Sturgis looks to create jobs by encouraging inventors

'Generate Sturgis' is a new campaign to help entrepreneurs get started

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By Daryl Bjoraas

STURGIS, Mich. -- It's not much to look at now, but when Mike Keesler fine tunes his kinetic generator, he could employ hundreds.

"I just decided that if I'm going to do something with this, I need to do it now," Keesler said.

The 60-year-old inventor hopes to take his idea of using vibration to create electricity and employ people in Michiana.

If he wins a local competition, he could do just that.

"We take it seriously. When there's any loss of any job or a family that's not employed, we care," Cathi Abbs, Executive Director of the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce, said.

Cathi Abbs is responsible for overseeing 'Generate Sturgis', a new campaign to create more business start-ups in St. Joseph County, Michigan.

In a time where jobs are few and far between, the Chamber wanted to try something different to encourage business growth.

Finalists were encouraged to pitch their job-creating idea to a panel of judges, and the winner gets $2,000 to put towards their idea.

"I get tired of how things are, so I build something better," William Bachtel, a contestant, said.

His idea aims to slow the evaporation of salt, a move that could save farmers thousands of dollars.

"I'll be building this, and the material will last as long as the farmer will," Bachtal said.

But regardless of who wins, the Sturgis Chamber is hoping all finalists can make the connections to start their ideas.

And maybe, create jobs in an area that hasn't seen many lately.

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