have until Oct. 17 to upload their executive summary (maximum three pages). Competitors may also upload presentations (up to 10 slides), video pitches or other relevant information.

Judges will review the submissions and select up to eight contestants for participation in the pitch event.

The Genesee County pitch competition will be held Nov. 2, from 5:30-8 p.m., at the Flint Farmers’ Market. Click here to register. The regional competition will take place in January. For more information, please visit: www.i-69thumbregion.org.

Competition prizes have been made possible through a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and other sponsors. The Flint Food Works is providing free time in their commercial kitchen to the Genesee County winners. Additional assistance and marketing partners include the I-69 Trade Corridor, SBDC, Skypoint Ventures, the Flint Area Reinvestment Office and Metro Community Development.

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