Charlevoix County tourism businesses invited to funding event

The Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan’s Product Development Committee is focusing efforts on one of its four primary objectives, to increase access to capital for travel-related businesses.

They have created Project Tourism, where hospitality based businesses will compete at a live event for cash prizes to leverage funding for a special project that will be a catalyst to help them grow even more.


“Our Product Development Committee is charged with finding a way for our tourism operators to have more access to funds necessary to grow their businesses in support of the Pure Michigan Brand promise,” said Mike Busley, owner of Grand Traverse Pie Company, who chairs the Product Development Committee. “We feel that face to face, organic, and fun events bringing lenders and operators together is the best way to create the ‘spark’ to lead to a win-win situation.”

He added, “Furthermore, conducting these events on a regional level across the state is the best way to insure that all tourism destinations, venues, and activities can best open doors to funding growth.”

The action-packed live event will take place on April 19, at The Hagerty Center for an engaging, action packed night of hospitality networking and connecting with area traditional and nontraditional funders.

What’s it about?
Project Tourism is designed to help connect hospitality and tourism based business owners with traditional and nontraditional funders.
Many funders will be at the April 19th event to meet area business owners.
What new project could hospitality based business tackle with $7,000 to leverage funding?
What would they dream big about?
Pitches should describe a tourism related capital project.
How much total capital is needed?
How will these funds enhance the business and therefore benefit our tourism industry?
How this could be a catalyst to something bigger?
Pitches should be no more than 250 words about how the cash prize could change business, our community or your industry.
Ideal candidates would use the funds as leverage for loans with traditional and nontraditional funders.

March 15th Submissions Due
March 17th Finalists Selected
March 21st Pitch Night Orientation 8am – 10am
April 11th/ 12th One on One Counseling Session with the Small Business Development Center
April 19th Live Competition Pitch Night at The Hagerty Center at 5pm

Rules & Guidelines
• Pitches are only accepted from for-profit companies.
• Applicants must be business owners for hospitality or tourism related company.
• Applicants may not be a start up company.
• Pitches should include information that demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in the hospitality/tourism industry, explains how this prize will leverage more funding and shows how this project will impact the regional industry.
• You must be 18 years of age by March 15, 2017.
• Your business must be located in one of the following counties: Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee,
Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Charlevoix, or Emmet.
• The finalists must attend the Pitch Night Orientation on March 21 from 8am-10am.
• The finalists will receive one counseling session with the Small Business Development Center to help prepare for Pitch Night.
• Pitches must be submitted by March 15 at 4pm. No exceptions will be made.
• From the applications, up to six finalists will be selected.
• Pitches and contact information will be shared with our lender partners.
• Finalists that are selected must be ready to provide a five-minute pitch live to the judges on
April 19.
• Any company that submits a pitch will be offered complimentary admittance for two people to the Pitch Night on April 19.
• Applications must have less than $10 million in sales annual and less than 100 employees.
• On April 19, finalists will be judged by a panel for 80% of the vote. 20% will come the attendees of the event.
• First place prize is $7,000, second place is $2,000 and third place is $1,000.
• You must agree to be recognized publicly as a contestant.