The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development today approved a $135,000 performance-based Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grant to Peterson Farms to assist the company with expansion in Shelby, Michigan.
Already Oceana County’s largest employer and a leader in the U.S. frozen fruit market , Peterson Farms is beginning an expansion project that requires a multi-year capital investment of $22 million but is expected to yield an additional 50-70 new jobs for the rural community.
The project is also being supported by $3 million in net proceeds from Federal New Market Tax Credits from Michigan Community Capital and the Michigan Strategic Fund and a $1 million Community Development Block Grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Strategic Fund. The project was also made possible through the efforts and collaboration of The Right Place and the Oceana County Economic Alliance.
The expansion project will include three production lines and a new juice bottling capability.
“Peterson Farms is grateful for our partnership with the MEDC, MDARD, MCC, and Oceana County,” said Aaron Peterson, CEO. “As we continue to pursue our mission of processing high quality Michigan grown apples, blueberries, tart and sweet cherries and peaches to our customers’ varied specifications, we also are eager to help those communities in which we operate as well as those supporting Peterson Farms’ grower partners. The expanded processing operations, developed with the assistance of the MEDC, MDARD and MCC, enables Peterson Farms to expand the employment opportunities for an additional 50-70 Oceana county associates while also creating the opportunity to process over 115 million pounds of additional fruit products grown by our grower partners.”
MDARD previously supported Peterson Farms with a Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grant of $150,000 in 2018, for an $11 million state of the art IQF (Individual Quick Frozen) tunnel to ensure processing capabilities for growers outside of fresh markets. The retraction of three IQF tunnels statewide made this project imperative and it has been a huge success.
“There is a tremendous amount of strategic growth happening in Michigan’s food and ag industry,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell, “and it’s especially gratifying to see all these groups come together and create new job opportunities for rural communities, while giving a boost to growers across the entire state.”
“This expansion of Peterson Farm’s processing capabilities in Oceana County will have a positive impact on Michigan’s fruit growers market and agricultural supply chain,” Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We are pleased to work with MDARD and our local partners to continue to bring economic opportunities to all regions in the state and support Peterson Farms and the new jobs this expansion will bring to area residents.”
“Peterson Farms is a critical part of the Oceana County community,” said Jodi Nichols, Business Development Coordinator, Lake and Oceana Counties for The Right Place. “The variety of career paths and extensive employee benefits programs made available to residents by Peterson Farms are essential to our local economy, and this expansion is an exciting win for the region.”