June 10th, 2021

Five local entrepreneurs win business capital as Pitch North 2021 finalists

Five entrepreneurs local to Newaygo and Oceana County pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of nearly 50 people at the third annual Pitch North competition held Tuesday, June 8th via ZOOM. The individuals competed for a chance to win over $10,000 in cash and other prizes to help bring their ideas to life.

Lake CountyNewaygo CountyOceana CountyRural Economic Development

Five entrepreneurs local to Newaygo and Oceana County pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of nearly 50 people at the third annual Pitch North competition held Tuesday, June 8th via ZOOM. The individuals competed for a chance to win over $10,000 in cash and other prizes to help bring their ideas to life.

Pitch North was launched to spark entrepreneurial change and encourage more individuals to start small businesses in Newaygo, Oceana, and Lake counties. Pitch North 2021 received 33 business idea submissions, from which five finalists were selected by a local committee to pitch at the live event. Each entrepreneur had five minutes to present, and judges had an opportunity to ask questions directly following.

“When times get tough, entrepreneurs create businesses, and that is exactly what each of the finalists did during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each finalist either came up with their idea, or perfected it over the past year, and they each stepped out of their comfort zone to participate in this competition,” said The Right Place, Inc. Business Development Manager for Newaygo County, Julie Burrell, “They showed their passion for their businesses during their pitches, which earned each of them funding to move their business idea forward.”

The first-place prize of $4,500 was awarded to Caleb Davis-Dykema, owner of A Garden In The Woods Farm in Oceana County. Davis-Dykema plans to invest his winnings to install a refrigeration station at the farm, extending the shelf-life of his products, and hire a part time flower harvester. Second place was awarded to Whitney Schornagel of House of Whole in Newaygo County. Schornagel is planning to invest in infrastructure that will allow her to increase capacity and expand sales of her cold-pressed juices. The third-place prize went to Eric Carson of Carson Family Beef in Newaygo County, who plans to expand his offerings utilizing their newly launched farm stand.

In addition to the following cash prizes, each finalist will also receive a complimentary membership to the Lakeshore FabLab:

  • 1st Place: $4,500 Caleb Davis-Dykema, A Garden In The Woods Farm, Oceana County
  • 2nd Place: $2,500 Whitney Schornagel, House of Whole, Newaygo County
  • 3rd Place: $1,500 Eric Carson, Carson Family Beef, Newaygo County
  • 4th Place: $1,000 Emmaline Woodward, Woodline Landscape & Design, Newaygo County
  • 5th Place: $500 Courtney DeGarmo, Courtney’s Canine Creations, Oceana County

Volunteer judges for Pitch North 2021 included: Marie Elliot, Business Consultant with the Small Business Development Center; Rich Houtteman, Community Affairs Manager for Consumers Energy; Melissa Marietti-Evans, Commercial Lender at Northern Initiatives; Nichole Steel Kleiner, Community & Economic Development Director, City of Hart and Tracy Straight, Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer for Shelby State Bank.

“We are so grateful to our sponsors who, since Pitch North’s inception in 2019, have infused over $27,000 of new business capital into our communities through their generous support of the competition and the 15 new businesses that have launched from it,” said The Right Place, Inc. Business Development Coordinator for Lake and Oceana Counties, Jodi Nichols.

Pitch North 2021 is hosted by The Right Place, Inc. and made possible through support from The Adama Family Gift Fund, The Fremont Area Community Foundation, Shelby State Bank, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, West Shore Community College, The City of Fremont, The City of Newaygo, The City of Hart, River Country Chamber of Commerce, Gerber Federal Credit Union and the Lakeshore FabLab.

To learn more about Pitch North, visit www.pitchnorth.com.

Questions about Pitch North? Contact Julie

Julie-Burrell-Headshot

Julie Burrell

Business Development Manager - Newaygo County

Julie serves as Newaygo County’s Business Development Manager. In this role, she provides business support services to companies in Newaygo County.

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