Vendors, attendees converge on Cannabusiness Michigan Summit

Held at Soaring Eagle Casino

For people looking to succeed and expand in the marijuana industry, the Cannabusiness Industrial Marketplace Michigan Summit and Expo is the place to be this week.

On Tuesday, about 150 vendors from the industry descended on Mount Pleasant at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort for the start of a two-day event, where industry hopefuls can educate themselves and businesses can advertise their services.

The event featured seminars and a huge convention floor full of vendors. Jen Wynn, Vice President of Expositions at Cannabis Industrial Marketplace, said the event is meant to provide education on the marijuana business and to connect industry members.

Businesses specializing in seeds, lighting, gummies, security and more came from across the country to show off their services. Vendors local to Mid-Michigan and the Great Lakes Bay Region were also represented.

The Hempire Collective, located at 10147 N. Loomis Road, is a cannabis grower and recreational dispensary operating out of Wise Township in Isabella County. Owner Mario Porter said his is one of only three total businesses in the township, giving him a genuine opportunity to succeed.

“(The township) needed revenue, so they opted in (with marijuana) because they saw an opportunity to help the township,” Porter said.

He said his business is growing strong and looking into other locations for dispensaries. It is also expanding its delivery up to 75 miles away from Wise Township, which includes Midland.

Marijuana Security Operations (MSO) operates out of Bay City, offering secure transportation and bodyguards for marijuana businesses, said owner Grady Emmons. MSO works with six to 10 clients at 15 sites across Michigan. He came to the convention to grow awareness of his business and gain new clients.

Wildfire Credit Union has branches all over Michigan, including one in Midland. Andrea Hales, Wildfire chief business officer, said the credit union began offering banking services to marijuana businesses about 18 months ago and began offering loans last year as well.

Banking with marijuana businesses involves more monitoring, reviewing transactions and connecting to the state metric system.

“We think we are helping the community by getting some of that cash off the street so they are getting into the banking system,” Hales said.

Businesses not directly related to the marijuana industry, including attorneys and wifi providers, were at the convention to show the services they can provide to marijuana businesses. Rusty Reynolds runs Optic Edge, a patented, three-in-one LED signage company that operates out of Paris, Michigan. He said the signs can help drive traffic for dispensaries.

Potential business owners like Jamie Balousek, a Petoskey resident, were there to research and learn the industry. He said he plans on opening a commercial grow operation with a business partner in Northern Michigan and was surprised to see how deep the industry goes.

“What I'm finding out is we need a lot of things that we didn't know we needed,” Balousek said. “That is what this has really done -- is open our eyes to all of the different aspects of the business that we didn't even think of.”