Tag Archives: msu product center

MSU Product Center receives Industry Ally Award

I would like to congratulate the Michigan State University Product Center staff on their Industry Ally Award. This award recognizes companies and organizations that continue to help make the food and agriculture industry a source of economic growth and pride. They received the award at the Michigan Food and Agriculture Awards event on Monday, April 9.

“We knew we were one of nine businesses and organizations that were being recognized with an Industry Ally Award,” said Brenda Reau, senior associate director of the MSU Product Center. “What we didn’t know was that we would be named as the overall award winner in that division. It was a wonderful surprise!”

The awards program is a collaboration between the Michigan Food and Beverage Association and Corp! Magazine. The Product Center will be featured in the next issue of the magazine that circulates to 20,000 business leaders in Michigan.

The MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio was established in spring 2003 with funds from MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension to improve economic opportunities in the Michigan agriculture, food and natural resource sectors.

Congratulations again, and thank you for all you do to help Michigan move forward.

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Making a difference in MSU Extension District 6: Recap of the state council visit

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel north to District 6 along with our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and AgBioResearch State Council. Shari Spoelman, district coordinator, and the crew in MSU Extension District 6 worked hard to give us a great overview of the programming, research and outreach going on in the district, and arranged for us to spend time with the people they serve.

For those of you who are new to Extension or unfamiliar with the council, we have members from all over the state who serve as a liaison between us and our county councils, field station advisory groups, and state agencies and organizations. The members come from various backgrounds: commodity group leaders, county commissioners, 4-H volunteers and farmers. We even have a meteorologist. The more they know about the work we do and the difference we make around the state, the better they can share the Extension story with our local and state decision-makers.

We began our trip with a chance to see the Kettunen Center, a conference facility owned by the Michigan 4-H Foundation. We heard about how 4-H and Extension use the center to connect with youth and volunteers. Chris Gentry, Kettunen Center director, provided us with a tour. We heard from Sara Keinath, youth development educator, and Jake Stieg, 4-H program coordinator, on the work they do with 4-H such as Mock Interview Day and 4-H Winterfest.

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Next, we traveled to B & B Farms, owned by Dan and Bonnie Blackledge, and heard about how MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center has helped them grow and market their canola seed and oil products. Jerry Lindquist, grazing and field crops educator, met us there to talk more about the relationships that MSU Extension has with specialty crop growers.

Dan and Kathy Blackledge talk about working with MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center to grow and market their canola products. Everyone stands by their house and barn.

Dan and Kathy Blackledge talk about working with MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center to grow and market their canola products.

Afterward, we visited Hidden Hills Dairy with Kathy Lee, senior dairy educator, and saw modern technology and the results of MSU Extension input at work on the farm.

State council members tour below the milking parlor where the machines send the milk.

State council members tour the milk machines below the milking parlor at Hidden Hills Dairy.

We ended the day in downtown Cadillac with Marcus Peccia, the city manager, and Carla Filkins, the mayor, to hear about their partnership with the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction; MSU Extension and the Michigan Municipal League to create a successful placemaking plan. Marcus gave us a tour to see some of the new efforts to make downtown Cadillac a place for the community to gather as part of the Heritage Plaza PlacePlan. We saw the new amphitheater, the outdoor fireplace, the park and the future location of the Cadillac farmers market.

State Council members and administrators pose for a group photograph in downtown Cadillac.

State Council members and administrators in downtown Cadillac.

On Wednesday, Jill O’Donnell, a senior agriculture and agribusiness educator who has worked with the Michigan Christmas tree industry for over 32 years, joined us as we visited the Dutchman Tree Farm in Manton. We met with Steve VanderWeide, the owner, as he shared about farm operations and his connection with MSU Extension. We learned about the soil, tree growth process and market changes that characterize this area of the state.

Next we met up with Erin Lizotte, integrated pest management educator, at Arlene Hops to learn about hops as a re-emerging specialty crop in Michigan and MSU Extension’s efforts to provide research and support. Brian Tennis from the Michigan Hop Alliance answered questions about growing hops as well as the importance of having Extension as a valuable resource in moving forward.

State Council members stand in a hops field and listen to Erin Lizotte talk about Michigan hops.

State Council members get a chance to hear from Erin Lizotte about hop growing in Michigan.

We ended our tour at the Lake City Research Center with Jason Rowntree, Kable Thurlow and Jerry for a tour of the center and a chance to learn more about their research on forage-based livestock, potato production and bioenergy crop production. Jason is an MSU faculty member and Kable is a beef educator who conduct research and outreach at the center.

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Many council members expressed how important it was to learn more about the work we’re doing in this area of the state. It was an extremely successful trip, and I’d like to send a huge “Thank you!” out to everyone who made our visit possible.

You know, the most meaningful part for me is when we meet community members and hear how MSU Extension made a difference in their lives. Nothing beats that.

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Filed under Agriculture, Agriculture and Agribusiness, Children and Youth, Economic development, Parks, Partnerships

Making It in Michigan Conference honors entrepreneurs, director

The eighth annual Making It in Michigan conference and Premier Specialty Food Marketplace Trade Show took place Nov. 10 at the Lansing Center in Lansing. This year’s theme was “Ingredients for Success – Components and Processes for Safe, Sound and Smart Product Development.”

The Michigan State University Product Center hosts the conference. The Product Center was established in 2003 with funds from AgBioResearch and MSU Extension to improve economic opportunities in the Michigan agriculture, food and natural resource sectors.

Chris Peterson, Nowlin Chair for Consumer-Responsive Agriculture in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, is the center’s director. Dean Fred Poston presented Dr. Peterson with a tribute letter sent on behalf of Gov. Rick Snyder. In the letter, the governor expressed deep appreciation for his years of dedication through his work with the Product Center.

MSU CANR Dean Fred Poston (left) reads from the tribute letter presented to Dr. Chris Peterson, MSU Product Center director, (right) on behalf of Gov. Rick Snyder.

Michigan State University (MSU) College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Fred Poston (left) reads from the tribute letter presented to Dr. Chris Peterson, MSU Product Center director, (right) on behalf of Gov. Rick Snyder at the Making It in Michigan Conference at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Mich., Nov. 10, 2015. Photo credit: Kraig Ehm

The letter said in part, “On behalf of the people of Michigan, thank you for your dedication and commitment in helping Michigan businesses develop and commercialize goods in the food, agriculture, and bio economy industries. Utilizing the talent that Michigan has to offer is key to our comeback and reinvention. I am confident our state and countless individuals will long reap the rewards of your positive contributions.”

Product Center innovation counselors regularly assist entrepreneurs in making critical marketing, business and product decisions. As you view the following videos of Making It in Michigan award winners, you’ll get an idea of just how important the counselor-client relationship is. Watch as winners talk about the help and guidance they received from the Product Center. Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications television producer/director Kraig Ehm and Matt Birbeck of the Product Center produced the videos.

Click on the embedded links in the award title to watch:

Director’s Award: Mary Safie, president and CEO, Safie’s Specialty Foods

Barrier Buster: Joseph Oginsky, baker and business manager, Town-to-Town Gourmet Pastries

Value-Added Agricultural: Bonnie Steinman, public relations, Hop Head Farms

Entrepreneur of the Year: Brian Rudolph, co-founder, Banza

Start-Up to Watch: Jill Bommarito, president and founder, Ethel’s Edibles

 

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Filed under Conferences, Uncategorized

Making It in Michigan Conference welcomes Kroger and Garden Fresh Gourmet

The seventh annual Making It in Michigan conference and Premier Specialty Food Marketplace Trade Show will take place Nov. 12 at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing, Michigan. This year’s conference theme is “Fresh Thinking for Success – New Ideas for Building an Iconic Brand and Instilling Brand Engagement With Retailers and Customers.”

The Michigan State University Product Center Food-Ag-Bio designed this conference for those who are involved in the food industry as well as those who are looking to make their food business idea a reality.

The MSU Product Center website says that, “Conference attendees will be equipped with the practical knowledge and industry resources needed to move an idea from the concept stage to a finished and marketable product. Attendees will be able to evaluate and refine business ideas, connecting with industry experts that offer insights making their businesses more efficient and profitable.”

This year, the MSU Product Center is pleased to announce Garden Fresh Gourmet founder Jack Aronson and co-CEO John J. Latella as members on the keynote panel. Garden Fresh Gourmet is a Michigan business that started out as part of a restaurant venture, but has grown to earn more than 450 major national and international awards for its products, and to become the single largest producer of fresh salsa in North America. Both business leaders will share the company story and field questions from the gathering of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Kroger is also a welcome addition as a featured partner for the event. Kroger and the MSU Product Center have collaborated over the past years in creating an in-store marketplace for Michigan-grown and Michigan-made products. Their support of Making It in Michigan is an excellent way to continue the partnership.

“We highly value Kroger’s initiative to create a dedicated Michigan section promoting Michigan companies and showcasing the diversity and assortment of great local food,” says Matt Birbeck, MSU Product Center’s High Impact Venture Action Team project manager.

It’s not too late to register! Conference registration includes breakfast, lunch, educational sessions, digital access to the educational sessions and reference materials, and admission to the Marketplace Trade Show. Early conference registration is $79. After Nov. 1, conference registration is $99. Vendor registration is $185. Register on the Product Center website.

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

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Extension educators talk business

It’s always great to be able to tell our story and get the word out about Michigan State University Extension’s contributions to the state’s residents. One method of communication is radio.

 Andy Hayes, MSU Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute and president of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, does a weekly Internet-based radio show on the Michigan Business Network called “Around the State.”

 His program airs every Thursday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. It can be downloaded afterward anytime online as a podcast. Each session, Andy focuses on a theme and all six interviews that hour tie to that theme.

 On the May 8 broadcast, the theme was MSU Extension. Andy interviewed six MSU Extension educators including:

  • Mark Breederland on the importance of educating to advance entrepreneurship
  • Frank Gublo on emerging farm management
  • Mark Hitchcock on the importance of supporting our own food systems to in turn support our economy
  • Kathy Jamison on the importance of educating future entrepreneurs for overall career success
  • Mark Thomas on the MSU Product Center
  • Kendra Wills on the Grand Rapids Downtown Market

 Click on the following link below to listen to each 6-minute session: http://michiganbusinessnetwork.com/radio/Around_the_State

 Check out the Michigan Business Network website to listen to more shows that include MSU Extension educators.

 If you have a business-related topic you’d like to discuss on the air, contact Andy at ANDY@NORTHERNLAKES.NET.

 We’re grateful for the opportunity to communicate our message.

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Making It in Michigan conference produces winners – including Extension

The sixth annual Making It in Michigan conference and Premier Specialty Food Marketplace Trade Show took place Nov. 12 at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. Conference host, the Michigan State University Product Center Food-Ag-Bio, celebrated its 10th year.

Michigan State University Extension was honored at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Product Center that evening when Product Center director Chris Peterson presented the Network Partner award to Steve Lovejoy, associate director of MSU Extension, who accepted on Extension’s behalf.

The award recognizes the recipient for outstanding support provided to the Product Center and its network clients.

“The partnering efforts of the award winner have allowed the Product Center to achieve a special level of service excellence that could not otherwise have been achieved. We express our deep appreciation for all of the support that MSU Extension provides from base funding to utilizing Extension educators as our innovation counselor network. We look forward to continuing this partnership that extends the resources of Michigan State University to entrepreneurs and creates economic impact across Michigan,” said Dr. Peterson.

 

Chris Peterson, Michigan State University Product Center director, (left) presents MSU Extension with the Network Partner Award Nov. 12, 2013, following the Making It in Michigan conference at the Kellogg Center in Lansing, Mich. Associate director of MSU Extension Steve Lovejoy (right) accepts the award.  Photo credit: Sharp Marketing Associates

At the 10th anniversary celebration of the MSU Product Center at the Kellogg Center in Lansing, Mich., Chris Peterson, Michigan State University Product Center director, (left) presents MSU Extension with the Network Partner Award Nov. 12, 2013, following the Making It in Michigan conference. Associate director of MSU Extension Steve Lovejoy (right) accepts the award.
Photo credit: Sharp Marketing Associates

Cherry Capital Foods with owner John “Chip” Hoagland won the Business Partner award.

The Multimedia Production Unit in Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications produced some videos that highlight the entrepreneurial winners at the conference. Click on the links below on each award to view each video:

Entrepreneur of the Year: Drought (Jenny, Jane, Julie, Jessie and Caitlin James and Bianca Colbath)

Start-Up to Watch: The Gluten Free Bar (Marshall Rader)

Barrier Buster: Morano Foods (Greg Morano)

Value-Added Agriculture: Hickory Knoll Farms Creamery (Rusty Plummer and Mike Metzger)

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Filed under Events

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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Filed under Conferences