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Best of the Zest Food Pitch Competition

New, small, food producers compete for free assistance from Macomb County and its partners.

Young woman holding a tray of cupcakes, pop cans in a production line, treats being made, Best of the Zest image

When it comes to food, are you the Best of the Zest?

Are you a small Macomb County packaged food or beverage producer looking to expand your operations and take your business to the next level? Then apply for the Best of the Zest Food Pitch Competition.


The application process is now open and will close at 5 p.m., July 25, 2024. All applications will be reviewed, and the top 10 selected businesses will be notified by Aug. 8 to participate in a pitch competition. Those finalists will compete at Velocity on Aug 22 from 9 a.m. to noon by providing a five-minute “pitch” on why they are the Best of the Zest. Winners will be announced by Aug. 27.

What is a pitch?

A pitch is like a commercial that shares your business plan. A pitch is a helpful tool when talking to a buyer, investor, or loan officer, requiring you to share your business details in a condensed way.

Who is eligible?

Eligible businesses include:

  • Packaged food producers that create products from raw materials, either for distribution or face-to-face sales. Can include beverage companies.
  • Must be one of the following: 
  • Been in business since at least June 11, 2022. Located in Macomb County and has a brick-and-mortar facility with a commercial kitchen. No home businesses
  • Have less than $1 million in annual revenue. Copies of your Profit or Loss statement and W-9 are required.
  • Have 10 employees or less, not including the owners
  • Are in good standing with LARA (state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) and have a MDARD (Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) license. (Proof is required)

How do you sign up?

The application process is open now through 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 25. To apply for the competition, you must fill out an application. Any missing documents could result in disqualification.

How does it work?

All applications will be reviewed and scored. The top 10 finalists will be invited to  present a five-minute “pitch,” which will be followed by a five-minute Q&A session between the judges and the participant. Winners will be announced by Aug. 27.

You've been selected to 'pitch' your product

If you made it to the top 10, you have five minutes to pitch your product. Here are some helpful tips as you prepare for Aug 22.

  • Summarize your business (keep in mind, judges will have background provided in application)
  • Explain barriers to growing the business
  • Describe your future plans for your business and how you would use the funding or services to get there
  • If you received funding or services to grow your business would you need to hire additional staff
  • Summarize the needs to move the business to the next level
  • Powerpoint slides and poster boards can be used during the pitch. Video cannot be included. 

And if you win?

Eligible businesses will be competing for a chance to win grants or technical assistance that can be used on marketing, packaging, labeling and testing services, counseling and small business programming. Six winners will be chosen.

  • One awardee will receive up to $10,000 in direct grants through Velocity that can be used to support their business operations or growth needs. The recipient can use the money to buy equipment, pay the lease, or receive paid services from our partner agencies to help its business grow. The winner will need to attend a 1:1 coaching session with Velocity’s Entrepreneur in Residence prior to receiving the grant.
  • Two awardees will receive up to $5,000 in grants from Velocity to use towards services or other business expenses. The awardee will need to attend a 1:1 coaching session with Velocity’s Entrepreneur in Residence to receive the grant.
  • One awardee will receive services through our list of partners up to $5,000 to grow their business. Funded by Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC).
  • Two awardees will receive up to $3,500 in services from Macomb County Planning and Economic Development partners. 
  • One awardee will receive $1,500 in services through the Michigan Good Food Fund at MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. The awardee will work with the team to receive the service package.

The support services that a business may receive are subject to change based on individual business needs.

Our partners

  • Macomb Community College
  • MSU Center for Regional Food Systems 
  • MSU Product Center
  • Pure Michigan Business Connect
  • Taste the Local Difference
  • Velocity Center


Questions about the competition can be directed to MCPED Economic Development Specialist Emerson Krolewski at or call 586-942-0913.

Funding sources

This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP0127 awarded to Sterling Heights Local Development Finance Authority (“LDFA” or “Velocity”) by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and powered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.