Register now for Michigan’s premier food entrepreneur conference 'Making It In Michigan'

Conference is Nov. 13 at the Lansing Center and space for both educational sessions and vendor space is limited.

Red'z employees holding up a jar of their special sauce
Red'z Bulgogi BBQ-Marinade was featured at a recent Making it in Michigan conference and trade show.

Registration is now open for the Making It In Michigan Marketplace and Trade Show, the state’s premier food entrepreneur conference. The conference, now in its 12th year, attracts hundreds of new and established food businesses and offers up both a vendor trade show and an educational conference full of sessions to help people start and grow their food businesses.

The conference is put on by Michigan State University Extension’s Product Center, which has provided one-on-one counseling, research and analysis for food businesses since 2003.

Register for the Making it in Michigan Conference

“Making It In Michigan has served as the launching pad for so many amazing businesses,” said Tina Conklin, director of accelerated growth services at the Product Center. ”We are thrilled to offer up the Product Center’s expertise at the conference because it provides the real-world practical information beginning entrepreneurs need to know.”

The 2019 conference will take place Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan, and will have sessions on selling your product to institutions, working with a retailer, common hurdles for new food entrepreneurs and more.

The vendor trade show will feature hundreds of booths featuring Michigan-made products and businesses and buyers from major retailers will be present looking for items they can add to their stores. Buyers on site will include those from large chains, independent grocers, specialty food retailers, food-co-ops and specialty gift businesses.

More than 150 vendors are expected to fill the halls of the Lansing Center.

“Not only will you have a chance to taste amazing food, you get a chance to meet so many amazing people,” Conklin said. “The business owners at the trade show are passionate and dedicated to these products. It also gives them a chance to network and talk and learn with their peers. It’s always inspiring seeing everyone come together.”

The keynote session this year will feature a panel of three previous Product Center clients called “Climbing the Ladder to Entrepreneurial Success.” Panelists include Scott Owens, co-founder, president and master mixologist for Scotty O’Hotty hot sauce; Andrew Chmielewski, founder of Dave’s Sweet Tooth Toffee and co-founder of MItten Crate, a subscription box company that sends unique Michigan products; and Jill Bommarito, founder and president of Ethel’s Baking Company, which offers dessert bars and cookies.

Registration for both the conference and the trade show are both open. Cost to register as a vendor in a 10-foot-by-10-foot booth is $249. Cost to attend the conference, featuring 12 sessions to choose from, is $129.

For more information and to register, please visit https://extension.msu.edu/miim.

Conference Educational Sessions

Block 1

  • Selling Your Product to Institutions
  • Common Hurdles as a New Food Entrepreneur
  • How to Secure Locally Raised Meats & Cheeses
  • Winning @ Retail – How to Market ‘Local’

Block 2

  • Working with a Retailer – Who, What, Where and How?
  • Taking the Mystery Out of Lot Coding, UPC’s & Shelf Life
  • The Art of Branding Through Your Label
  • Working with a Co-Packer: When to Make That Important Decision

Block 3

  • Working with a Distributor – When, Why and How?
  • Food Label Claims: Clearing Up the Confusion
  • Consumer Trends in Beverages
  • Researching the Best Packaging solution: Where Do I Begin?

Keynote: “Climbing the Ladder to Entrepreneurial Success” panel discussion

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