Washtenaw Community College awards veterans $20,000 during field games

ann arbor – Six veterans were awarded $20,000 for their business ideas following Veterans Business Pitch and Showcase Night at Washtenaw Community College.

With the help of Grand Valley State University’s MVE-Labs, the competition was held at Ann Arbor Community College’s Entrepreneurship Center in early December.

First place winner, 24-year-old Phillip Burtell, took home $10,000 for his startup Elixir CNC. This small Saline manufacturing company provides automated manufacturing services. University officials say Burtell’s prize money will help him increase productivity and reduce production time by installing heat-treating furnaces and air compressors.

The Army veteran and WCC student, along with other competition participants, worked with coaches for three months during free sessions at the Michigan Veterans Entrepreneur Lab (MVE-Lab). The lab provides hands-on instruction and education for entrepreneurial veterans.

Senior business pitches and showcase night participants then pitched their ideas to the public and a group of business leaders at the showcase, officials said.

Other winners will share another $10,000 for their ideas. Winners include:

  • Mrs. Pruitt’s Gourmet CHA CHA: Linda Kay Pruitt

  • Veterans Shelter Foundation: Jacob Inman

  • Great American Pet Rescue: Suzette Dexter

  • Aligned Exhibits: Tia Sunshine Dye

  • B-positive: Giuseppe Del Giudice

“There are so many great programs. Every veteran’s story is incredible. It’s been a real honor to work with them,” Michelle Julet, director of WCC’s Center for Entrepreneurship, said in a release.

The WCC-based MVE-Lab is the program’s first focus on veterans in Ann Arbor.

“I’ve always had a passion for manufacturing,” Bertel said in a release, but added that he initially put his own business ideas aside.

After gaining industry experience with the Leapers, he joined the WCC and signed up for ballpark competition. He was able to show off his fabrication skills during the event.

“I think what might make me stand out at the show is that I’m already in the business; it’s not just an idea,” Burtell said. “I still have a lot to learn, but I’m able to show what my store looks like and who my customers are.”

The Entrepreneurship Center provides research assistance, workshops and other business resources to members of the entrepreneurial community, Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm.

Those with questions may contact the Center at 734-249-5880 or email entrepreneurship@wcnet.edu.

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