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Making It in Michigan conference assists food and agricultural entrepreneurs, exhibits products

The sixth annual Making It in Michigan conference and Premier Specialty Food Marketplace Trade Show will take place Nov. 12 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. This year’s conference theme is “Celebrate Your Business – Accelerate Your Achievement at Every Stage of Your Company.”

The Michigan State University Product Center Food-Ag-Bio hosts the conference, and this year the center celebrates its 10th birthday. The conference as well as the center assists the state’s entrepreneurs, producers, buyers and processors in the food and agricultural businesses in achieving success. The MSU Product Center was established with funds from the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station (now AgBioResearch) and MSU Extension to improve economic opportunities in the Michigan agriculture, food and natural resource sectors. Project GREEEN also provides funding. Chris Peterson, Nowlin Chair for Consumer-Responsive Agriculture in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at MSU, is the center’s director.

At morning educational sessions, conference attendees will learn to refine and grow their businesses. Topics covered will include focusing on the product in the package, growing your specialty food business further, marketing your food product and keeping regulatory requirements in check.

Tom McIntyre, vice president of communications for Domino’s Pizza, will deliver the keynote address.

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to exhibit their Michigan-made food and agricultural products at the Premier Specialty Food Marketplace Trade Show, which will feature more than 150 new and existing businesses showingcasing their products. During the morning, the marketplace trade show is open exclusively to buyers and store owners, distributors, brokers and many others looking for new products to use or sell. In the afternoon, the marketplace trade show is open to the public at no charge.

Product Center team members will be on hand at the conference to assist and interact with participants.

One company whose owner is grateful to the Product Center is RNS Packaging, winner of the Michigan Business and Professional Association Award for being the Elite Sustainable Small Business in Michigan for 2013. The company manufactures premium nontoxic packaging while employing and retraining returning veterans. Founder Rich Daniels credits the Product Center with guiding the company’s mission and creating valuable relationships with dozens of business leaders. The company also established new sales outlets through participation in the Making It in Michigan conference and marketplace trade show.

Extension educator Joanne Davidhizar is Product Center Innovation Counselor of the Year. Joanne’s work focuses on product and business development in specialty crops. Read more about Joanne’s work here.

It’s not too late to register for the conference. Conference registration includes breakfast, lunch, educational sessions, digital copies of all presentations and reference materials, and admission to the marketplace trade show. Early registration cost is $79. After Nov. 1, the cost goes up to $99 and vendor registration is $185. Register at http://productcenter.msu.edu/miim/registration

Please promote this conference in your communities.

Read more about the conference here: http://www.sharpmkt.com/

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Making It in Michigan Conference opportunity for food and agricultural entrepreneurs

One of the themes of the year for Michigan has been that there is tremendous opportunity for economic development in food processing and other value-added activities that build on Michigan’s unique and diverse agricultural economy. It began with a white paper produced by Drs. Bill Knudson, Steven Miller and Chris Peterson of the Michigan State University Product Center, which caught the attention of Governor Rick Snyder and his administration. That led to an industry summit in April that focused attention on steps that could enhance development of new enterprises and expansion of existing ones in the food sector. The MSU Product Center already sponsors an important event that promotes opportunities for food businesses in Michigan, the Making It in Michigan conference. The conference takes place Oct. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. Please help spread the word about this extremely important event.

 The conference targets food and agricultural entrepreneurs who are just starting out as well as those well established in the food industry. The event offers educational sessions and the opportunity for entrepreneurs to put their products in front of hundreds of buyers at the Marketplace Trade Show. Attendees who have an idea that they may want to develop and take to market have direct access to MSU Product Center team members.

 The MSU Product Center was established in spring 2003 with funds from AgBioResearch and Michigan State University Extension to improve economic opportunities in the Michigan agriculture, food and natural resource sectors. Project GREEEN also provides funding.

Chris Peterson, Nowlin Chair for Consumer-Responsive Agriculture in the Department of Agricultural Economics at MSU, is the center’s director. Watch the following video in which Chris talks about the services that the Product Center offers, which range from developing an idea to testing the product to sustaining and growing the product’s sales.

In this following video, Scott Below, owner of LOL Ventures, talks about how the Product Center and Mark Thomas, innovation counselor for the Product Center, gave him the “straight scoop” about improving his business.

 The Making It in Michigan Conference is the ideal event for those looking for resources for their food and agricultural businesses or who have products that they want to showcase.

 Westborn Market is sponsoring a competition for vendors to win a year’s worth of shelf space at their stores. Watch the following video for details.

 Read more about the Making It in Michigan Conference here.

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