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Smitten with diversity

Grand Rapids, Paw Paw deals bring nearly 200 jobs, $40 million private investment boost to Michigan’s food-processing/agribusiness industry

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In a region distinguished by economic and geographic diversity – and where one-third of the state’s agricultural revenue is generated – the Grand Rapids area has added a meat processing plant to the state’s ever-growing food-processing industry.

Today, the Michigan Strategic Fund announced $750,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to Kent Quality Foods Inc., which processes franks, sausages and specialty meats and distributes their products throughout the Midwest. The Grand Rapids-based company reached capacity at its existing facility and will invest nearly $35 million and create 140 jobs at a new facility in Jamestown Charter Township, about 20 miles southwest of its current plant.

“Hundreds of big-name companies are benefiting from locating in one of the most diverse geographic regions in the country, and from proximity to a cluster of agricultural and food processing businesses,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which administers economic development programs on behalf of the MSF, and serves as the state’s chief marketing and business attraction agency.

“We greatly appreciate Kent Quality’s decision to expand in Michigan, and continuing their proud three-generation family business in a state working to elevate the profile and profitability of food-processing businesses,” said Arwood.

Kent Quality selected the Jamestown site over a competing location in Ohio. Jamestown Charter Township is supporting the project with a property tax amendment. Michigan’s food processing businesses generate nearly $25 billion in economic activity, and employs more than 130,000 residents.

“It was a great pleasure to work alongside the company, community and state leaders to secure this growth for our community," said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage.

“The addition of a second manufacturing facility in West Michigan is very exciting for us,” stated Kent Quality Foods President Steve Soet. “The MEDC and Jamestown Township worked closely with us to identify the site, and they were extremely helpful throughout the entire process. As our business continues to grow, this expansion will allow us to meet growing demand as well as provide the opportunity to expand our product lines.”

“It was a great pleasure to work alongside the company, community and state leaders to secure this growth for our community," said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “Kent Quality Foods will greatly complement our expansive community of growing food processors.”

“We are delighted to welcome Kent Quality Foods as a partner in our community,” said Ken Bergwerff, Jamestown Charter Township supervisor. “Ours is a community in which business, agriculture and residents collaborate to be of mutual benefit to each other.” West Michigan region is also home to Mead Johnson Nutrition, Butterball Farms, Coles, Kellogg’s, Country Fresh, Hudsonville and Gerber.

Meanwhile, a roll out of a new product line of frozen produce by Paw Paw-based Spiech Farms further advances the state’s agribusiness, which generates more than $90 billion in economic activity each year in a territory that produces more than 300 commodities commercially, ranking only second to California for agricultural diversity.

Spiech Farms is a fourth-generation grow, pack, and ship operation of grapes, asparagus, lettuce, and blueberries. The company will invest more than $1 million and create 55 jobs as it expands its Paw Paw facility, including new product line of frozen produce in stand-up pouches. As a result, the MSF awarded a $220,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

Michigan, which is the number one blueberry-growing state in the nation, was selected over a competing site in Georgia.

“We thank Spiech Farms for choosing to invest in Van Buren County and appreciate their commitment to growing both quality produce and jobs in the region for over four generations,” said Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First.

“Our organization operates based upon the belief that the greatest force for change is a job and we have no doubt that 55 families in rural Van Buren county will greatly appreciate the change afforded by this project.”

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