Small biz pitch competition set for the rural communities of Ionia and Montcalm counties

What’s happening: The MIPitch small business contest for the entrepreneurs of Ionia and Montcalm counties is set to return after a successful inaugural run in 2021. Entrepreneurs based in the two counties are encouraged to submit their applications via the MIPitch website, as there are no paper applications.

What it is: The MIPitch competition is open to soon-to-be entrepreneurs and already established entrepreneurs alike, says Ryan Wilson, executive director of the Ionia County Economic Alliance, whether it’s a good idea scribbled on a napkin or an established business looking to expand services, products, or otherwise. The main stipulation is that the entrepreneurs must be based in Ionia or Montcalm counties. If the business is an online business, the entrepreneur must live in one of the two aforementioned counties.

Final countdown: Five finalists will be selected from the applicant pool, who will then move on to present their pitches in front of a panel of judges at the MIPitch event on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Candlestone Resort in Belding. The top pitch nets the winner a $5,000 cash prize, and each of the four runners-up will also receive a cash prize. Applications and contest rules are available online.

Who’s behind it: The contest is presented by the Ionia County Economic Alliance and Montcalm Economic Alliance in partnership with The Right Place, Inc., a Grand Rapids-based economic development organization. The event itself is co-hosted by the Ionia Area Chamber of Commerce, Belding Area Chamber of Commerce, and Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce. The event is free and open to the public, and registration is available online.

Why it’s important: “What we struggle with a lot in economic development is that it’s often the cities that don’t necessarily need financial help are the ones that get financial help,” Wilson says. “Our whole idea here is let’s do something for the rural communities that don’t get a lot of funding and keep it all in-house. We lined up the funders to do that; $5,000 goes a long way for a small business. We want to do whatever we can to strengthen our small businesses and raise them up.”

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