Unique proposals presented at business plan competition

Alex Belz

Five finalists of the New Business Venture Competition will compete this Thursday to test their entrepreneurial ideas before five business owners from the Upper Peninsula.

The competition lets students submit plans for creating new businesses. It was started in 2008 to encourage business creation in the U.P. First prize for the competition is $4,000 and second prize is $2,500.

“Our big picture is to help the regional economic development,” said Charles Wolfe, an instructor of entrepreneurship at NMU. “The competition is just one way to do that.”

Last fall, 23 students submitted proposals. Five were selected to be finalists in the competition.

“We had a number of really solid entries this year, a number of really intriguing ideas,” said Wolfe.

Finalist Christina Brazinski, a graduate student majoring in elementary education, proposed designing and selling a line of handmade clothes for winter weather. She said her designs serve the need for warm clothing while still looking fahsionable.

“I think it fills an actual need that isn’t already filled by a product,” said Brazinski. “I think people out there are either choosing a fashion item or a performance item. There’s not something that fills both needs at once.”

Another idea is that of finalist Brittney Alden, a senior majoring in economics, who has been developing her plan for a year. Her plan is to make and sell ice-cream cakes in the Marquette area.

“It’s an unmet need here, because people can’t get them fresh and they can’t have them decorated to their needs. It’s not made to customer satisfaction,” said Alden. “I’m ready for this; this is what I’m most prepared for. I know it’s supposedly risky in this economy. People say, why would you do that? I have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t work.”

Finalist Justin Carlson said he wants to provide environmentally sensitive lawn service with his business Clean Cutters Lawn Care. He said that according to the EPA, four percent of air pollution is caused by gas powered lawn equipment.

“As opposed to our competition, (Clean Cutters Lawn Care) would be the only business that I know of in Marquette County that offers fully electric lawn care,” said Carlson. “The trend of lawn care is going to keep growing, so we feel we want to take advantage of this now.”

Finalist Alysa Diebolt, a sophomore marketing major, has a plan to sell fused glass pieces. She has been creating and selling them since she was fourteen, touring art sales and craft venues across Michigan and Wisconsin selling her work.