LANSING, MI – Grants from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to several businesses around the state of will bring new jobs to an array of ongoing operations.
Cherry Republic Inc. of Glen Arbor, Michigan, will receive a $135,000 performance-based grant toward the expansion and addition of machinery and equipment at their distribution and fulfillment center in Empire, Michigan.
Capital investment for this project is estimated at $1.7 million and will lead to the creation of 17 new jobs. The project will lead to more efficient operations and will allow the company to triple their storage capacity. Cherry Republic was founded in 1989 and today the company has 200+ cherry-based products including chocolate-covered cherries, salsas, BBQ sauces, jams, jellies, nut mixes, baked goods, soda pop, cherry wine and cherry beer.
9 Bean Rows LLC of Suttons Bay, Michigan, will receive a $50,000 performance-based grant to expand, renovate and equip a new facility they recently purchased in Suttons Bay. The primary focus of the project will be the expansion of the bakery production kitchen, which will allow the company to continue to grow their wholesale accounts while ramping up production for their retail and farmer market outlets. With this growth, the company expects to increase purchasing, production, and sales of Michigan agriculture products through their value-added activities.
Total capital investment for the project is expected to be $514,500, including the purchase of the building, and they expect to create eight new jobs over time. The company is working with Venture North, a regional not-for-profit economic development organization, on financing for the project. 9 Bean Rows was founded in 2009 as an artisan food and bakery company led by a husband and wife team that continues to be a recognized for their farm and artisan bakery products.
Avalon International Breads LLC of Detroit, Michigan, will receive an $80,000 performance-based grant to increase their Bakehouse capacity while also meeting their social mission to provide workforce opportunities for Detroiters. The company plans to invest $350,000 to complete building renovations and add new machinery and equipment that will allow the company to continue to grow their frozen distribution business while working to become SQF certified. The project is expected to create five new jobs.
More than 80 percent of company’s vendors are Michigan-based companies, and this investment will allow the company to triple their revenue growth. The project has also been supported with a Go Pro Talent grant, and Avalon is working with the Detroit Development Fund and Invest Detroit on project financing. Avalon International Breads was founded in Detroit in 1997 and has steadily grown its highly successful artisan bread and sweets products while providing employment opportunities for 135 people.
Moersch Hospitality Group of Baroda, Michigan, will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant for the purchase and installation of a new canning line and other necessary machinery and equipment to support the growth of their sangria products. The company will invest approximately $314,160 in the project, which will lead to the creation of two new positions. The company is fully committed to utilizing Michigan grown fruits for their products, including the sangria product, which is made with 80 percent Michigan grapes.
In order to continue to meet their demand, the company will also be adding 10 additional acres of wine grapes. Moersch Hospitality Group is a family-owned business that has been crafting wine, beer and spirits in Southwest Michigan for 30 years. They currently own and operate Round Barn Winery, Free Run Cellars, Round Barn Brewery & Public House, and Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant.
Marne Specialties and Meats LLC of Kent City, Michigan, will receive a $35,000 performance-based grant to support facility upgrades and necessary equipment to obtain USDA certification for making meat products under the Paul’s Gourmet Jerky brand. To meet this goal, the company will invest approximately $97,500 and create five new jobs over the next three years.
The company also expects to expand co-packing opportunities and they have been working closely with Michigan State University’s Product Center on USDA certification and growth opportunities. The company purchases 90 percent of its ingredients from Michigan based companies, including 100 percent of beef, pork, and turkey purchases. Marne Specialties and Meats is a family-owned company that has been in the meat business for 70 years.
Allen Neighborhood Center of Lansing, Michigan, will receive a $50,000 performance-based grant to design and construct the Allen Place Accelerator Kitchen at the Allen Neighborhood Center in Lansing. The company will invest approximately $150,000 to build out the space and add new machinery and equipment that will support five growing food and agriculture companies.
The investment is being made as part of a larger project that will provide housing and other commercial and retail opportunities at the facility. The project is also being supported with a $40,000 Catalytic Investment Award from the Michigan Good Food Fund, a public-private partnership loan fund that provides financial support to good food enterprises that benefit underserved communities across Michigan.
Bear Creek Organics LLC of Petoskey, Michigan, will receive an $80,000 performance-based grant to expand its year-round growing capacity for greens and living herbs. The company will invest approximately $432,500 for this project, which will include new processing space, new greenhouses and new hoophouses at their farm in Petoskey.
The project will create five new jobs and will allow the company to invest in new technology and ensure Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliance. The company was launched six years ago and has grown to be a recognized leader in the farming, food, and greater business community; and it is the only farm in their area growing fresh greens 52 weeks a year.
Eastern Upper Peninsula Wood Shavings Inc. of Kincheloe, Michigan, will receive a $125,000 performance-based grant to expand and produce its 100 percent organic, premium-flake wood shavings products. The company will invest more than $2 million to purchase and renovate an existing building in Chippewa County, which will allow the company to restart production after a fire destroyed their facility last year.
The new facility will lead to the creation of 8-10 new jobs and will allow the company to increase its production and purchase of balsam and spruce grown in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The facility will produce a premium softwood shavings product that is utilized by numerous agricultural customers and is safe for horses, hogs, and other livestock, as well as for chicken and pets. The product is USDA certified organic, virtually dust free, super absorbent and biodegradable. The company was established in 2012 and is the only organic wood shavings producer in the country.
Brian’s Food LLC of Southfield, Michigan, will receive a $100,000 performance-based grant to expand their production operations to produce calzones and other packaged products. The company will invest approximately $1.2 million to lease, renovate and add machinery and equipment to an existing building in Southfield.
This project is necessary in order to meet the demand for its products and will lead to the creation of 20 new jobs. The project will also lead to the sourcing of more than 500 tons of ingredients from Michigan farmers and distributors on an annual basis, including flour and vegetables, such as onions, mushrooms, and green peppers. The company plans to continue to expand its product offerings by developing additional calzone varieties and sizes, as well as adding other product lines. Brian’s Food was launched in 2015 and has grown to supply more than 250 customers, primarily in Michigan and surrounding states.
Riveridge Produce Marketing Inc. of Sparta, Michigan, will receive a $100,000 performance-based grant for the construction of a new 36,000-square-foot apple cider production facility. The multi-million-dollar investment will include production, lab, office and meeting space at an existing site in Grant, near the hearth of the apple-growing region in West Michigan. The new building will replace a facility that was lost to a fire last July and will allow the company to press and bottle cider in a variety of sizes and packages.
The project is expected to create 12 new jobs, with up to 20 new jobs created over the next few years. Investment in new machinery and equipment will allow the company to operate more efficiently and have a greater impact on Michigan agriculture, which will supply most of the apples for the facility. Riverigde was founded in 1990 as an apple marketer and has grown into a grower, shipper, packer and processor of Michigan apples.
KDS LLC dba Schramm’s Mead of Ferndale, Michigan, will receive a $100,000 performance-based grant for the development of an orchard-to-bottle production model in Southeast Michigan. Schramm’s Mead manufactures connoisseur mead (honey wine) and operates a tasting room in Ferndale. This project will allow the company to expand its operations and will require an investment of $790,000 for improvement to their production space, including new IQF or blast freezer equipment, fruit washers, pitters and presses, a bottle rinser and storage freezer. The project will lead to greater vertical integration of products and will allow the company to better control the availability and quality of the fruit varieties used in the production of their meads.
The project will lead to the creation of 10 new jobs. The company was founded in 2013 and has seen significant growth due to the passion and expertise and innovation of the owner who wanted to produce the highest quality commercial mead on the market. The company was ranked #33 in the 2018 ranking of “Top 100 Brewers” by RateBeer, the highest rated meadery in the world.
“We are very excited to be working with a diverse group of growing food and agriculture business here in Michigan,” said Peter Anastor, Director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division. “They are all great examples of the results that can happen when we take the great products we grow and produce in Michigan and turn them into value-added food products that lead to investment and job creation right here in Michigan. It is really great to see projects like the Allen Place Accelerator Kitchen become reality, as it provides opportunities for small food companies to take the next step in their growth.”
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.
First published by MI Headlines on March 27, 2019.