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For individuals thinking about starting a business from a product idea or even an old family recipe, the third annual Making It In Michigan conference can help bring concept to fruition. Hosted by the Michigan State University (MSU) Product Center, the conference is designed with budding entrepreneurs in mind and features multiple educational sessions, a keynote address from a nationally renowned expert on consumer food trends and the opportunity to network with over 130 vendors of Michigan specialty food products.

Conference attendees will leave the conference equipped with the practical knowledge and industry resources needed to move an idea from the concept stage to a finished and marketable product. Attendees will be able to corroborate and refine business concepts with a virtual market validation test. Industry experts will offer insight and tips on managing the common hurdles often encountered by entrepreneurs, including food safety, working with co-packers, marketing and food safety issues in the dairy, meat, bakery and beverage areas.

“The conference was designed to help those people that have an idea in their head for a business, but have no idea what to do or where to start in making their dream a reality,” states Matthew Birbeck, MSU Product Center Counselor. “Especially considering the state of Michigan’s economy, someone without a job can fulfill the aspiration of launching Grandma’s spaghetti sauce into an income-generating venture,” says Birbeck.

The Making It In Michigan conference will be held Tuesday, October 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing.

The educational sessions will bring together leading Michigan experts to help guide attendees through starting businesses in the following areas:

• Product and Recipe Development

• Scientific and Regulatory Criteria Used For Evaluating Products

* Creating Product Inventory and Distribution

• Identifying Target Market and Customer Profiling

• Preparing For and Working With Co-Packers

• Shelf-stable Food Processing

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 the Best Barrier Buster, Most Successful Business Transition and Best Innovative Business Idea. 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 Marketplace trade show in the afternoon will feature over 130 entrepreneurs who will be showcasing their new food products to buyers and conference attendees who can taste and purchase items. In addition, the Michigan Grocers Association will have store directors and department managers, buyers and category managers and manufacturer retail account managers walking the trade show after their seminar to support buying local Michigan food.
The $60 per person conference registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, educational sessions and admission to the Marketplace trade show.

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