SmartPrize Innovator Competition


Anyone from anywhere can compete in SmartPrize.

Are you an innovator with a unique gadget or app, an entrepreneur just getting started or a small business owner ready to grow to the next level? SmartPrize is your opportunity to showcase your innovation, start-up or expansion, show the judges and the crowd what’s so great about your idea and compete to win a share of the purse.

MINIMUM PURSE $20,000 and growing…

Enter your product or business idea in one of these categories:

Growth– In the implementation phase –has not generated revenue in excess of $500,000: Minimum Prize $7,500 

Start­up – In the development phase – has received financial commitments in excess of $5,000 but less than $500,000: Minimum Prize $5,250 

Concept – Still in the idea phase – has not received financial commitments in excess of $5,000: Minimum Prize $2,250

You could also qualify to win:

Crowd Favorite: $2,000

Best Tourism-Related: $3,000

Activity in downtown Marquette Michigan.

‘Science Fair meets Shark Tank’ in this ten-day competition staged April 1 through April 10, 2017 in downtown Marquette, Michigan. Entrepreneurs and innovators put their innovation, start-up or expansion ideas on display in venues throughout Marquette’s Downtown District. In addition to juried prizes, a Crowd Favorite category allows onlookers to vote for their top choice.

Registration Opens November 1, 2016

Judging and Vote for Crowd Favorite April 1 – 10, 2017


Become a Sponsor

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SmartPrize 2016 WINNERS!

Crowd Favorite – $2,000

Project Pegasus – Chris Wahmhoff, Baraga, MI – with 1,799 votes of 5,829 total votes

Tourism – $3,000

The Living Dock – Friends of the Ore Dock Boteco Center, Marquette, MI

Concept – $2,250

Bandolure – Janah Pruitt, Marquette, MI

Start-Up – $5,250 and $2,500 in legal services from Varnum Attorneys at Law

Project Pegasus – Chris Wahmhoff, Baraga, MI

Growth – $7,500 and $10,000 in advertising from Eagle Radio

Building an Agricultural Economy – Partridge Creek Farm, Ishpeming, MI

View all SmartPrize 2016 Exhibitors

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DDA Logo - color       Eagle Logo Classic HitsLandmark Inn logo906 logo

    Varnum logo     CVB-Logos-Blue_Logo Titletv6-logo-300x218   WealthStrategyGroup_logo-04


SmartPrize 2016 Exhibitors and Venues

Category: Concept – In the Idea Phase


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Exhibit: Friends of Ore Dock BotEco Center – Winner of Tourism Category – $3,000

Exterior of The Landmark Inn, an historic hotel in Marquette Michigan.Location: The Landmark Inn, 230 N. Front Street – The Landmark Inn is an historic, boutique hotel (Member of Historic Hotels of America), surrounded by the majesty of Lake Superior on one side and the rolling terrain of historic downtown Marquette on the other. Within its walls are decades of rich Michigan history. The inn is nestled in the heart of historic downtown Marquette, across from the Peter White Public Library. Stay and play within walking distance of the shoreline, museums, galleries, theaters, unique shops, restaurants, entertainment, hiking and biking trails. Take a culinary journey, offering three dining options under one roof. The “Piedmont,” open daily, welcomes guests with a warm and cozy atmosphere; featuring Northern Italian fare, including wood-fired pizzas, serving breakfast and dinner daily. The “Northland Pub” offers casual fare for lunch and dinner daily; including appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, specialty wraps and a variety of Michigan craft beer. The “Northstar Lounge,” atop the Landmark Inn, overlooking majestic Lake Superior, features dinner and specialty cocktails nightly. Relax in one of the individually and distinctively decorated guest rooms, providing old-world charm with modern day conveniences. Discover a place that time forgot, but you never will.

Hours Open for Viewing: Open 24 hours daily

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: In order to transform a former industrial site and structure into a tourist destination and community center, BotEco (a.k.a., Friends of the Ore Dock BotEco Center), a group of concerned citizens, formed a 501c3 non-profit organization. We share the vision of repurposing a decommissioned ore dock located in Marquette, Michigan’s Lower Harbor, to benefit our community and beyond. “BotEco” stands for Botanical Ecological Space. The initiative seeks to create a shared commons, based upon extensive community input, showcasing four “pillars”: (1) Provide year-round public space available for receptions, events, concerts, festivals, and the like. (2) Provide historical preservation and information – including orientation to other museums in the area – regarding our waterfront heritage. (3) Provide a venue for ecological education related to Lake Superior — including orientation to results from research facilities all around the Great Lakes. And (4) provide a place where visitors can celebrate regional and distant fauna in year-round climate controlled green space.

BotEco Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


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Exhibit: The Fab Stapler

revisisonsLocation: Revisions Design Studio, 219 W Washington St – We at Revisions know the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation.  Being a small business ourselves, where we design, manufacture and sell our products all in house, we would love to support others on their journey to making their ideas a reality. We are ideally situated right downtown on Washington St., with easy access to parking. Our storefront is not only a destination for shoppers but also frequented by plenty of foot traffic from sightseers, those out enjoying the downtown, or on their way to the many restaurants near by.

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-4pm

Exhibitor: Amber Rachel Neely

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: The Fab Stapler is a handheld tool that can staple a wide range of fabrics from very fine lace to thick leather. The Fab Stapler works by introducing an interlocking staple stitch between two pieces/sides of material. The staple stitch is permanent or semi-permanent to allow tailors and designers to temporarily tack materials together for planning purposes. There are many existing tools that are similar in size and shape to the Fab Stapler. What sets the Fab Stapler apart form other craft tools is the interlocking staple stitch that allows two materials to be joined permanently and effortlessly by hand. No threading needles or dealing with unruly bobbins. No hot glue guns. No safety pins. Just reliable fastening without a fuss. Our target audience includes crafters, tailors, costume designers, seamstresses, upcyclers, interior designers, fashion stylists, glampers, artists, set designers, (re)designers, teachers and homeowners. Any household can benefit from owning a Fab Stapler.

Fab Stapler Pitch – SmartPrize 2016



Exhibit: Broken Bulb Photography

Art of FramingLocation: The Art of Framing, 149 W. Washington – Facebook: Art of Framing of Marquette 

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Fri 9:30am – 5:30pm, Sat 9:30am – 3pm, Closed Sundays

Exhibitor: Bonnie Cassidy

Community: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Summary of Business Concept: Capturing ideas from the romantic and the elegant, to the horrifying and chilling, Broken Bulb Photography will offer an artistic viewpoint that will ignite the passion, darkness and creativity of the human state, creating a true sense of magnificence, while inspiring dread and excitement with carefully crafted images. These images will be marketed to magazines and sold as art prints to gain an artistic reputation and further the name of the company. A website, a magazine and a possible future book of my work is what I would like to accomplish within the next two years. This is a concept that is rarely seen or heard about, providing a chance to promote something new and exciting.



Mobile Desktop

Exhibit: Yooper Singles

storefront (1)Location: Wattsson & Wattson Jewelers, 118 W. Washington St. –  The Gold Mine at Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers is 100 ft. indoor mine features local mining history, fossilized dinosaur eggs, gemstones and more. The mine exits in the Rock Room, which features local specimens and a viewing area of the jewelers’ work shop. Visitors are treated to a free plastic mining hat and cleaning of their jewelry. Named America’s Coolest Jewelry Store in 2004 by Instore Magazine.

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Sat 10am – 7pm, Sun 12pm – 4pm

Exhibitor: Bugsy Sailor

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: Yooper Singles is the world’s only website built exclusively for Yoopers. A shared goal for our community is to retain and attract talent. One way to do that is to provide job opportunities. However, we argue that finding a love connection is just as valuable to an individual’s long-term commitment to the community. What better way retain talent, than give fellow Yoopers a way to meet fellow lumberjacks and lumberjanes. Yooper Singles will offer a rich online experience to meet other singles in the area with unique tie-ins to local community events. Whether it’s a sled dog race or speed dating event at a brewery, Singles will provide opportunities for community participation and a chance of finding a lifetime sauna partner. Yooper Singles was launched on April 1, 2014 as an April Fools Day joke. On that day nearly 1,000 people registered, they have continued to register daily since, and have been eager to see a full functioning site. Together, we can build love connections deeper than Lake Superior.

Yooper Singles Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


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Exhibit: Tree Hugger

Blackrocks Brewery is a social hub in downtown Marquette, Michigan.Location: Blackrocks Brewery, 424 N Third St –  We have beer!

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon-Wed 4pm-11pm Thurs-Sun 12pm-11pm

Exhibitor: Lance Attwell

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: A multi-use hanging apparatus for outdoor activity use. Applications include Camping, Biking, and Hiking. This potential product offers a wide variety of uses and applications. It is portable, lightweight, and easy to use. There has been hundreds of hours of research and development to create this cohesive product over a few year span.

Tree Hugger Pitch – SmartPrize 2016




Exhibit: Bandolure – Winner of Concept Category – $2,250

image001Location: Range Bank, 100 N. Front St –  Range Bank is a community bank with 12 offices located in Marquette County, Dickinson County and the Copper Country.  We manage over $655 million in assets. Range Bank is currently the only bank with its headquarters in Marquette County.

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat 9am – 12pm

Exhibitor: Janah Pruitt

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: I would like to replace the bulkiness of the fisherman’s tackle box and replace it with the bandolure. You can take the Bandolure anywhere! You strap it on with your favorite tackle and go. It’s slim and worn over the shoulder and around the waist. It’s a fisherman’s dream.



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Exhibit: Here Comes the Sun

Location: Richardson Jewelers, 153 W Washington St –

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Fri 10am – 5:30pm, Sat 11am – 3pm, Closed Sun

Exhibitor: Gisele Duehring

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: We will form a non-profit, Here Comes the Sun. Here Comes the Sun will take radar images — not satellite shots of clouds — but the colorful radar images of hurricanes and other natural disasters and print them on cloth tote bags, tee shirts, and scarves (for starters) along with the name of the event if applicable, e.g. Katrina, and Here Comes the Sun. We will market these on-line internationally. Proceeds will go to 2 disaster relief services. The first implements methods that work well in developing countries. The second org is one whose activities are geared towards the United States and Canada.

Here ComesTheSun Pitch –SmartPrize 2016


Category: Start-Up – Development Phase


Exhibit: NeuroTrainer Brain Gym

IMG_8948Location: NeuroTrainer, 337 W. Washington Street – 

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Sun 8am – 5pm

Exhibitor: Dr. Jeff Nyquist – Exhibitor is displaying at own Venue

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: Gamified neuroscience trains athletes for improved performance and concussion avoidance. Our neurotraining technology is a virtual reality experience for athletes 13 to 23 years old. We are the world’s first Brain Gym, where you can exercise your mind using gamified Neuroscience and Virtual Reality! We can provide competitions with a leader board for everyone to compete against other. More importantly, everyone can try virtual reality brain training.

Neuro Tainer Pitch – SmartPrize 2016




Exhibit: Posture Plank

RiverValleyBank1Location: River Valley Bank, 1101 North Third Street – Welcome to the Bank of Now – an open and accommodating space meeting the community’s banking needs while offering an open café area and fireplace lounge. River Valley Bank’s open floor plan, combined with a dedicated café area and gourmet coffee machine, creates a welcoming space for the community to utilize – regardless of their banking needs. Many community members come in to spend their lunch hour surfing on our free WIFI, to read the local paper while enjoying a customized cappuccino or to host their small committee meetings in an accessible location. Our customers look forward to our rotating business of the month spotlight; the selected SmartPrize exhibition will be our feature for the month of April. The public visibility from the spotlight has resulted in increased product sales for the featured businesses. Stop in on your downtown SmartPrize tour to share your opinion about the most interesting business plan. While you’re here, relax in front of our fireplace with a cold pop or hot cappuccino. Connect to our WIFI to check in for the full #rivervalleyexperience! Our newly renovated location offers the comfort and convenience of a café lounge for an easy and efficient banking experience. We welcome customers and community members to visit our bank for a beverage, to host a committee meeting or to utilize it as an event space!

Hours Open for Viewing: Lobby will be open Mon – Fri 8:30am – 6:00pm, Sat – Sun 12pm – 4pm

Exhibitor: Brian J. Kulbieda DC

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: Due to a large percentage of students and work force being crouched forward over a computer and personal devices, poor posture is becoming an epidemic. With this produce made of U.P. hardwood (plywood) Posture Plank can be used to re-train a forward hunched posture to what their body should be, shoulders back, chin up, and with the slogan of “I stand corrected” should definitely be a crowd favorite. We will also have an ipod with posture app for confirmation of results.

Posture Plank Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


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Exhibit: Universal Micro-Tractor

Marquette Food Co-op Location: Marquette Food Co-op, 502 W Washington –  We are a well-established co-op grocery with a cafe and teaching classroom. We are located in a new, modern, energy efficient, very nicely lit building. We are a destination location and community gathering place for an established customer base of 700-800 people per day. Our shoppers are highly engaged and expect new information and experiences when they visit our Co-op. They com to our Co-op to purchase food, the message behind that food, and to learn about others ways to engage in their community. Additionally, the exhibit space is in direct sight of the main entry door to our store. The Marquette Food Co-op is more than a full-service community-owned grocery store. We are a community gathering and teaching center. Access to our facility is easy with a convenient parking lot for off street parking. You can grab some needed groceries and dine in our comfortable cafe before or after viewing our SmartPrize exhibit. If you come in on Sunday you can also enjoy free live music during Acoustic Cafe.

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Sun 8am – 9pm

Exhibitor: Steven McCollough

Community: Garden, Michigan

Summary: The Universal Micro-Tractor combines the utility of a wheel hoe with multiple attachments such as carts, wheel barrows, snow shovels and other hand propelled garden tools. This project is designed for gardeners, offering low cost equipment design and 21st century gardening methods.  A wheel chair crawler (especially good for low tunnels) is a component of this multi-purpose tool, as well as snow-shovel, wheel barrow, garden wagon, and various ground cultivating attachments. Many of the actual manufactured parts will be on display, with pictures in the background showing some of the alternative configurations.  This visually stunning product can not be overlooked being composed of uniquely manufactured garden tools that are fun to contemplate using.



Exhibit: Portable Blood Typing & Hematocrit Testing 

UP-Childrens-MuseumLocation: The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, 123 W. Baraga Avenue –   The UP Children’s Museum has a large visitation numbers with lots of fun innovation going on all the time. We’re a children’s museum! The Children’s Museum is a fun place to visit so it’s a fun place for a great exhibit! This exhibit complements our Human Body science section in the museum.

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon, Tues, Weds, Sat 10am – 6pm; Thurs 10am – 7:30pm; Fri 10am – 8pm, Sun 12pm – 5pm

Exhibitor: MicroDevice Engineering – Robin Damschroder, Mary Raber and Adrienne Minerick, PhD

Community: Houghton, Michigan

Summary: MDE is developing a portable handheld device that concurrently determines hematocrit and ABO-Rh blood type.  The unit requires only a single drop of blood and utilizes electric fields within a lab-on-a-chip platform to first determine hematocrit (~30 sec) and then determine ABO-Rh blood type (~5 min) in a simple, one step test that does not require perishable reagents. Blood donation centers can streamline the acquisition of blood products with one device that requires less training, fewer steps, cleaner methods, and better accuracy compared to current products. Our product works with those in our community everyday meet a critical need.

DropTypeCrit Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


Riots Riots-Mama and Babies

Exhibit: Riots. Aware for you. Everywhere.™

Information Center_June 2015 (2)Location: Eagle Mine Information Center, 153A W. Washington St. – 

Hours Open for Viewing: Tue – Fri 10am – 5pm

Exhibitors: Riots Instruments, Inc. and Riots Global Oy

Community: Negaunee, Michigan and Oulu, Finland

Summary: Riots Instruments, Inc., based in Negaunee, Michigan, USA, and Riots Global Oy, based in Oulu, Finland, are sister startup companies creating and developing new IoT products for a smarter, more sustainable world. Riots has developed the open-source Riots Platform™, which forms an expandable network of plug-and-play, Arduino-compatible sensors and controllers for smart homes and businesses of the twenty-first century. The Platform consists of the Riots Mama™ internet gateway and a variety of Riots Babies™ network nodes (e.g., Riots Gyro™, Riots Light™, Riots Air™). Riots offers free basic connection to Riots Cloud™. Visit Riots at to learn more.

RIOTS Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


Instant Up Design Rendering - Photo

Exhibit: Instant Up and Instant Apps

RamadaexteriorLocation: Ramada Marquette, 412 W Washington St –

Hours Open for Viewing:

Exhibitors: Jon Gustafson and Patricia Stevens

Community: Marquette County, Michigan

Summary: Instant Up is a remote control device to operate electronic windows in vehicles. Instant App is a complimentary application for this device to be controlled by alternate devices like a smart phone also a web location where any remote controlled devices may contract services for similar products available for downloading. Have you ever been caught with your windows down when a sudden rain storm occurred? Getting drenched while making a mad dash for your vehicle to roll up the windows – Well no more – Instant Up is here for you ! Michigan’s strong automotive history and support of this industry makes it the perfect location for manufacturing this product and related complimentary application data base on the web.

Instant Up Pitch –SmartPrize 2016



restoring-the-sundbergfront siteplan

Exhibit: Upper Peninsula Brewing Company

Location: Vango’s Pizza and Cocktail Lounge, 927 North Third Street –  Vango’s is the home of the oldest pizza parlor in Marquette. Locate at the corner of N Third and Park Street, we are your neighborhood bar and restaurant. We specialize in only the freshest, homemade food in town. We make our own dough and sauce from scratch, and use only the freshest vegetables for all of our pizzas, soups, salads and specials. We invite you to come and taste the difference and enjoy our friendly atmosphere!

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon 11am – 11pm, Tue – Wed 11am – 12am, Thu – Sat 11am – 1am, Sun 12pm – 11pm

Exhibitors: Jim and Ann Kantola

Community: Negaunee, Michigan

Summary: The Upper Peninsula Brewing Company will be renovating and occupying the historic Sundberg Building creating a one-of-a-kind venue with open air seating adjacent to the Iron Ore Heritage Trail System. It’s a historic preservation project that takes a community blighted property and converts it into a modern use restoring its former glory.

UP Brewing Company Pitch – SmartPrize 2016



1 Expand Sign-Hang your sign without nails 2 Expand sign in forest 3 sign hanger front view 4 sign hanger left profile on tree 5 sign with sign hanger back of sign left

Exhibit: Eco Friendly Outdoor Advertising

Upfront-10092015Location: Marquette Downtown Development Authority, 203 S Front St –  The purpose of the Authority is to “halt property value deterioration and increase property tax valuation…to eliminate the causes of that deterioration, and to promote economic growth.” Downtown Marquette represents the historic center of our City. Many of our buildings are historically significant – and should be preserved to highlight our City’s past. The downtown is a reflection of how the community sees itself… a critical factor in business retention and recruitment. The downtown represents a significant portion of the City’s tax base. If the district declines, its property values decline, and it increases the tax burden on other parts of the city. The downtown is a major tourist draw. When people come into Marquette, they want to see a unique place. There isn’t another downtown like ours in the world! The downtown is a major business center, representing the largest concentration of businesses in the area. The downtown is a prominent employment center – employing nearly 2,000 people.

Hours Open for Viewing:  Mon Sat 7am to 7pm

Exhibitor: Expand Farm Products, Steve Nelson

Community: Iron River, Michigan

Summary: Expand Farm Products, LLC designed and patented an easy-to-use sign mounting bracket for hanging signs to live trees and posts without damage.  This new style Sign Hanger can be used in applications where nail use is impractical or prohibited. “Eco Friendly Outdoor Advertising” appeals to a wide variety of purposes including trail marking, and signage for real estate companies, political campaigning, business advertising, property management, and community events.

Expand Pitch – SmartPrize 2016




Exhibit: Project Pegasus – Winner of Start-Up Category $5,250, Winner of Crowd Favorite $2,000

Peter White Public Library in downtown Marquette Michigan.

Location: Peter White Library Gallery

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Thu 10am – 9pm, Fri 10am – 6pm, Sat 10am – 5pm, Closed Sunday

Exhibitor: Wahmhoff Technologies L.L.C.

Community: Baraga, Michigan

Summary: Pegasus is a high-capacity long-range drone for emergency first response that can bring life saving devices to an emergency situation within minutes while typical first response measures take much longer. Pegasus is a first of its kind gas powered drone —  10’X10′, 20blade, 60Lb piece of flying technology that easily turns heads and sparks conversation!

Project Pegasus Pitch – SmartPrize 2016



Category: Growth – Implementation Phase


KCbonkers store in Houghton MI KCbonkers kids at play KCbonkers store in Houghton - coffee bar KCbonkers fooling around

Exhibit: K.C. Bonker’s Toys & Coffee

dead-river-coffee-shopLocation: Dead River Coffee Roaster, 119 W. Baraga Avenue –

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon-Fri 7am – 6pm, Sat 9am-6pm. Closed Sunday.

Exhibitors: Clay Hilman, Adrienne Hilman, Kelsey Carriere, Justin Carriere

Community: Hancock, Michigan

Summary: K.C. Bonker’s Toys & Coffee is an exciting new retail concept for downtown Hancock, Michigan, offering specialty toys and games for all ages and gourmet coffee services including espresso drinks, coffee, custom Italian sodas, candy, snacks, and an atmosphere that is truly one-of-a-kind. K.C. Bonker’s provides an environment for investigation and enjoyment for all ages. It offers a wide variety of unique and creative toys and games intended to encourage growth on cognitive and social levels, inspire imagination, as well as improve dexterity and hand-eye coordination. The environment is warm and inviting, animated and intriguing, safe and engaging. K.C. Bonker’s offers the following benefits and unique services: • A whimsical, playful, captivating atmosphere • Hands-on environment for children • Friendly, knowledgeable, customer service with an understanding of products and toys appropriate for child development stages • Eclectic selection of toys with long-term play value • Engaging play stations geared toward building and nurturing imagination • Game nights and workshops • Hosting tournaments for niche interests like backgammon, chess, marbles, etc. • Venue for high quality, locally made toys • Comfortable seating throughout the store to provide a resting place for parents while they watch their children play • Clean, classy, inspiring environment with a unique character to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend • Fresh, locally brewed coffee to-go.

KC Bonkers Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


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Exhibit: FlowerWorks Public Greenhouse Venue

storefront1 Location: FlowerWorks, 1007 N Third St – Flower Works LLC is a local flower shop dedicated to providing fresh and creatively-designed flower arrangements and high-quality plants to the Marquette community. We are passionate about bringing the benefits of green spaces to homes and offices and hope to foster a connection to nature by opening our greenhouse up as a public rental venue.

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon-Fri 8:30am – 6pm, Sat 8:30am – 4pm, Sun  April 3rd 12pm – 4pm

Exhibitor: Andrea Forsberg – Exhibitor is displaying at own Venue

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: Flower Works is passionate about bringing the benefits of green spaces to everyone. Our greenhouse is centrally located in downtown Marquette, easily accessible and perfect for group events, meetings, classes, or workshops. Our Greenhouse is a beautiful, naturally-lighted space that can foster a closeness to nature, while providing protection from the unpredictable elements of the UP. There is so much potential in this historical space, and we would like to share it with others to not only grow our business, but the uniqueness in our local community. We would like to offer this opportunity to give people a beautiful space to cultivate creativity and strong friendships.

Green House Venue Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


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Exhibit: Superior Nature Skincare and Healthy Products

Donckers Donckersfront Location: Donckers, 137 W. Washington St. –  Donckers is both a candy store and restaurant with year-round foot traffic. We pride ourselves on excellent service, product and presentation. Our atmosphere can be described as family friendly and retro-esque fun. Donckers is customer oriented. A fun energetic atmosphere mixed with excellent presentation is of upmost importance to the business and staff. We try to have fun with marketing, whether it may be word of mouth, social media, or anything else, making an experience of every visit to our business is key!

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon-Sat 7am – 8pm, Sun 8am – 4pm

Exhibitor: Marla Vancheck

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: Superior Nature was developed to offer a natural, whole, alternative, reasonably priced skincare and healthy products without harmful chemicals. We at Superior Nature want to see beautiful results and bring the pure pride here to our beloved Upper Peninsula and the shores of Lake Superior, hence the name! Our short term goal is to start distributing our FRUIT STEM CELL TREATMENT through local and internet sales. We use fruit stem cells and Plantago Major that we harvest locally. Our 5-year plan is to purchase acreage within Marquette County to grow and harvest Plantago Major. We also plan to supply other natural supplements, herbs, and holistic products both locally and nationally. An example is Royal Jelly from bees, which are so important for our Green Earth! Within 5 years we plan to have 5 full-time employees for customer service, harvesting, packaging, and other business operations. I believe our exhibit will be selected because of the information about natural organic skincare and the demonstration of toxicities, by using ionic detox. These toxins are absorbed through our skin from our environment and products with chemicals.

Superior Nature Pitch – SmartPrize 2016

Title of Exhibit: Building an Agricultural Economy – Winner of Growth Category $7,500

patioLocation: Ore Dock Brewing Company, 114 West Spring Street,  Ore Dock Brewing Company is a recognized community gathering space, providing a venue for friends, families, organizations and businesses to come together since 2012. The space is versatile and its energy interactive, encouraging visitors and voters to immerse themselves in your conceptualized service and products. In addition to serving as the location for SmartSummit’s Monday night event, Ore Dock will be hosting its annual Angry Bear Festival, a celebration and release of barrel aged beer, on Saturday, April 9. The festival draws upward of 1,000 locals and visitors throughout its 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. time frame – the perfect opportunity to draw inspiration from a few pints and vote for a favorite entry. A virtual tour of the tap room and community space can be viewed at:

Hours Open for Viewing: Sun – Thurs 12pm – 11 pm, Fri – Sat 12pm – 1am

Name of Exhibitor: Partridge Creek Farm

Community: Ishpeming, Marquette County, Michigan

Summary: Build a community farm per year. Integrate with the schools and Headstart and Great Lakes Recovery centers to provide education in farming nutrition and value added food processing and preservation. Build opportunities and educate the community in the economy of local food production. We will develop the local food culture that many businesses in Marquette promote.

Partridge Farm Pitch – SmartPrize 2016




Exhibit: Revolutions Community Bike Shop

revolutionsimageLocation: Revolutions, 130 W Washington Street –  Revolutions is centrally located in downtown Marquette, with a mission of “empowering and supporting youth and our community through bicycles.” Pulling ideas from numerous successful bicycle non-profits, co-ops and programs around the country, Revolutions is a unique blend that fits the bike love and active lifestyles of people in our community.

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Wed 10am – 5pm, Thu – Fri 10am – 6pm, Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 12pm – 4pm

Exhibitors: Lindsay Bean, Mark Hall

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: Revolutions is a non-profit community bike shop. We offer memberships for individuals to use the workshop to repair their own bikes. We offer classes on bike repair (among other topics) for kids and adults. We refurbish bikes and donate them back into the community to people who need bikes (we ask for no proof of “need”, just ask for one). As our primary source of funding, we run a used outdoor gear and bike shop. We take in donations and buy or consign items to be resold in the store. This provides an inexpensive option for people on a budget or beginners. Additionally, by purchasing items from individuals, we put money back into our community. Our organization also works to promote cycling (and other outdoor activities) as healthy exercise and transportation.

Revolutions Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


nestledown_home_01bedroom food nestledown

Exhibit: Nestledown Bed & Breakfast

Views of Washington Street in downtown Marquette Michigan.Location: Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 117 W Washington St –  Travel Marquette is the visitors bureau for Marquette County, Michigan. Our lobby has local and regional information, free wi-fi, comfortable seating and beverages. Get your SmartPrize map and voting guide here at our office and vote for Crowd Favorite!

Hours Open for Viewing: Mon – Fri 9am – 6pm, Sat and Sun 12pm – 4pm

Exhibitors: Sue and Ken Schauland

Community: Marquette, Michigan

Summary: Purpose built, owner occupied bed and breakfast Inn for travelers to Marquette Michigan with a Finnish/Scandinavian inspired design, reflecting the heritage of the Inn Keepers and Upper Michigan’s immigrant past. The actual inn is located at 975 N. Lakeshore Blvd in Marquette. Our exhibit will allow viewers to touch and see our bed style, experience the light and refreshing Scandinavian vibe we offer and learn the details of building a bed and breakfast business from concept through city zoning, brownfield and DEQ requirements to the dressing and opening of the Inn. What is it like to be new Inn Keepers and reviews from our first guests will be shown. Our display will be pretty and catch the eye drawing people in to see what is going on. I plan to set up a twin size mattress with our unique duvet/comforter linens on top of a rectangle folding table 30″X6ft. I will use the top of the made up bed to rest a few images of what we do. I will have a poster showing our timeline/steps of development and on a small table tucked under the bed our business plan, PUD and Brownfield information. In my Scandinavian way I will be frugal with space and keep it clean and simple. I would like to sample our Pulla (Cardamon bread) on key days that I will be at the display.

Nestle Down Pitch – SmartPrize 2016


Plan Your Trip

 The waterfront of Marquette, Mich. at dawn.

Book a Marquette County hotel and enjoy special SmartPrize and SmartSummit nightly rates between April 1 and April 15, 2017. Be sure to specify “SmartPrize Rate.”


A waitress pours a Blueberry Wheat Ale at The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery in downtown Marquette Michigan.

 Dine          Explore          View

From Pictured Rocks to Big Bay Point Lighthouse, our stretch of Lake Superior offers a natural break from the mundane.  While exploring the wonders of Marquette County, you won’t want to miss these unforgettable Marquette County experiences.


A female mountain biker rides the Noquemanon Trails Network's Gorgeous Trail along the Carp River in Marquette, Michigan.Singletrack Network

Bring or rent a mountain bike to ride the popular south trails. With just the right combination of jumps, drops and rocks, this Bronze IMBA singletrack network has helped make Marquette County, Michigan a mountain bike Mecca.





A mountain biker on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail that connects communities in Marquette County, Michigan.Iron Ore Heritage Trail

The Iron Ore Heritage Trail stretches nearly 50 miles from the Michigamme area to Chocolay Township. It is host to a variety of popular events and nationally recognized as a silent-sports destination. But it’s also great for a leisurely stroll through the woods or along the lakeshore.





Trail running with evening light and fall color atop Hogback Mountain near Marquette, Michigan on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Mountain Vistas

Hike to one of our amazing Huron Mountain overlooks.

The view from the top of Hogback Mountain is spectacular: Lake Superior to one side, deep highland forests to the other, Marquette in the middle distance, and occasional glimpses of the Keweenaw highlands and Pictured Rocks on crystal-clear days.




Fourth of July fireworks over Lake Superior at Marquette Michigan.Cool Cities

When not on the trails or cheering an outdoor event, enjoy craft beer, artisan cuisine and shopping in the vibrant downtown districts throughout Marquette County. Choose from a variety of lodging that fits your tastes and budget, from full-service to economy.








Embrace your natural identity in Marquette County. Visit

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SmartPrize Judges Panel

Judges Panel for Concept, Start-up and Growth Categories

Growth– In the implementation phase –has not generated revenue in excess of $500,000: $7,500 plus $10,000 in radio advertising 

Start­up – In the development phase – has received financial commitments in excess of $5,000 but less than $500,000: $5,250 plus $2500 in legal services

Concept – Still in the idea phase – has not received financial commitments in excess of $5,000: $2,250


headshot_schuetter Gregory Schuetter, Senior Vice President, Upper Peninsula Commercial Lending Manager, mBank. Shuetter has over 12 years banking experience. As SVP/Upper Peninsula Commercial Lending Manager, Schuetter leads the commercial banking team in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  He is responsible for all commercial banking activities including customer relationship management and overseeing the Upper Peninsula commercial loan portfolio. He joined mBank in 2005 and was most recently responsible for commercial loan management in the Eastern UP. Schuetter is a graduate of Ferris State University and the Perry School of Banking.

Victor Harrington_0006_final Victor Harrington, Regional Director, Marketing and Business Development, UP Health System. Victor is a big fan of marketing, technology and business. As the Regional Director of Marketing and Business Development at UP Health System, he is responsible for marketing, communications, community outreach, business development and strategic growth initiatives. He is a U.P. native, a 2008 graduate of Finlandia University and has been in the healthcare industry for 8 years. Victor can also be seen on the hardwood officiating High School and NCAA basketball games.

J. McGonigle- gray John McGonigle, CEO, Eagle Mine. John McGonigle is the CFO at Eagle Mine. He has over 20 years’ experience, on 3 different continents, which focused on the business side of mining. He is a logical thinker with an easy going personality that allows him to focus on business sustainability and continuous improvement. On a personal note he is married to Anna and has 5 great children and he enjoys sporting activities including golf.

Jen-Nelson Jennifer Nelson, Executive Vice President, Chief Business Development Officer of Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Ms. Nelson is focused on providing the tools to assist job creation and investment by retaining and growing Michigan businesses, maintaining and strengthening our global automotive leadership, growing value-added agriculture and natural resource economy, accelerating manufacturing innovation, growing Michigan Exports, delivering key entrepreneurial and economic gardening services, aggressive national and international business attraction, and protecting and growing our defense-related industries. Prior to joining the MEDC, Ms. Nelson served as an attorney with the Dykema Gossett law firm and was a member of its Public Finance Corporate Group. In that capacity, her practice focused on corporate, real estate, public finance and commercial loan transactions, private investment deals and areas of economic development. Ms. Nelson graduated from Northern Michigan University, Magna Cum Laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree, Speech Communication. She received her law degree from Michigan State University – College of Law, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Artist Beth Millner at her Marquette, Michigan studio and retail space. Beth Millner, Entrepreneur and Owner of Beth Millner Jewelry. Beth Millner designs jewelry with strong nature themes inspired by the scenic landscapes of the Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior in sterling silver, mixed metals, Michigan copper and Michigan gemstones. While in her last year of college, she started displaying at art fairs, opened an online Etsy shop and taught silversmithing classes in Marquette.  Beth graduated from NMU with a BFA in metals in 2008 and launched her home-based jewelry business. In 2012, Beth opened a storefront, Beth Millner Jewelry, in downtown Marquette, Michigan where currently has five employees assisting in the shop and studio. Beth is involved with the Marquette community by serving on the Marquette Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Directors for Northern Initiatives and has been a judge for Art on the Rocks.

Thomas Kilpela, Engineer and Innovator. Thomas Kilpela, previously with Pioneer Surgical (now RTI Surgical) as VP of Research & New Business Development, with twenty years of experience in medical device product development / new business development and an integral part of growing the company from seed stage to a feared and respected competitor in the ortho space.  Since Pioneer he has partnered with some elite local talent to create 3 new business entities: 1) Path2Market LLC, president and founder poised to lead all levels of clients to a successful commercialization path by focusing on strategy, funding, and technical and customer diligence and business mentors 2) BioTech Navigators LLC, founder and managing partner, again focused on building tech based products and businesses with additional deployable assets around IP and regulatory compliance  3) Marquette Ventures LLC, founder and managing partner, investing in and providing guidance to early stage technology companies.  He is also a founder, and board member of the  Innovation Shore Angel Network a platform business investment group to help support the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the UP and Michigan.  ISAN provides the entrepreneurs; access to capital, industry connections and talent, experienced mentors and investors, guidance to alternative funding options.   In addition Tom is also a certified Wendy Kennedy Inc. commercialization coach and has experience as a business mentor in the University of Michigan ICorps program designed to foster, grow and nurture an innovation ecosystem.


Judges for Best Tourism-Related in Marquette County – $3,000

Ryan LaMere, Co-Owner of several of Ishpeming’s Country Village properties including the Magnuson Country Inn, Jasper Ridge Inn, Jasper Ridge Brewery and Country Grill. Involved in the tourism industry for nearly 20 years after graduating from Northern Michigan University in 1997 with a degree in business management. President of the Board of Directors of Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Involved in many different tourism and marketing organizations in the past. Married to Michelle and has 3 beautiful daughters.

Benton, Reed[1] Reed Benton, General Manager, Hampton Inn Marquette Waterfront, Board of Directors of Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau. A Marquette native, Reed graduated from Eastern Michigan University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in Hotel Restaurant Management in 2008. For the past ten years, Reed has worked in various management positions within the Marriott and Hilton chains. In 2012 Reed relocated to Marquette to open and operate the Award Winning Hampton Inn Marquette Waterfront.  Under Reeds Management, this hotel has received the Prestigious Light House Award for the past three years, and is ranked the #1 Hampton Inn in the state of Michigan and #12 in the entire chain. Reed is very active within the Marquette community and serves on various local boards including the Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Marquette Symphony Orchestra and Marquette Breakfast Rotary.  On a national level Reed is a member of the American Hotel Lodging Association and was named as a Brand Ambassador by Hilton Worldwide to lead and mentor other General Managers within his brand.  This position was given to the 25 top performing General Managers.

LindaStabile Linda Stabile, Owner of Superior Oasis Marquette, Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Linda and her husband Frank Stabile are the developers and owners of Superior Oasis in Marquette, which includes hotels Comfort Suites and Days Inn and restaurants Hudson’s and Perkins. Linda and Frank have been in the hospitality industry for 38 years. They started out in Escanaba where they owned and operated the Bay View Motel. Once they moved to Marquette, they owned and operated Michigamme Lake Lodge and the Days Inn. From there Linda and Frank have continued to grow their Superior Oasis operations. Linda has been a big supporter of the tourism industry in Marquette; she sits on the Travel Marquette County Tourism Board. Linda has also been a board member of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association for 28 years and counting.