Crowdfunding campaign takes off to help new downtown business expand

With multiple days of sellouts upon opening the doors, Chris Welch’s business, Aviator Cookie Company “soared to new heights.” That was nearly one month ago.

Because of that, Welch’s application “rose to the top” and was chosen for this year's MYPros online crowdfunding initiative, according to Emily Schafer, director of development at the Midland Area Community Foundation (MACF). Schafer says Aviator Cookie Company stood out because of their can-do spirit.  

Emily Schafer is the director of development for the Midland Area Community Foundation.“For many, 2020 was a challenging year, but we witnessed many people change and pivot to turn lemons into lemonade. Chris and Aviator Cookie are an example of that. Also, we loved Chris’s connection and support for other businesses in our community.” 

The crowdfunding campaign was organized by the Midland Young Professionals (MYPros) and the MACF. MYPros works to attract and retain talented young professionals by creating networking opportunities, providing personal and professional development, supporting community involvement, and fostering an overall investment in the future of Midland.

Aviator Cookie Company was chosen for the campaign after an application and interview process with MYPros. The MYPros Community Crowdfund program provides opportunities to contribute to the development of businesses that seek to offer unique products and experiences for the community. 

Chris Welch puts the finishing touch on a pan of cookies.Welch was asking  — as part of the initiative —  for $10,000 in community support to help his business expand to wholesale distribution. 

“This means cookies straight to your doorstep,” says Welch on The company’s goal was to raise $10,000 by May 16, 2021. If that goal was met, the MACF’s impact investing initiative agreed to match all gifts with another $20,000 grant. Surprisingly, that goal was met in less than a week on April 14. The campaign ends today on April 15. 
Chris Welch removes Aviator Cookies from oven.
Incentives to donors ranged from one free cookie per month for a year to a one-hour introductory flight lesson.

Welch, whose job as a commercial pilot was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to use the money raised to expand his business by purchasing outdoor seating, a large mixer, and by hiring an additional employee.

Aviator Cookie Company, located at 230 E. Main St. is a bakery specializing in fresh gourmet cookies with quality ingredients. Its doors opened on March 20.
Chris & Heather Welch of the Aviator Cookie Company. He's the owner, she's the assistant manager.
“The pandemic created a need for me to put a flight plan for my dreams into action,” says Welch. “I had been thinking about this for a while with my two kids, and the pandemic created an opportunity since I had been grounded from flying.”

For more information on the crowdfunding program, email Emily Schafer at


Read more articles by Erika M. Hirschman.

A veteran freelance writer and former reporter with The Midland Daily News, Erika Hirschman has covered a wide array of topics in Midland County including education, human interest, local government and crime. Erika holds a journalism degree from Marygrove College/University of Detroit-Mercy.


Erika is an award-winning reporter, and has written for various newspapers and magazines in the state. When she’s not writing, Erika loves to read and travel, dance in her kitchen with her family and two dogs, and advocates for cancer treatment and research. She’s lived in Saginaw County for 25 years.

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