State Announces Strategic Growth Initiative Grant Awardees

Agency: Agriculture and Rural Development

$2.25 million awarded to grow Michigan’s food and agriculture industry

December 13, 2013

Media Contact:

Heather Throne (MDARD)
517-284-5725 or

Kathy Fagan (MEDC)
517-335-4590 or

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Jamie Clover Adams and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) President and CEO Michael A. Finney announced today the recipients of the Strategic Growth Initiative (SGI) Grant Program.

“These grants allow us to leverage business development and growth for Michigan’s $91.4 billion food and agriculture industry,” said Director Clover Adams. “With increased investment in our agri-food sector, we can help ‘move the needle’ for continued long term growth.

“We’re constantly looking for improvements and new ways to feed our state, country and the world for future generations,” said Finney. “With projected growth in populations in coming years, Michigan agriculture needs to keep pace to produce enough food to feed all of us. At MEDC, we are working to foster greater economic opportunities for our food processors, agribusinesses and those involved in food production. It’s a great state partnership with MDARD and local organizations.

MDARD received 75 applications for this program totaling more than $19 million in requests. The recipients are:

  • EASTERN MARKET CORPORATION, Detroit: $250,000 - This project assists small, start-up food entrepreneurs develop and bring products to market. Initially, 15 food businesses will be assisted with product development, food safety, and marketing strategy in their efforts to bring safe and wholesome products to the market. This project is part of a larger undertaking that will also provide other services such as bank financing, micro loans and local retailer contacts once the businesses have established a proven product with a long term vision to become an anchor participant in the Metro Detroit Food Hub and manufacturing group.
  • MBG MARKETING, Grand Junction: $150,000 - This project will determine residue profiles of insecticides and fungicides on blueberries; identify the level of residue reduction provided by post-harvest processing; and deliver MRL (Maximum Residue Level) decision strategies to the Michigan blueberry industry. This project is expected to have a significant long term effect on the ability of the Michigan blueberry industry to grow the export business and improve their competitiveness in the global food marketplace. We expect to see a 25% increase in off-shore export volume from Michigan over the next five years as a result of this project.
  • MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, DEPARTMENT OF ENTOMOLOGY, East Lansing: $150,000 -This project will link extensive field trials with analytical residue studies to produce an MRL guide for growers. The guide will help them make appropriate close-to-harvest pest control decisions such as knowing pre-harvest application intervals to avoid MRL infractions in key domestic and international markets. The guides will allow apple and cherry farmers to have more control and therefore significantly enhance export and domestic opportunities.
  • PLAVA PUR, Southfield: $200,000 - This project will address economic and environmental issues facing swine producers in Michigan. The goal is to cut manure handling costs and mitigate negative environmental impacts to the state’s water resources, thereby removing a barrier to the growth of the swine industry. A mobile unit will be designed and engineered by MSU Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering from state of the art, proven technology and then field tested on local farms.   The project is expected to lead to a cost effective system that provides dischargeable or near dischargeable water for reuse and solid waste material for fertilizer and biofuels.
  • THUMBWORKS, Marlette: $150,000 - This project focuses on the workforce needs of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry in the Thumb region. The group will develop and implement a workforce training model that prepares workers for entry level food processing opportunities. Additionally, an interactive, online tool will be developed allowing real time interaction and communication directly with food and agriculture employers with the potential to deliver an educational opportunity that does not exist elsewhere. Long term, this model can be adopted and refined in other parts of Michigan as local communities work to increase employers’ access to the skilled workers needed for business growth and expansion, while providing food and agriculture employment opportunities for their citizens.
  • MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, ELI BROAD COLLEGE OF BUSINESS, East Lansing: $200,000 - This project emphasizes the identification and implementation of logistics and supply chain improvements for Michigan’s wheat, soybean, corn, and dry bean producers with a focus on value added and export sectors.   The project will include an assessment of the agricultural supply chain to pinpoint improved service areas, such as reducing cycle times, delays for transport and processing, and reduction of supply chain risks. These improved service areas will reduce costs and create job opportunities.
  • MICHIGAN BEAN COMMISSION, Frankenmuth: $250,000 - This project will assess the potential for production of specialty food ingredients derived from Michigan grown and processed dry beans. Michigan’s bean industry produces consistently high quality beans directed to the canning and fresh package trade. Additionally, it will identify new uses for Michigan dry beans to enhance their sustainability as a viable option for Michigan growers and shippers, adding value to the product before it leaves the state.
  • SQUARE SON, LLC, De Pere, Wisconsin: $250,000 - The project will determine geographic location, facility infrastructure, and manufacturing process layout for a new Square Son production facility to be constructed in Michigan to produce low sugar, low calorie fruit juice derived from and produced in Michigan. The project will include a feasibility assessment to determine market price implications if there is a substantial change in supply and/or demand within the next five years, including forecasts based on demand for existing fruit products and the incorporation of new fruit juice products.
  • MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, BIOSYSTEMS & AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING, East Lansing: $250,000 - This project will develop a system to utilize meat processing wastes for energy production and water reclamation. The demonstration will focus on creating a self-sustainable and cost-effective waste utilization system that can treat waste to meet MDEQ/EPA regulations as well as generate renewable energy and valuable fertilizer. The system will lead to improving the waste management for small meat processors and providing job opportunities for rural Michigan, which will create a win-win solution for the environment and local communities.
  • MICHIGAN POTATO INDUSTRY COMMISSION, Lansing: $82,032 - This project will study the potential to profitably redirect chipping potatoes into alternative uses, including researching the potential of the processing plant in Michigan to process individually quick frozen slices for frying in the domestic and export market. The study will identify the best value added processing opportunity for the Michigan chipping potato industry and establish steps for implementation.
  • MICHIGAN SOYBEAN ASSOCIATION, Frankenmuth: $96,100 - This project funds an analysis of the opportunities and barriers to increased livestock production and meat processing in Michigan, particularly the impact that increased livestock production will have on corn and soybean production prices and processing, identifying the best location for a soybean processing plant. Long term, this project will provide a roadmap for opportunities to add value to Michigan commodities, grow animal agriculture, and increase food and agriculture employment in Michigan.
  • MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, DEPARTMENT OF ENTOMOLOGY, East Lansing: $153,232 - This project aims to commercialize a pest management device. The device will accomplish three goals -- provide affordable control of difficult to manage key insect pests; reduce pesticide residues on raw agricultural products; and reduce the environmental impacts associated with pesticide applications. This proposal has considerable short term impacts for Michigan’s fruit industries and will have longer term impacts for additional specialty crop systems including landscape, nursery, field, and vegetable crops.
  • COMMERICAL MAPLE SYRUP PRODUCERS OF MICHIGAN, Burt Lake: $10,000 – This project funds a feasibility assessment of the potential to grow Michigan’s maple syrup industry. The assessment would set out the potential impact the industry could have on the state’s economy by identifying the opportunities and challenges, as well as strategies to move forward. Michigan currently taps less than one percent of its maple syrup potential. The assessment will be a roadmap for industry growth that can be used by all maple syrup producers and processors.
  • MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY, PRODUCT CENTER, East Lansing: $58,636 - This project will enhance the technical expertise of the MSU Product Center consultants to respond to increasing requests for assistance with HACCP plans, food processing plans, and retail meat variance applications from small Michigan food companies. Initially, the Product Center consultants will provide technical consultations to 10 small-scale Michigan food processors for the commercialization of new food products. Long term, the project will assist other small food companies beginning operation or expanding their product line.

This grant program is a direct result of the Governor’s 2011 Summit on Production Agriculture and recommendations from the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Agricultural Processing.SGI, a joint venture between MEDC and MDARD, is designed to break down barriers inhibiting the growth of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry as well as to foster economic opportunities for Michigan-based food processors, agribusinesses, and those involved in food production.

Applications were submitted to MDARD in October and scored competitively by a Joint Evaluation Committee. Their recommendations were given to the Director for final approval.

For more information on Michigan’s food and agriculture industry, visit


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