LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in announcing Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) approval of a new dairy processing facility in the village of Constantine that will reduce the carbon footprint of dairy byproduct and bring new jobs and infrastructure to the community. The project is expected to create 12 well-paying jobs and generate a total capital investment of $41.1 million. Michigan was chosen for the project over a competing site in Indiana.
“This investment by Dairy Distillery will create long-term opportunity in our state’s vital food and agriculture industry and builds on our efforts to create good-paying jobs, support sustainability efforts, and invest in every region of our great state,” said Governor Whitmer. “Our future is bright, and by continuing to work together on bipartisan economic development efforts, we can bring in more investments like this one by Dairy Distillery to us move Michigan forward.”
Dairy Distillery Alliance, LLC is a joint venture between Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) and Dairy Distillery USA. MMPA is a farmer-owned cooperative that includes more than 1,000 dairy farmers in the Great Lakes Region and has two facilities in Michigan. Dairy Distillery is a Canadian company that has developed technology to transform milk permeate, a byproduct of milk and other dairy processing, into ethanol.
MMPA and Dairy Distillery plan to build a milk permeate ethanol plant at the MMPA Constantine dairy facility. The plant will use Constantine’s milk permeate to produce 2.2 million gallons of low carbon ethanol. When blended with transportation fuel, the permeate ethanol will offset 14,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, lowering the carbon footprint of the milk processed at Constantine by five percent.
The project includes the construction of a new, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system that will produce natural gas to power the ethanol plant’s distillation system, further lowering the carbon footprint of the milk permeate ethanol. The output of the wastewater system will be a clean water stream that will eliminate Constantine’s dependence on the local utility to treat its process waste. The plant is scheduled to start production in early 2025.
The project will further boost Michigan’s agribusiness industry by lowering its carbon footprint, reducing waste and creating more value for the state’s dairy industry. It will serve as a model that can be replicated elsewhere and will also benefit the community through job creation and the new wastewater treatment system.
“Constructing an ethanol-processing plant at the Constantine facility compliments our focus on sustainability and provides a progressive, unique opportunity to utilize new technologies that add value to our current processing operations while further diversifying the markets we currently serve,” MMPA President and CEO Joe Diglio said. “It’s exciting to see innovative solutions such as this facility, which lead to growth and success for our members, employees, stakeholders and our communities.”
The Michigan Strategic Fund today approved a $2 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant and a 15-year State Essential Services Assessment exemption valued at $682,500 in support of the project.
“The decision by Dairy Distillers to establish this state of-the-art facility in Michigan highlights the strength of our agribusiness ecosystem and further demonstrates Team Michigan’s commitment to delivering long-term economic growth for all Michiganders,” said MEDC Chief Operating and Customer Experience Officer Jennifer Nelson. “This project is a win for our agriculture industry, our dairy farmers and our entire state. We are grateful to the Governor, legislators of both parties and local officials for their continued support of our efforts. These projects reflect our commitment to ensuring that Michigan becomes an even better place for each of our 10 million-plus friends and neighbors to live, work, visit, play, and create futures. Work remains ahead, yet we are grateful for the vote of confidence that continues to be shown in Team Michigan’s economic environment.”
The village of Constantine anticipates approval of a property tax abatement in support of the project. The MEDC also authorized a State Education Tax abatement to be used in conjunction with the locally approved abatement. More information about this project is available in this video.
“Projects like these are a prime example of the diversity and strength of our dairy industry and demonstrates the Whitmer Administration’s commitment to growing agriculture businesses in Michigan,” said Tim Boring, director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. “In 2022, MDARD provided a $100,000 Value-Added Grant to the Michigan Milk Producers Association and Dairy Distillery in this first of its kind venture. The department is proud to support business expansion with multi-pronged benefits – creates good-paying local jobs; opens up new markets for Michigan’s farmers to continue to thrive; lowers carbon footprints; and reduces the overall waste stream. I hope this serves as a model for others into the future.”
“This is an exciting growth opportunity for St. Joseph County and our region,” said Jill Bland, executive vice president at Southwest Michigan First. “Along with job growth and a total capital investment of over $41 million, we're seeing a significant step forward in sustainable practices in Michigan's agribusiness industry.”
“I’m extremely pleased at the investment into our state’s dairy industry," said House Agriculture Chair Reggie Miller (D-Van Buren Township). "This project will move Michigan closer to a green future while also stimulating the state's agribusiness sector. I look forward to continuing investments into Michigans great agricultural industry."
The project builds on the state’s ongoing support of its robust agribusiness industry. In October 2022, Muskegon County was awarded a $60 million Strategic Site Readiness Program performance-based grant for the Southeast Regional Force Main project impacting communities in Ottawa and Muskegon Counties. The project is intended to provide wastewater transport and disposal services for area agriculture companies including Fairlife, Continental Dairy, DeVries Meats, Applegate Dairy and Swanson Pickle, who plan to invest at least $187 million and create 145 jobs upon completion of the project.
In September 2018, MMPA announced plans to add 7,500 square feet to its processing facility in Constantine to increase the plant’s processing capacity by 1.3 million pounds of milk per day. The project was expected to generate a total capital investment of $24 million.
Also in 2018, Spartan Michigan, LLC, a joint venture between Glanbia plc, Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. and Select Milk Producers, Inc., announced plans to construct a 142-acre dairy processing facility in the city of St. Johns. The project was expected to generate a total investment of $425 million and create up to 259 jobs. Now complete and known as MWC, the Mid-Michigan site is among the largest dairy processing facilities in the country. MWC processes more than 2.9 billion pounds of milk, and will produce in excess of 300 million pounds of superior block cheese and 20 million pounds of value-added whey proteins powders each year.
Michigan’s dairy industry provides jobs, employing local veterinarians, equipment dealers, and farm employees. One dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. Michigan has about 900 dairy farm families who care for more than 445,000 cows. The average dairy herd in Michigan has about 300 cows. Ninety-seven percent of Michigan dairy farms are family owned, many by multiple generations of the same family. In 2020, Michigan ranked sixth in milk production in the U.S. Dairy cows in Michigan produced 11.6 billion pounds of milk. The average Michigan cow produces more than 27,000 pounds of milk each year, or more than 3,100 gallons of milk. (Source: United Dairy Industry of Michigan)
About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit www.MichiganBusiness.org. For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at www.michigan.org. Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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