Economic Development, Retail, and Small Business & Startups

Urban partners launch storefront pitch contest

March 13, 2017
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3rd Street downtown Muskegon
Storefronts line 3rd Street in downtown Muskegon. Courtesy Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

A lakeshore city is inviting retailers to apply for a pitch competition and a chance to win $15,000 in business services and six months of free rent.

The Muskegon Innovation Hub at Grand Valley State University, Downtown Muskegon Now and the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce announced last week 321! Go — a pitch competition they will host April 13 at the Muskegon Innovation Hub.

Downtown Muskegon Now said the partners will accept applications through March 17.

Guidelines and prizes

The competition is open to nonprofit, for-profit, startup, established and expanding retailers of all types. Restaurants that need a commercial kitchen are not eligible.

The competition partners will select up to five finalists from eligible applicants for the pitch event. The winning retail business selected by a panel of business experts will need to be ready to open in Midtown Muskegon in June and operate for 18 months or longer.

The winner will receive accounting, architectural, design, legal, marketing and mentorship services valued at more than $15,000 and six months of free rent at 1144 Third St. in Midtown Muskegon, in a former auto dealership showroom and office owned by Grand Rapids entrepreneur Brad Martell.

“Brad has stepped up to support renewed retailing in downtown Muskegon as part of the rejuvenation of the 3rd Street Business District now called Midtown,” said Dave Alexander, executive director, Downtown Muskegon Now.

The winning retailer will need to negotiate a one-year lease with Martell after the six months free rent.

The contest's details and application are available online

Downtown redevelopment

Downtown Muskegon has been rebuilding its retail offerings since the closure and demolition of The Muskegon Mall more than 15 years ago.

It has rejuvenated its historic, arts and cultural institutions, in conjunction with hotels, conference space and annual downtown events.

With the construction of new residential developments, Alexander said the time is right to give downtown retailing a boost through the 321 Go! competition.

“The retail sector is in transition, and Muskegon is becoming a favorable location for all kinds of retail businesses wanting to take advantage of the community’s festivals and new activities, such as the Great Lakes cruise ship visits,” said Cindy Larsen, president, Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce.

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