State transportation economic development grant to support major new dairy processing facility in St. Johns

Contact: Michael Leon, TEDF Program Manager, Office of Economic Development, 517-241-2568
Agency: Transportation

November 14, 2018 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has awarded a $580,052 Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) Category A grant to the City of St. Johns to resurface and reconstruct roads leading to a major new dairy processing facility. The grant will leverage $555,000,000 in private investment, at a private/public ratio of nearly 957-to-1.

Glanbia Nutritionals, dairy cooperative Select Milk Producers Inc., and Dairy Farmers of America are constructing a dairy processing facility on a 146-acre site in St. Johns. The facility will take in more than 8 million pounds of milk and produce 800,000 pounds of American-style cheddar and other block cheeses per day. In addition, Proliant Dairy Ingredients is building an adjoining facility that will use milk processing byproducts to make whey permeate for both human and animal consumption. When completed, the two facilities will form one of the largest dairy processing facilities in the county and the largest permeate plant in the world. The increase in Michigan's milk processing ability will help reduce or eliminate the high cost of transporting raw milk out of state for processing.

The St. Johns site is located near the milk supply and has convenient access to the state's trunkline system. However, the condition of some of the roads in the St. Johns industrial park, where the facility will be located, presented an obstacle for the traffic generated by the company. A portion of Walker Road, which will be the company's main route to Old US-27 and US-127, currently has a gravel surface and is not suitable for handling the expected 290 daily commercial trips generated by the development. In addition, the existing paved portion of Walker Road, as well as Technical and Tolles drives, are in poor condition and in need of repair. This roadwork will help enable Glanbia Nutritionals and Proliant Dairy Ingredients to proceed with their combined $555,000,000 development, resulting in 288 new full-time positions over the next three years.

"As we move to develop the state-of-the-art dairy facility in St. Johns, we are very grateful to MDOT for their support in building a local infrastructure for a plant of this scale. This infrastructural investment is good news for everyone in the community," said John Dardis, Glanbia plc senior vice president, Group Sustainability and Corporate Affairs.

"Proliant Dairy's new facility in Michigan requires improvements to the surrounding roads and infrastructure. The support we have received from local and state planning agencies has been key to this project moving forward," said Mike Matter, Proliant Dairy president and chief executive officer. "Customers, employees and drivers will all benefit from the assistance."

The total cost of the project is $966,754, including $580,052 in TEDF Category A funding and $386,702 from the City of St. Johns.

Enacted in 1987 and reauthorized in 1993, the TEDF helps finance highway, road and street projects that are critical to the movement of people and products, and getting workers to their jobs, materials to growers and manufacturers, and finished goods to consumers.

TEDF "Category A" or "Targeted Industries Program" grants provide state funding for public roadway improvements that allow road agencies to respond quickly to the transportation needs of expanding companies and eliminate inadequate roadways as an obstacle to private investment and job creation. Eligible road agencies include MDOT, county road commissions, cities and villages. More information about the program is available online at