Nov. 12 2009 12:00 AM

Expo highlights Michigan-made products

Jessica Mindell, founder of Jessica's Natural Foods, shows off her flavors of gluten free granola at the Making it in Michigan expo at the Lansing Center. Photo by Megan Peters/City Pulse

Sue Spagnuolo has 18 goats. They’re not pets, they’re a working part of her local dairy business at Greenbush Farms in St. Johns, where she milks the goats and makes milk products right on the farm.

Spagnuolo was one of about 50 Michigan based business owners who took part in the Making it in Michigan expo at the Lansing Center on Wednesday. The event featured speakers, an awards ceremony and educational sessions for local business owners, as well as a marketplace that provided a chance for them to promote and sell their products.
“There are a lot of good things here in Michigan, and this is a nice venue to get it out and let people know there’s good stuff here,” Spagnuolo said.

She gave out samples of various flavors of goat cheese she produces on her farm, including a chocolate chip flavored cheese with a graham cracker for those with a sweet tooth.

A wide variety of products were displayed at the expo, with vendors handing out samples of everything from pumpkin pie to coconut lime scented lotion. Jelly, coffee, granola, various meats, cinnamon rolls and muffins were just a sampling of the products on hand.

Jessica Mindell, who started Jessica’s Natural Foods, a line of gluten free granola based in Birmingham, said she enjoys the community shared with local vendors and getting to meet and learn from people who have businesses like hers. Mindell started her business five months ago, and she said she has met many people at expos like this since then. “We’re all supporting each other," she said. "It’s a great way to connect and meet people in the community."

Organic foods, like Mindell’s, were commonplace at the marketplace, including Robin Green’s milk-free, egg-free and gluten-free muffins. Green started her business, Midge’s Muffins, three years ago, and has six different flavors. Green said she started her business as a way to support the Michigan economy as well as her family. “It boosts the economy; the more I grow, the more employees I can incorporate and help support other families,” she said.

Lansing businesses represented included Paramount Coffee, who brews their coffee in downtown Lansing and has been operating since 1935. Paramount sales executive Lindsay Horner said it was great to see so many local businesses being supported, particularly in today's difficult economy.

Walking through the aisles, market goers were greeted by vendors from all over the state, all with common goals of supporting the state. Horner said the event was a good way to bring all these businesses together and promote Michigan. “It’s good to see all these small businesses together to keep people in business and in Michigan,” she said.