Posted 2016 at by & in category Blog, Food Marketing.

The MSU Product Center is pleased to announce the ninth annual Making It In Michigan Conference and Premier Specialty Food Marketplace Trade Show to be held Wednesday, November 16th from 7:30AM – 4:30PM at the Lansing Center.

“In supporting this year’s theme of ‘Taste the Future’ we will be presenting a comprehensive series of educational sessions with forward thinking strategies for long-term success,” states Brenda Reau, Senior Associate Director, MSU Product Center. “We are also pleased to expand the trade show this year to over 200 vendors that will be sampling Michigan-made products,” says Reau.

This year’s keynote speakers are Mike and Denise Busley, owners of Grand Traverse Pie Company. They will discuss the company’s 20-year history and how their family has influenced decisions and played a role in its success and future plans.

The one-day event features morning educational sessions that will concentrate on different business stages and cover strategies for the following:

Starting Your Business:

• Regulatory and licensing for the beginning food entrepreneur

• Farmers markets – what do they offer to my business

• Preparing for sound record keeping

• Keys to FSMA compliance in putting together a food safety plan

• Branding your product and marketing your image

Growing Your Business: 

• Making sense of social media and other communication innovations jargon

• Becoming retailer savvy to meet customer needs

• Financing beyond the bank loan – alternative choices

The Mature Business:

• Determining if imports and exports will be a good fit for your food business

• Navigating legal issues in hiring employees

Conference participants will also have time to network with the winners of this year’s MSU Product Center awards and learn from their success stories. Awards will be presented for Entrepreneur of the Year, Start-up to Watch, Best Barrier Buster, Value-Added Agriculture and the Director’s Award. MSU Product Center innovation counselors and staff members, Product Center clients, business consultants, regulatory officials and food and farming groups will also be available to provide in-depth information and counseling.

The $100 per person conference registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, and educational sessions, digital copies of all presentations and reference materials and admission to the Marketplace trade show.

The Marketplace trade show in the afternoon will feature over 200 new and existing businesses that will be showcasing and sampling their Michigan-made food and agricultural products to the general public and Michigan-based food buyers. This year will also feature beer and wine vendors for the first time. The trade show is free to the general public.

More information and conference registration is available at Those interested in attending can also call Trina Trefil at 517-353-7185 or send an email to


Posted 2016 at by & in category Blog.

Spectacular 360-degree views, made possible by windows on all four sides and curving up into the roof, are a feature of the Amtrak Great Dome car, which will be assigned to the Amtrak Pere Marquette train on four weekends this July.

Officially known as car 10031 “Ocean View,” it is the only Dome Lounge car in the entire Amtrak fleet. It will operate eastbound on Thursday nights with round-trips through the weekend, returning west to Chicago on Monday mornings, June 30-July 4, July 7-11, 14-18 and 21-24. There is no extra charge to ride in this car, built for the Great Northern Railway in 1955.

The upper level offers panoramic views of the of one of the prettiest routes in the Midwest, from the Chicago skyline to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, carousel and beach in St. Joseph, massive pickling tanks in Bangor, famous tulip town of Holland and the bright new station in Grand Rapids. Heavy traffic, steep tolls and pricey parking are far away for Amtrak customers, with adult fares starting at $32 each way, plus add-ons for bikes or small pets.

The Great Dome Car was first utilized on the Chicago to Seattle Empire Builder train operated by the Great Northern Railway and the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad, which later became Burlington Northern. The car was built in 1955 by the Budd Company, and was later conveyed to Amtrak in 1971. It was renovated in 1985 and used in daily service on the Amtrak Auto Train to and from the Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Florida areas through 1994. It was further refurbished in 1999 and earned the number 10031, and has been used in various Amtrak services including the Pacific Surfliners and other charters and excursions.

domecar 2

Posted 2016 at by & in category Blog, Grand Rapids Michigan Business.

Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation will offer walk-up checked bike service aboard the Pere Marquette at the Chicago, St. Joseph-Benton Harbor, Holland and Grand Rapids stations for only $10, starting May 6.

Reservations Required: Bicycle reservations are required and bike tickets must be presented to the conductor when boarding the train. Passengers can reserve space for their bikes by selecting “add bike” when they book their train travel on, by calling 1-800-USA- RAIL (1-800-872-7245) and at Amtrak ticket offices. Passengers can also make reservations at the Chicago ticket office and at Quik-Trak® ticketing kiosks at Chicago, St. Joseph-Benton Harbor, Holland and Grand Rapids. Bike reservations cannot be made through Amtrak mobile apps. Only one bike is permitted per person.

Passengers will be provided a bike tag by station employees in Chicago and by the train crew at St. Joseph-Benton, Harbor, Holland and Grand Rapids. Passenger must present their bike tag at the baggage car to retrieve their bike from the train crew at their destination.

Arrive Early: Passengers checking bikes must arrive 30 minutes prior to train departure to allow sufficient time to obtain their ticket and baggage tag, and to get their bike to the baggage car.

Eligible Bikes: Only standard size bikes will be permitted. Large seat/saddle bags must be removed from the bikes. These items can be carried on the train and will count as a carry-on item.

Loading Bikes: Passengers must be physically capable of lifting their bike up to shoulder height to an employee standing in the baggage car. Passengers are not permitted in this car. Amtrak personnel will store and secure the bike to the bike racks.

AmtrakBikes (1)