The 20th annual Mid-Michigan Women’s Expo was a celebration of women, entrepreneurs and bringing people together. There were over 300 businesses with products catered to women, including healthy eating. One of the businesses at the event was Vitamix, a company that manufactures blenders for restaurants and every day consumers. Every booth at the event showcased their products, ranging from cakes, hair styling tools and jewelry, but Vitamix promoted something bigger.
“Love hearing stories about how we changed people’s lives, that they’ve gotten healthier, they’ve beat their healthy obstacles etc.,” said Nancy Spruiell, a Vitamix demonstrator. Spruiell said the blender also helps parents get their kids to eat fruits and vegetables.
“Raising healthier kids, that’s a huge thing these days, especially with the way they make our food these days,” Spruiell said.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Traverse City in northwestern Michigan is home to many entrepreneurs. The town has a supportive food scene, excellent tourism, a strong Chamber of Commerce, and many citizens with amazing stories to tell. If you walk through Downtown Traverse City, you may come across Ben Phillips, owner and founder of Ben’s Boards, a company that rents paddle boards on Grand Traverse Bay. Scroll through social media and it’s likely you’ll see Sean Murray, founder of Green Light Podcast.
By DANIELLE WOODWARD
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan food entrepreneurs could take an idea to a frozen meal on the shelves of your grocery store using a proposed mock production line in Okemos. Companies across the state could test any food product from start to finish at the line managed by the Michigan State University Product Center, an organization that aims to help entrepreneurs develop successful food and farm products. Proponents hope to generate an additional $300 million to $400 million in sales and 1,000 jobs annually if the center proposed near Lansing reaches around 20 clients per year. “Essentially, companies would be able to experiment with new processes and products by setting up an entire food processing line running from input all the way to the packaged good,” said Chris Peterson, director of the MSU product center. “They would be able to sell the finished product into test markets to see if it is successful.”
MSU officials have completed a feasibility study and business plan for the $5.25 million facility, Peterson said.
By LACEE SHEPARD
Capital News Service
LANSING – Despite what appears to be a crumbling job market in Detroit and the city’s recent declaration of bankruptcy, local colleges are growing stronger entrepreneurial programs.
Detroit and surrounding areas are becoming home to more start-up businesses, especially on campuses. “The place it’s most obvious is on college campuses,” said Rob Fowler, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan. In a survey of 15 public universities, SBAM found there were more courses geared toward entrepreneurship than originally thought. According to Fowler, the unexpected information found in the survey was the amount of extracurricular student activity. “The big surprise was the student-led entrepreneur clubs or entrepreneurial gatherings, and even to the point of student companies and organizations of student-run companies,” Fowler said, “a lot more of that activity than any of us thought.”
Wayne State University has a strong entrepreneurial program that is made stronger by student organizations like Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
By YANJIE WANG
Capital News Service
LANSING — When Bhushan Kulkarni, an Indian citizen who finished his master’s degree in West Virginia, came to Ann Arbor for a summer internship in 1988, he fell in love with the community. It became his second hometown as he started his own business there after the internship and now owns two Ann Arbor-based companies, providing information technology consulting service. Kulkarni realized his dream to start his own business after he got a green card that allowed him to stay and work in the United States. As an international student, “you need a work visa to do a specific job,” he said. “But when I got a green card, I was free to do what I wanted to do.
GRAND LEDGE, MI – A little town grows a bit larger with the addition of five more businesses in the community. Within the past several weeks, the community of Grand Ledge has gained the new businesses of a Dollar Store, tobacco store, photography studio, day care and a trinket shop. Each business started without any financial help from the local government, and all opened with different inspirations. Grand Ledge’s government involvement
Mayor Kalmin Smith was surprised that these businesses all opened in such close proximity of time. “A few of them had been working for months to open,” Smith said, “and when they finally had, it was within weeks of each other.”
Though he didn’t help the businesses financially, he helped introduce the proprietors to community members and settle in.
Oscars weren’t the only awards handed out this past weekend. Two local businesses have received awards from the Meridian Asset Resource Center. Maru Sushi & Grill restaurant has received the emerging entrepreneur award and the heritage award went to Douglas J Salon and Day Spa. Established in 2008, MARC came out of MSU Extension and provides a number of opportunities and materials for businesses in Meridian Township. “The MARC is basically a collection of resources to both encourage entrepreneurship and help entrepreneurs,” business consultant Gordon Ferguson said.