LANSING, Mich. — During its regularly scheduled meeting, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for five food and agriculture projects in Michigan. The projects will help grow companies focused on processed fruit, dairy, and soybean operations, as well as support the expansion of consumer-demand driven, value-add Michigan products.
“Michigan’s place as a national leader in the food and agriculture industry is undeniable,” said Gordon Wenk, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Not only do we produce some of the most diverse and highest quality products, but we’re also quick to adopt new technology and respond to consumer trends around the world. These grants are an effective way of accelerating development and creating jobs that may otherwise take years or not happen at all.”
Sugar Free Specialties LLC, DBA Dr. John’s Candies of Comstock Park, Michigan, will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant toward the purchase and renovation of manufacturing and office space to launch the world’s first natural, sugar-free lollipop, branded Healthy Sweets™. Dr. John developed these sugar free lollipops and hard candies with a low glycemic index and without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or major allergens. The lollipop contains 20 percent of the FDA’s daily recommended fiber requirement, as well as essential vitamins, and a portion of sales are donated to non-profit children’s cancer organizations. Capital investment for this project is $2,128,000 with 18 new jobs anticipated. The investment is contingent on the approval of additional state and local incentives in support of the project.
S & F Foods of Romulus, Michigan, will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant to expand their production and freezer storage capacity to meet the demand for their first proprietary retail brand, Gluten-Free Delights®. The project requires a $1.4 million capital investment that would add 27,000 cubic square-feet of dedicated gluten-free production, cold storage space and an extruding line. The project will lead to the creation of 10 new jobs and increase capacity of the Gluten-Free Delights® private label and co-manufacturing production by 20 percent.
Quality Roasting LLC of Caro, Michigan, will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant to support the construction and operation of a new 33,000 square-foot soybean processing facility in Indianfields Township, near Caro. Quality Roasting is a joint-venture formed by Quality Roasting, Inc. (QRI) and the DeLong Co. Inc. (DeLCo) to process soybeans into crude soybean oil and Exceller Meal®, an expelled high bypass soybean meal that uses no chemicals or solvents in the manufacturing process. Quality Roasting will utilize approximately 2.2 million bushels of soybeans, or about two percent of Michigan’s annual soybean yield. The project will require $10 million in investment and is expected to create eight jobs.
Michigan Milk Producers Association of Novi, Michigan, will receive a $200,000 performance-based grant for a new 7,500 square-foot addition to the main processing area at their facility in Constantine, Michigan, as well as the installation and operation of new milk concentration equipment, processing and storage vessels. Wastewater treatment upgrades are also an important component to this project. These investments will allow MMPA to increase milk processing capacity by 1.3 million pounds per day, helping MMPA manage the increasing milk production in Michigan through manufacturing of new value-added products. This project will assist in consuming a portion of the excess milk being produced in the State of Michigan, which is depressing commodity markets. The project will require a capital investment of $24 million and will create 11 new jobs.
St. Julian Wine Company of Paw Paw, Michigan, will receive a $125,000 performance-based grant to increase tank capacity by installing a new chilling system that is more efficient and environmentally friendly. The project will lead to the installation of 11 new tanks, allowing St. Julian to add 132,000 gallons to its current capacity, which will process roughly 725 tons of additional fruit. As a part of their growth strategy, the company plans to add additional capacity every year for the next five years, resulting in dramatic increases in the amount of Michigan fruit that will be contracted and processed. For nearly 100 years, St. Julian Wine Company has been owned by the same family, with the same commitment to using exclusively Michigan-grown fruit. St. Julian Wine Company will invest $1,487,250 in equipment and facility upgrades and expects to create three new full-time positions.
“We hold these projects up as great examples of what the Food and Agriculture Investment Program was designed to do: accelerate the growth of Michigan food and agricultural companies,” said Peter Anastor, director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division. “The support provided to grow food and agriculture businesses of all sizes will allow them to better compete in the agricultural marketplace.”
The Food and Agriculture Investment Program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan.
— Michigan Department of Agriculture
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