Where are they now? Checking up on our 2016 winners
Building an Agricultural Economy- Growth Award
Ishpeming’s Partridge Creek Farm raked in the Growth Award, garnering $7,500 cash and
$10,000 in advertising credit from Eagle Radio. The pitch offered a solution to solving an arid
agriculture economy by integrating education, building farms downtown, and gaining
the cooperation of the community.
“Big agriculture has made food very cheap, but it’s not as good and it doesn’t see the value of having a local food economy and what that can do for our community,” says Dan Perkins, Partridge Creek Board Chairman.
The SmartPrize money assisted Partridge Creek farm with their managers’ payroll, intern
stipends, and projects that are not covered by grants. Dan Perkins says that this
year alone, they have built hands-on educational farm programs with Great Lakes Recovery
Center, HeadStart, and Ishpeming Schools. They’ve also worked with the youth volunteer services of
Michigamme Bible Camp and the KBIC youth group. And, they’ve collaborated with Transition
Marquette County to offer an educational series on local growing and nutrition. They even ran a
2-day program with the Ishpeming library summer reading group, built a 1/3 acre farm,
distributed thousands of pounds of farm-grown foods to volunteers and participants, and sold
some through the farmers markets. Partridge Creek Farm not only met the objectives of their
board, but continue to grow as well. They are hoping to hire a business manager and an
outreach coordinator sometime this year.
The Living Dock- Tourism Award
Smart Prize 2016 proved to be an exciting year in inventions and innovations, with a host of
bold, creative concepts and decisive designs. The Living Dock took the Tourism award bringing
in $3,000. The visionary collective of the non-profit organization, Ore Dock Boteco Center,
presented a design that seeks to provide the community with safe, sustainable year-round access to the Lower Harbor Ore Dock.
We conducted a followup interview with Gisele Duehring, who notified us that in October the
Living Dock received a letter of endorsement from the City of Marquette. “Next step,” she added, “we will meet about interpretation of the bottomlands agreement by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).”
Gisele noted that this may require some trips to Lansing, so some of the SmartPrize prize money will
help defray travel costs. “The bottomlands agreement interpretation or, if needed, modification, is crucial for
moving forward with our subsequent step. That step is to apply for grants to cover the expense
of a design costing exercise.”
Gisele mentioned that a second expenditure of SmartPrize prize money entails publicity, such
as Facebook boosts for some posts, magnets and stickers advertising giving opportunities,
signage for events, and website costs.
The Living Dock will be attending one of the UP200 crossings and handing out ‘hot docklette’
(hot chocolate), where they will have a banner and hand out stickers and/or magnets. They are
listed as a donation recipient via smile.amazon.com and Thrivent Inc.’s Thrivent Choice program.
Additionally, people can donate directly via their website, http://oredockboteco.org/
“So you see, through the stickers, signage, Facebook posting boosts, and website, we are
spending money to make money… The positive exposure and vote of confidence SmartPrize
provided Ore Dock BotEco Center is invaluable, and the prize money is vitalizing! We
appreciate all the hard work that made SmartPrize possible!” says Gisele.
The Pegasus Project – Start-Up and Crowd Favorite Winner
Project Pegasus, Crowd Favorite and winner of the Start-up category is a concept conceived and created by Chris Wahmhoff of Wahmhoff Technologies in Baraga, Michigan. The project is a gas powdered, long-range drone that not only can fly up to 200mph, but can carry 200 pounds simultaneously. The drone is made to deliver medical devices and supplies within minutes of receiving an emergency call, resulting in reduced time in reaching a victim. Pegasus raked in 1,799 votes of 5,829 total votes, earning Crowd Favorite cash in the amount of $2,000. The Start-Up Award brought in another $5,250 and $2,500 in attorney advice through Varnum Law.
The prize money for Project Pegasus has gone into both machinery and engineering parts in the shop to further develop the project, while some money has been saved and set aside for travel. Chris notes that he may have found a strategic manufacturing partner willing to put up the $1.2 million for a production plan, and said he is even starting to get excited, as he has been selected as one out of seven for final review and potential funding from the military. When asked about his vision for the future of Project Pegagus, Chris states that he has to “tip-toe” with his response as far as what he can publicly address at the moment. But he did mention that if all goes smoothly, “Something big is gonna happen.”
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