Providing resources for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix & Cheboygan Counties.

NLEA Awards Four Businesses $18,000 in Startup Capital at Grand Event


Northern Lakes Economic Alliance •  •

$80,000 in startup capital awarded, 1,500 attended, and 36 business pitches competed as a result of Five Northern Michigan Pitch Night competitions

After pitch presentations Grand Event contestants gather together on stage one last time before judges deliberate who the winners will be.

Bay Harbor (MI), Nov. 27, 2018 – Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) awarded $18,000 in startup capital to four well-deserving entrepreneurs at the Grand Event Business Model Competition held at Great Lakes Center for the Arts in Bay Harbor, MI. Grand Event winners, contestants and 350 member audience spanned the entire NLEA four-county service area (Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet) and beyond.

The regional Grand Event competition pulled the winning contestants from four local county pitch night events in the NLEA service area to compete for additional funds for their business ventures. 11 entrepreneurs took to the grand stage at Great Lakes Center for the Arts to wow the panel of judges with their four-minute business pitch.

Grand Event winners pose with awarded checks, judges, and sponsors.

Stormy Kromer by Simply Marcella (Cheboygan, MI), owned by Marcella and John Costin, took the grand prize of $10,000 to bring the first exclusive Stormy Kromer storefront to Cheboygan, MI projected to open late spring of 2019. Iconic Stormy Kromer brand caps, clothing and accessories will be available, and guests will have access to adjacent Costin operations, Simply Marcella boutique and Queen’s Head Wine Pub through the outlet. The Costins also plan to partner with Cheboygan Brewing Company to offer beer for purchase within the Stormy Kromer store, as well as an exclusive beer made specifically for the store.

The second place prize of $5,000 was awarded to Kurtis Damerow of Emmet Drones (Petoskey, MI), offering services such as aerial photography, mapping and three-dimensional modeling through drone technology.

Socks Kick (East Jordan, MI), owned by Baris Atmaca took third place award of $2,500 to establish his sock brand in the U.S. The Atmaca family manufactures socks in Turkey, and hopes to bring production to East Jordan eventually.

Cheboygan’s first bakery, Ellie’s Place, won the People’s Choice award of $500. Owner Brenna St. Clair along with her grandmother, June Brandau, specialize in handmade baked goods of all kinds from recipes passed down through generations by Brandau.

Each contestant put their best foot forward through the help of esteemed, professional business coaches from SCORE and SBDC, who worked with each contestant on perfecting their business models and presentations.

“Great Lakes Center for the Arts was incredible to work with as a venue. It was gratifying to award and celebrate community entrepreneurship in such a beautiful facility. We look forward to working closely with these 36 businesses from our pitch nights as they launch and grow in their communities,” said Hannah Sanderson, NLEA Business Attraction & Growth and coordinator of Northern Michigan Pitch Nights.

The Grand Event was made possible through the generous support of the following sponsors: Consumers Energy, DTE Energy Foundation, ITC Holdings, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, and Great Lakes Center for the Arts.

Click Here to view photos of 2018 Grand Event

Core Partners

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