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Local small batch food business support received

MARQUETTE — Eleven small batch food businesses in the Upper Peninsula were awarded critical support services at the end of March.

In an effort to assist small batch food businesses across the U.P. to launch or scale up operations, Pure Michigan Business Connect and Community Development teams at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, along with local business support services, has launched a competitive pitch competition.

Twenty-three businesses applied to participate and 11 were awarded — Superior Coffee Roasting Co. Inc., Mackinac Bluffs Maple Farms Inc., Superior Culture, Peace Pie Company, Donckers, Skinny Petes, Rozie’s Foods, Rozina Dee Granola and Bakery, Stag Farms, Teach to Taste and Red’z.

Peace Pie company owner Lorri Smith has been selling her pies regularly since 2015 at the local farmers market. After a few years, she was offered a position by Joe Constance, owner of Iron Bay Restaurant.

She shared her experience with the competition in a phone interview with The Mining Journal on March 25.

“I have been there since they opened in 2017,” Smith said.

Smith knew she would be moving her bakery this year and that would involve expanding her work space and adding around seven full-time employees.

“The application was due the next day. But I just got it done and we were notified we were a finalist,” Smith said. “So I had a week to make up a four-minute pitch and then two minutes of answering questions to a panel of judges and we did it. They (Small Business Development Center) helped me through that and the prize was different support service packages for each business and you got to choose which one would suit you the best. So the support package that I won has so many wonderful things in it. The main thing is a video and photography marketing service and so I’ll be working with La Dolce video, a local advertising business in Marquette.”

She has been focused on a business plan with the upcoming move of Peace Pies to the Third Street Marketplace, a collection of local businesses that will be housed in the former Valle’s Market building along North Third Street in Marquette.

“People from the SBDC have been wonderful. Alex Kofsky from Accelerate UP and Brook Quinn from Lake Superior Community Partnership are just on Team Peace Pie and they are so helpful,” Smith said.

Applications for U.P. Food Processing Business Virtual Pitch Competition were due on Feb. 5. The selected finalists were invited to a virtual pitch on Feb. 23.

La Dolce Video and Design offered web designing, web hosting for a year, video production, photography and graphic designs.

Katie Segula can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is ksegula@miningjournal.net.

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