CHARLEVOIX — Kaila Thomas’ plan to open a new delicatessen in downtown East Jordan was selected Wednesday as the winner of the $10,000 grand prize in the third annual Green Light East Jordan Business Model Competition.
The competition, involving 11 finalist entries, took place at Castle Farms in Charlevoix.
Thomas plans to open her business, South Arm Market, in available space in East Jordan’s new Cannonball LLC building at the corner of Mill and Main streets before the end of the year. She intends to serve locally grown meats and goods along with gourmet sandwiches, pizzas, salads and seasonal soups. Additionally, Thomas plans to offer catering for special events and holidays, and eventually offer local wines and beers.
In her presentation, Thomas said using locally sourced products will be a key component of the business.
Thomas said she’s had been considering starting a deli for about four years, but those plans were put on hold when she became the mother of twin boys.
Then, she said, within the past year, the combination of finding an investor to help her with startup costs and her boys starting school this fall, made for the perfect time for her to resume pursuing her dream deli.
She said the availability of the space in the new Cannonball building downtown was a key piece of her developing plan.
“At first I thought about doing a food truck thing, because I didn’t know where would be (a good location.) It’s a brand-new building. And with my background as a designer, when I saw the building, I could just picture everything I wanted there. It’s little, but its big enough. It’s got enough space and its in a good location,” Thomas said.
She said she plans to use the prize money to pay for equipment and fixtures for the business. She hopes to have the business open before Christmas.
Both the second place award of $2,500 and the crowd vote award of $500 went to Hops and Props Boat Works, an antique and wooden boat restoration shop combined with a family-friendly taproom-style pub overlooking Lake Charlevoix.
The third place award of $1,000 went to Adventure Sports North which is planning an annual adventure triathlon, dubbed “R3” (Ride, Run, River) that will showcase local natural beauty, attract people to the area and promote a healthy lifestyle. The event will have participants cycling for 15 miles, running 2.5 miles, and paddling the Jordan River to the finish line in downtown East Jordan.
The $1,000 student award went to 15-year-old Aurelius Krumholtz’s Kid Kart Vending. The business involves small vending carts available for rental for youth fundraising campaigns and special events. Aurelius said he used a food cart.
The five-member panel of judges who chose the winners included Jennifer Boyer, corporate quality manager for Burnette Foods; Cameron Brunet-Koch, president of North Central Michigan College; Tom Teske, vice president and general manager of the Americas for EJ; Ed Grice, president/general manager at Boyne Mountain Resort; and WTCM radio host Ron Jolly.
The first and second place winners now qualify to compete against eight other businesses for a total of $25,000 in prize money at the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance’s Grand Event slated for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at North Central Michigan College.
That competition will include a $15,000 grand prize and will pit South Arm Market and Hops and Props from the East Jordan competition against the top two finishers in a similar Cheboygan-area competition, Invest Cheboygan, which is slated for Nov. 1 at the Cheboygan Opera House. The remaining six slots will be selected by organizers from among at-large applicants from the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance’s service area, which includes Emmet, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Antrim counties.
For more information on the Grand Event, contact the alliance at (231) 582-6482, or visit the organization’s website at www.northernlakes.net.