Five Mason County small business owners were chosen as finalists in the $50,000 Momentum Business Plan Competition, the Ludington and Scottville Chamber of Commerce announced Monday.

The five finalists are: Art by Mary Case, HumaniTea, Inspired Parties, Leta’s Educational Daycare and The Tailor Shop.

Each of the five will present their business plans in a “Shark Tank”-style event on May 17 at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts.

A panel of judges will decide the amount of prize money awarded to a contestant. Those participating in the final pitch competition may win any dollar amount up to $50,000.

The five finalists:

Art by Mary Case

Mary Case’s business includes a retail store and art gallery, as well as a studio which offers classes to all ages, from young children to senior adults. Case is hoping to make improvements to her building including additional classroom space and an improved restroom facility.


This business began with the owners’ passion for assisting the victims of human trafficking. Carmen Biggs and Chris Turnbull have opened this tea shop and artisan gift shop to generate consumer dollars to fund anti-human trafficking efforts. The duo hope to upgrade operations, as well as purchase AV equipment for community education and awareness events.

Inspired Parties

Sarah Stechschulte has been operating Inspired Parties for two and a half years. The business offers social art events, with a focus on step-by-step paintings and projects. Stechschulte is hoping to purchase a commercial building to keep the momentum of her business moving forward.

Leta’s Educational Daycare

Leta Bowman, owner of Leta’s Educational Childcare, prides herself in providing a clean and healthy environment for children’s success through care, faith and education at each child’s own pace. Her goal is to upgrade and expand her current facility on Washington Avenue.

The Tailor Shop

Owned by Tracy Sheid, the Tailor Shop has been in business in Ludington for two years. The company currently provides professional tailoring services and outsourced laundry and dry cleaning services. Sheid’s goal is to upgrade tailoring services and start her own laundry and dry cleaning business.

HumaniTea and Leta’s Educational Child Care were finalists for the event last fall, and HumaniTea received $2,500 as an impromptu prize. Previous winners include Sister Bees (2018), All Occasions Event and Floral (2017), KandyLand Dairy and Cremery (2016) and Starving Artist Brewing Company (2015).

Launched in 2015, the Momentum Business Plan Competition awarded one business entrepreneur a prize of $50,000 to start or move an early-stage business to Mason County. Funded by Pennies from Heaven Foundation and administered by the Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, the competition is open to eligible independent for-profit or non-profit ventures with a viable business idea, plan or invention; or existing organizations or companies with less than $250,000 in sales or revenue annually.

The competition idea was spearheaded by Pennies from Heaven Foundation founder John Wilson, who was searching for a way to foster and grow the existing entrepreneurial spirit of Mason County, where he made his business mark. Additional support is provided by the Chamber, Ludington Daily News, Metalworks, West Shore Community College and West Shore Bank — who all share a passion for entrepreneurism and the Mason County community.

The Momentum Pitch Night is free and open to the public to attend. It will begin at 5 p.m. at LACA, 107 S. Harrison St. in Ludington, with an opportunity to meet the finalists. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served following the businesses pitches.

The Managing Editor for the Ludington Daily News since June 2018 and on the staff since Oct. 2011, taking over for legendary Lloyd Wallace. Previously with The Chippewa Herald in Chippewa Falls, Wis., and the Tuscola County Advertiser in Caro.