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MDARD grant to Ethel's Bakery helps spark new jobs, reinvestment in Michigan food and ag industry

For immediate release: September 16, 2020         
Media contact: Jessy Sielski, 517-331-1151

LANSING, MI - Today the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development approved a $90,000 Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grant for Ethel’s Bakery LLC. The performance-based grant will help accelerate the final stages of a $2.3 million expansion of the company’s operation in Shelby Township. The overall project will lead to 16 new jobs and help the company expand its capacity and improve efficiency.

Due to the growing demand for its handmade, gluten-free desserts, Ethel’s Bakery is expanding into a new production facility that will enable the continued growth of the company. The overall project includes 15,000 square feet of space for new baking, packaging, and raw material storage, along with 3,250 square feet of administrative and sales space. This will increase production capacity and create efficiencies in packaging and operations, as well improve automation.

“We are very excited to help support reinvestment in Michigan, especially during these challenging times,” said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “In addition to creating new jobs for a rural community, this project will also help support other great Michigan companies that supply Ethel’s with key ingredients such as butter, honey, and eggs.”

“We are honored to have the opportunity to expand this project during such a challenging time,” said Jill Bommarito, founder and CEO of Ethel’s Baking Company. “It has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach to make this happen, and that includes support from MDARD. These funds will directly impact our ability to grow our business with current customers and our new Michigan partners, including Meijer and Bay Corrugate. We want to thank all our partners for helping to make this happen, including the Michigan Milk Producers Association and all the dairy farmers for keeping up with our demand. We are looking forward to sharing new products and flavors in the very near future!”

Ethel’s Bakery LLC (Ethel’s Baking Company) was founded in 2011 and started as a wholesaler, operating from a leased church kitchen to produce, sell, and self-distribute to Plum Market, Westborn Markets, Hillers, and several other local grocery stores. Within two years, the company had moved into its own facility, and by 2015, they had to double their operations and add distribution.

Today, Ethel’s Baking Company sells its dessert bars through distributors to retailers, universities, and hospitals across the United States and Canada, as well as through its own e-commerce business. Their products can be found in more than 500 Michigan stores, and a new partnership with Meijer will put their treats in 250 additional stores throughout the Midwest. All of Ethel’s dessert bars are handcrafted in small batches, a process that will continue in the new facility.

“Macomb County is proud of the success of Ethel’s Bakery and its growth into their new facility in Shelby Township,” said Vicky Rad, director of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. “We started working with Ethel’s Bakery in back in 2013, just two years into their operation, so we have had the pleasure of sharing in their success over the years, and we look forward to what they will achieve in the years to come.”