County-Wide Winners Announced | Catapult Your Food and Beverage Competition

Bird Creek Taproom is the first place winner of the county-wide competition in Huron County, winning $2,000 and moving on to compete in the regional finale.

1st Place Winner for Huron County Competition - Bird Creek Tap Room

1st Place Winner for Huron County Competition - Bird Creek Tap Room

Recently, the I-69 Thumb Region partnership put together the “Catapult Your Craft Food and Beverage Business” competition. The competition is a public event that will award over $30,000 dollars in prizes to the winners, helping them to start or grow their craft food or beverage business. The county-wide competition took place last week on Thursday, and the winners of the local competitions are now to move on to the final, regional competition. Business owners and entrepreneurs were required to submit a 3-page executive summary and a pitch presentation for their ideas.

The I-69 Thumb Region is a partnership of seven counties in eastern Michigan, including Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair and Tuscola counties. The purpose of the  I-69 Thumb Region partnership is to promote regional prosperity. Within the partnership are citizens from every county working together to obtain funding from the US Economic Development Administration and the Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative, and create opportunities to improve the area’s economy, lifestyle, and tourism, to name a few.

The Catapult Your Food or Beverage Business competition:

“aims to retain and grow Michigan businesses by providing capital to expand production and increase jobs, grow value-added agriculture by establishing craft ag businesses that will increase value of local commodities, and expand assistance to communities throughout the region.”

The first place winners of the county-wide competitions received $2,000 and will move on to compete in the regional finale for even more award opportunities. Second place winners received $1,000. Here are the first and second place winners for each of the counties.

County-Wide First Place

County-Wide Second Place

Huron County | Competition and Winners

With only two competitors in the Huron County competition, both were going home with something right out of the gate! Each competitor was given 8 minutes to pitch their business idea or need, then three judges deliberated.

From left to right: Mike Eisengruber, Samantha Schnettler, and Debra Cunningham

From left to right: Mike Eisengruber, Samantha Schnettler, and Debra Cunningham

The Huron County judges for the county-wide competition were:

  • Debra Cunningham - President of Northstar Bank
  • Mike Eisengruber - President of BAMP Marketing & Consulting
  • Samantha Schnettler - Owner of Business Soil


1st Place

Bird Creek Tap Room presented information about their need for industrial size fermenters for the beer they brew. They shared challenges from their first year of business, noting that with the small-scale setup they had built by hand for brewing beer, they were unable to meet demand and thus increase revenue. They sought funding for larger capacity fermenters to meet demand and grow their business.

1st Place Winner - Bird Creek Tap Room - Huron County

1st Place Winner - Bird Creek Tap Room - Huron County

We reached out to Bird Creek Tap Room to get their thoughts on moving forward in the competition.

“Bird Creek Farms is thrilled to have made it through the first round of the I-69 Thumb Region’s "Catapult Your Craft Food & Beverage Business" contest hosted by the Huron County EDC and we very much look forward to the next step in the competition in January. The Tap Room has been very lucky to have gained the community support necessary to get our business off to a great start and can't wait for what is to come in 2017. We continue to strive to be a world class agri-tourism destination and hope we can, with the help of our dedicated staff and amazing customers, meet and exceed the expectations we have for our business in the future.” - Thank you, Tyler, Kyle & Jenn, Beth & Scott, and all of the Steigerwald Family.


2nd Place

2nd Place Winner - Culinary Delights - Huron County

2nd Place Winner - Culinary Delights - Huron County

Huron County’s second place winner, Culinary Delights, was a concept, not yet a business. The idea was to create packaged foods with a local manufacturer, focusing on Latin-American cuisine. The presenters had a background in manufacturing and had lived in southwest America; their goal was to bring the two together and create additional jobs in Huron County. There were a lot of gaps in their presentation and the judges ultimately felt that with time and some assistance they could fully develop their concept.

The regional and final competition will take place on January 24th at a location in Davidson, with time and exact location to be announced. We are thrilled to have one of our own competing in this awesome challenge! Good Luck Bird Creek Tap Room!