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PHOTOS: Governor Whitmer Tours Businesses in Branch, Hillsdale Counties


October 13, 2021  



PHOTOS: Governor Whitmer Tours Businesses in Branch, Hillsdale Counties 

Visits include the Keefer Hotel, a project supported by grants that Governor Whitmer announced earlier this year, which will create 50 jobs and generate $12.3 million in investments 

LANSING, Mich. - Governor Whitmer today visited Mastronardi Produce in Coldwater and Keefer Hotel in Hillsdale, highlighting her MI New Economy plan to grow the middle class, support small businesses and invest in our communities. The governor was joined by MDARD Director Gary McDowell in Coldwater.  


"From agriculture to tourism, today's visits in Branch and Hillsdale Counties highlighted the strength and diversity of Michigan's economy," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "I am laser-focused on tackling the big, structural challenges we face to grow Michigan's economy, create good-paying jobs, and build industries of the future. I look forward to working with key partners, the legislature and anyone who wants to put Michigan's families, communities and small businesses first as we bolster our state's economy."  


Mastronardi is a fourth-generation family-owned produce company that first brought commercial greenhouse growing to North America. Mastronardi Produce operates as one of the Midwest's largest glass greenhouses producing fresh vegetables even through the winter months. 


"Michigan is known for our work in food and agriculture, but we are also on the forefront of how agriculture is advancing because of brand new technology," said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. "Mastronardi is a great example of how we can make sure quality products are readily available across our state and how innovation and sustainability is key to growing Michigan's agriculture economy."  


"It's an absolute honor to have Governor Gretchen Whitmer join us at our Michigan Maroa Farms facility," said Paul Mastronardi, CEO and fourth-generation family member to lead Mastronardi Produce. "It's a pleasure to showcase our flavorful, locally-grown produce, our sustainable growing methods and the socio-economic impact our greenhouses have on Michigan's agricultural sector." 


The Keefer House Hotel project will locate a 34-room boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Hillsdale. This historical renovation project includes commercial space on the ground floor as well as hotel space with modern amenities, a welcoming lobby and an upscale restaurant to be enjoyed by guests as well as members of the community. The long-vacant Keefer House is a contributing building to the city of Hillsdale's National Register of Historic Places commercial district and the development is expected to transform downtown Hillsdale and spur economic development by generating new tourist stays and bringing additional revenue to the area.  


The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $12.3 million, create 50 full-time equivalent jobs, receiving Michigan Strategic Fund support through a $2 million MCRP equity investment. Local support for the project includes an Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) tax abatement for 12 years valued at approximately $577,000. In addition, the city will partially forgive the loan for the building upon Certificate of Occupancy in the amount of $265,000. The city of Hillsdale is also certified with MEDC's RRC program. 


"It's very exciting to see the Keefer Hotel project under construction. This project will not only bring much needed revitalization to Downtown Hillsdale, but it will address one of our community's biggest barriers to tourism, the need for additional hotel rooms," said Hillsdale City Manager David Mackie. "Only through collaboration with the MEDC, CL Real Estate Development LLC, Hillsdale's Tax Increment Finance Authority and the City was this project possible. We appreciate these entities making this historic investment in the City of Hillsdale." 


"The Keefer Hotel project will transform the historic Keefer House into a unique and attractive place in downtown Hillsdale that will once again be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike," said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of MEDC and President and Chair of the MSF Board. "We are committed to supporting innovative placemaking projects that create vibrant, resilient communities and drive strong economic recovery statewide. We are pleased to collaborate with our local partners on this project, which will help make Hillsdale an even more attractive place to live, work, visit, and play."