The fourth annual Pure Michigan Agribusiness Summit March 9 will focus on connecting local Michigan growers, producers and manufacturers of consumable goods to purchasing companies and institutional buyers in the state.
This full day of matchmaking is put on by Pure Michigan Business Connect and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and is a platform linking buyers to Michigan growers and processors. The event is at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bobby Chasnis, development and operations manager for Pure Michigan Business Connect, says, “We canvass groups of purchasers like Meijer, Whole Foods, Kroger, Busch’s, Harding’s Markets, Food Bank Council, sheriff departments, etc., and ask them to provide us with any “needs” they are currently looking for. After providing us with needs including apples, USDA beef, poultry, blueberries, snacks, we post them on an online application.
Thousands of Michigan suppliers can then log on and complete a form to request a one-on-one meeting with that purchaser on the day of the summit. Applications are due Feb. 23, and Chasnis says staff will be busy packaging the submissions and sending them to each purchaser to make selections on who to schedule the 20-minute, one-on-one meetings with. After the purchasers select suppliers, staff coordinates setting up as many as 250 prescheduled meetings. Purchasers and suppliers are notified of the time and place of their meetings, and take care of all the logistics and communications.
“On the day of the event, we have more than 350-plus suppliers attend and meet with more than 30 purchasers,” says Chasnis, who notes the event is open only to Michigan companies (as a supplier) and open to anyone that would like to purchase more from the state.
“Almost every purchaser also staffs a table on the concourse, with their needs displayed by their booth for suppliers to walk around and speak about their products. The suppliers are invited to attend and bring samples or marketing materials to help their pitch to purchasers,” he adds.
The entire event is completely free of charge, and programming is provided in the morning, as well as breakfast and lunch. To see a video of the previous year’s event, visit YouTube.
“The event is such a great opportunity for small and midsize farmers and producers to connect with real opportunities,” says Chasnis. “We’ve had attendees secure contracts in excess of $100,000 from contacts they made at our summit, so the ROI is there. Our biggest issue is reaching the suppliers and farmers throughout the state.”
You can register for the Pure Michigan Agribusiness Summit online. For more information about the free event, call Chasnis at 517-599-4074.