Five local entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of over 50 people at the second annual Pitch North competition. They were competing for the chance to win over $9,000 in cash prizes to bring their ideas to life. The event was held Wednesday, June 24th via ZOOM.

Pitch North was designed to spark entrepreneurial change and encourage more small businesses to start in Newaygo, Oceana, and Lake counties. Pitch North received 28 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.

“Entrepreneurs don’t stop working hard, even amid a global pandemic. Each finalist stepped out of their comfort zone to participate in this competition,” said Julie Burrell, Business Development Coordinator – Newaygo County, The Right Place, Inc. “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 $4,000 was awarded to Amber Hellewell, Hearth Magic, in Pentwater. Amber plans to use her prize money to upgrade computer, printer and other equipment to allow her business to scale. Second place was awarded to Ron Radkay, Elsie’s Ice Cream Shop in Fremont. Ron plans to expand Elsie’s and add an old fashioned soda fountain to allow for the business to operate year round. The third place prize went to Paul Avery from Tiki Hut Farm Market in Chase. Paul’s prize money will allow him to add additional parking spaces to continue growing his business into an agritourism destination.

Due to the pivot to a virtual format, all five finalists received cash prizes.

1st Place: $4,000 - Amber Hellewell, Hearth Magic

2nd Place: $2,500 - Ron Radkay, Elsie’s Ice Cream

3rd Place: $1,500 - Paul Avery, Tiki Hut Farm Market

4th Place: $800 - Ashley Titman, Ashley Marie Farm and Bakery

5th Place: $500 - Janet Lipzinski, Up North Gift Company

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, Thomas Hawley, Executive Director of College Relations at West Shore Community College and Scott Rumsey, Owner of Ed’s Orchard Market volunteered as judges for the event.

You can watch a recording of the 2020 Pitch North event here:

For more information, visit or contact Julie Burrell at or 231.335.1985

Pitch North is hosted by The Right Place, Inc. and made possible through support from Consumers Energy, The Fremont Area Community Foundation, Northern Initiatives, Gerber Federal Credit Union, Shelby State Bank, River Country Chamber of Commerce and West Shore Community College.