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Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development grants $300,000 to local companies for increased quality, sustainability and 43 new jobs

Investments in small businesses in Pigeon, Ray, Jackson, and Detroit

LANSING, Mich. - Today, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve four Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for local Michigan businesses, totaling an estimated $300,000. These funds will allow businesses to improve the quality of products, expand services through a sustainable and scalability focus, and create 43 new good-paying jobs. The grants were awarded to Cooperative Elevator Co.Marrow Detroit Provisions LLC, Fry Krisp Food Products Inc., and Youngblood Vineyard LLC.  

"The State of Michigan and our partners are laser-focused on growing Michigan’s economy and taking action to help small businesses thrive. This funding demonstrates why Michigan remains at the forefront of innovation when it comes to our food and agricultural industry," said Governor Whitmer. "These critical investments by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development will help us put Michiganders first and empower these four local businesses to grow and expand in their communities."  

"By making these investments into our homegrown food and agricultural businesses, Michigan can continue to be a expand its economic footprint locally, nationally and around the world,” said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. "With this funding, these businesses will be able to increase production and product quality, focus on scalability, and create good-paying jobs for Michiganders."   

Cooperative Elevator Co. is a farmer-owned cooperative established in 1915 to provide agricultural production supplies and marketing services for farmers in the "Thumb" of Michigan. They currently supply approximately 1,100 patron-owners across the state with products and services ranging from certified seed to state-of-the-art agronomic tools that maximize their production while preserving the sustainability of the land they have been entrusted with.

Cooperative Elevator Co. will be using these grant dollars to expand capacity processing within their existing bean plant. This expansion will allow for triple the production capabilities and four new positions to meet the staffing requirements of the facility.  

We are so grateful to be a recipient of the Food and Agriculture Investment Fund Grant,” said Scott Gordo, CEO of The Cooperative Elevator Co. “The Cooperative Elevator Co. is committed to our edible bean platform, the communities we operate in and our dedicated 1,100 patron/owners.  This grant will go a long way in supporting our efforts to remain leaders in the spaces we operate in.  It will also allow us leverage technology to further grow our market share while remaining a viable employer in the area for years to come.”

Launched in October 2018, Marrow is Detroit’s only hybrid restaurant, and butcher shop focused on whole animal butchery. Marrow’s mission is to connect local producers to local communities while providing deliciously fresh food and unique culinary experiences. Our butcher shop was named one of America’s Top 100 butcher shops by Food & Wine Magazine in 2020. Marrows have also received national accolades; we were nominated for a James Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant in 2019 and named as one of Eater’s best restaurants in the same year. 

As a result of this funding, Marrow will complete an entire rehabilitation of their location in Eastern Market, allowing their facility to become a modern meat processing facility, retail shop, and full-service restaurant. This will include the creation of 20 jobs in the Metro-Detroit area. Additionally, Marrow will become a USDA-certified meat processor specializing in value-added meat products and raw cuts. 

"Marrow's vision is to drive the growth of a more ethical and sustainable meat industry in Michigan that benefits all -- from farmers to consumers -- in the value chain. This grant from the Michigan Commission of Agriculture & Rural Development is a strong note of encouragement to kick-start the work that lies ahead of us,” said Marrow CEO/Founder Ping Ho. “We aim to succeed in sustainable production, defined as the creation of products using processes and systems that are non-polluting, conserving energy and natural resources, economically viable, and safe and healthful for workers, communities, and consumers.”

Fry Krisp Food Products, Inc. is a family-owned business that has been in Jackson, MI, since 1950. For over 70 years, the Fry Krisp and Oven Krisp brands have featured seasoned batters, specialty mixes, ovenable breadings, and seasoning used to prepare foods for frying and baking. Our reputation for delivering high-quality products made with quality ingredients has given us a loyal customer following. In December 2020, Stephen Artz purchased the Company and is dedicated to strengthening the Fry Krisp brand and products into new sectors of the economy.

This grant opportunity will allow for Fry Krisp to expand by approximately 15,500 square feet, which will include, expanding their current warehouse, increasing office space and adding on a professional kitchen. Additionally, these funds will allow for the addition of solar panels to their existing roof, increasing the sustainability of their company. Fry Krisp is focused on keeping up with product demand and fulfilling orders for their customers. This investment will directly create 15 new jobs. 

“Our family appreciates the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development and all the assistance their team provided,” said Stephen P. Artz, President and Owner of Fry Krisp Food Products. “This program is such a great opportunity for both agriculture and industry to come together and better serve our growing customer base.” 

In 2016, Dave and Jess Youngblood traded in their fields of soybeans, corn, and Christmas trees and planted wine grapes on their 76-year-old, 5th generation family farm. Youngblood Vineyard is home to nearly 23,000 cold-hardy wine grape vines planted on 25 acres. Five years later, the vineyard is thriving. The current 25 acres consists of 6 different grape varieties. All wine is processed on-site and is 100% estate-grown, meaning 100% of the wine produced has always been made from the grapes grown on Youngblood Vineyard and never from fruit, juice, or bulk wine sourced outside of the farm. The farm operation has grown from one part-time employee to 12 employees. With this additional funding, Youngblood will be creating four new positions.  

“This grant support will help grow cold climate grape growing and wine making throughout the State of Michigan. These newer varieties of wine grapes were developed specifically with Michigan’s cold winters in mind and give Michigan farmers a high value specialty crop to consider for planting. We are very grateful that the State recognized the continued success of our business model and the potential positive impact on Michigan agriculture,” said Jessica Youngblood, owner and vineyard manager of Youngblood Vineyard. 

Youngblood Vineyard will be utilizing this funding to expand, allowing them to increase their current production facility and create additional processing. The new production facility’s event space will not only serve Youngblood Vineyard’s need to add an indoor area for private events such as weddings, but it will also add the opportunity to continue providing the local community and individuals new to the grape industry with workshops, seminars, conferences, and events. 

For more information about MDARD grants, visit