St. Clair County, Michigan

The I-69 Thumb Region, a seven county partnership, announces the launch of the 2018 I-69 Thumb Region’s Catapult Small Business Competition.   This unique competition is both local and regional.  Each of the seven counties in the I-69 Thumb Region will host a local competition, with first place winners advancing to the regional competition.  There will be cash prizes for the local and regional winners totaling $30,000.

The I-69 Thumb Region Catapult Small Business Competition aims to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners to start or grow their small businesses. The I-69 Thumb Region includes Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair and Tuscola.

Each of the seven participating counties will hold a county level competition in their community via a public pitch event awarding $2,000 to the first place winner and $1,000 to the second place winner.  County-level first place winners will move forward to compete for additional funds in the finale to take place at the I-69 Thumb Regional Summit on January 24, 2019. 

The regional competition will award (via public pitch) $5,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place.  Competition prizes have been made possible by grant funding through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and additional sponsors.

Interested companies or individuals may apply online for St. Clair County’s local competition by answering a few questions about their proposed new business venture or existing business.  For full details or to apply, visit:  www.startunderground.com

Once the online application is complete, competitors have until November 1 to send their maximum 3-page executive summary and pitch presentation of not more than 10 slides.  Competition judges will review and narrow the submissions down to no more than six per local pitch event(s) to be held throughout December.    

The Small Business Development Center and The Underground business incubator will be providing support to applicants that need technical assistance, help writing the required executive summary or presentation coaching.

“We’re excited to bring this competition to entrepreneurs in the region once again,” said Dan Casey, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County.  “Last year’s regional winner, Smart Shelf LLC, has successfully launched its business due to the support and grant funds it received.  We think that all of the competitors will benefit from the support they receive, so I encourage entrepreneurs to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Catapult Small Business Competition Timeline:


September 26
Application Period Opens  (Complete online application anytime, then send supporting materials by November 1)

November 1
Application Period Closes (Last day for entries, executive summary and presentations to be submitted)

November 5-9
Applications Reviewed

November 12
Top 6 Finalists Announced

December 6
St. Clair County Local Business Pitch Event & Prize Night 

January 24
I-69 Thumb Region - Regional Business Pitch Event @ I-69 Annual Summit

- Your small business must be located in St. Clair County (or within the I-69 Thumb region county you wish to compete) 

- Eligible applicants are individuals wishing to start a business within the next six months or existing small businesses.  A small business has 20 or fewer employees with existing revenue of less than $400,000.  Former finalists of previous Catapult competitions are ineligible, other previous applicants (non-finalists/presenters) are welcome to apply.