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PHOTO RELEASE: MDARD Director Gary McDowell & Office of Rural Development Deputy Director Sarah Lucas Visit Right Brain Brewery, Leelanau Cheese Co. & 9 Bean Rows in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, MI - Today, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Director Gary McDowell and Office of Rural Development (ORD) Deputy Director Sarah Lucas visited several local food and agricultural businesses in Traverse City, including, Right Brain Brewery, Leelanau Cheese Co. and 9 Bean Rows. McDowell continues to travel across the state to meet with food and agricultural businesses as they advance during Michigan's economic recovery.

"Michigan's food and agriculturally based businesses are a powerhouse for the state's economy, and we want to continue to provide support for these businesses," said McDowell. "Talking with local business owners and hearing how MDARD can help their local business thrive is the best part of these tours. We want local businesses across our state to know that MDARD is here to help them grow."

In 2007, Russell Springsteen opened a brewery and pub in Traverse City's Warehouse District--making the creative type of beer he always wanted. In 2022, the pub and production facility moved to 16th Street in Traverse City's SoFo District. Right Brain's Pub always has 30+ beers on tap. With over 150,000 visitors a year, the pub is family-friendly with a connection to the local community.

Right Brain also produces and sells beer on draft and in packages (bottles and cans) distributed to hundreds of retail accounts across the entire state of Michigan.

Leelanau Cheese is a staple business within the local food community in northwest Michigan. In 1995, John and Anne Hoyt established Leelanau Cheese and, over the course of 25 years, developed a local and international reputation for their cave-aged, award-winning, European style cheeses. Today, under the guidance of cheesemakers Gary Smith and Josh Hall, Leelanau Cheese Co. continue the tradition of bringing the flavors of the region to life.

9 Bean Rows grows healthy and delicious food for the Northern Michigan community cultivating food, not commodities. With that in mind, their vegetables' nutritional content and flavor are at the top of their priority list.

In 2013, 9 Bean Rows received a grant for a a commercial washing station for salad bars at Leelanau County Public Schools. After years of providing the mixed salad greens year-round to the Leland Public School, they were able to ramp up production and provide farm-fresh, chemical-free produce to students in Frankfort, Leland, Glen Lake, Suttons Bay, the Leelanau School, and Northport, as well as several schools within the Traverse City Area Public School System.

Throughout 2022, Director McDowell is meeting with Michigan’s food and agricultural businesses having conversations focused on how they can continue to thrive in Michigan's new economy and how best MDARD can assist their continuous development.