Gerber–Nestlé Nutrition to Invest $75 Million over 10 Years

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

State helps Michigan company compete in global market

FREMONT - State and local officials today joined executives from Gerber Products-Nestlé Nutrition to celebrate plans for Gerber's $75 million investment in its Fremont campus. The project will retain 1,100 area jobs, create an additional 200 jobs over the next 10 years and will include facility upgrades and new production lines. Following recent approval by the Michigan Agriculture Commission, Michigan Strategic Fund and State Administrative Board, the expansion has been designated an Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zone (APRZ), enabling it to qualify for certain tax benefits.

"Michigan's food and agriculture industry plays a key part in helping to grow and diversify our state's economy," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zones are enhancing this important sector by attracting new investment and creating jobs in communities throughout the state. Gerber is an important job provider, and we look forward to their success for years to come."

Gerber Products Company began in 1928 on the production lines of the Fremont Canning Company in Fremont. Today, Gerber produces nearly 190 different food products that are labeled in 16 languages and distributed in 80 countries around the world. Gerber has maintained one of the world’s largest private research facilities dedicated exclusively to infant nutrition. In 2007, Gerber Products was purchased by Nestlé, part of the Nestlé Nutrition division, a global leader in early childhood nutrition.

Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zones are geographical areas designated as tax free for eligible agricultural processing companies that plan to build a new facility or significantly improve an existing facility within the zone.

"Michigan’s renaissance zonesare designed to encourage the growth of industries that are key to our long-term fiscal health,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James C. Epolito, who also chairs the Michigan Strategic Fund. “This expansion is important to advancing agriculture and diversifying our economy.”

Gerber works with over 200 Michigan growers and purchases more than 61,000 tons of produce valued at approximately $12 million. Also, they purchase $36 million in packing and raw materials from 11 key Michigan-based suppliers.

“We are excited by this great example of private-public partnership,” said Kurt Schmidt, CEO, NestléNutrition, North America. “This announcement reflects our commitment to Gerber’s historical birthplace, Fremont, Michigan.”

"It’s this type of homegrown investment from the state's agri-business sector that will further diversify Michigan’s economy and create more jobs," said Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Don Koivisto. "The agri-food industry continuesto grow in Michigan, and this expansion underscores what can be accomplished when government and private business work together."

Gerber Products employs approximately 1,100 people at its Fremont campus, is the largest employer in Newaygo County, and has a significant impact on the local economy through direct jobs as well as indirect jobs.

“We have been very proud of Gerber Products beginning here in Fremont and, noting Gerber's strong economic ties to Fremont and West Michigan, our city council unanimously endorsed the application for the APRZ,” said James Rynberg, city of Fremont mayor. “We look forward to many more years of Gerber's commitment to our community and welcome our new relationship with Nestlé Nutrition, as well.”

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

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