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Grants Expand Sustainable Construction, Food Processing Markets
Michigan Ag Connection - 09/19/2019

During its regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for two food and agriculture projects in Michigan. With these projects, the Commission has approved 26 projects this fiscal year, leading to more than 200 new jobs and nearly $109 million of new investment in the food, agriculture and forest products sectors of Michigan. This month's approvals will help increase the use of Michigan milk and cream and will support the forest products industry through the development and outreach of mass timber construction, one of the biggest opportunities for Michigan's forest products industry.

"What makes these two projects special is that they have the potential to create exponential growth," said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. "The Browndog project not only benefits that operation, but it also provides resources to help other businesses develop and grow. And the MSU project is about educating the public on a sustainable, already-proven product, which has the potential to become a significant addition to our already thriving forest products industry."

SFT Foods LLC (Browndog Creamery), of Oak Park, Michigan, will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant toward a new production facility for ice cream and baked goods in Oak Park. The project will include building renovations and the purchase of new machinery and equipment that will enable the company to bring ice cream and bakery/confections manufacturing into a single building. Combining the bakery and ice cream manufacturing will allow for wholesale and distribution growth, greater production efficiencies, and will position the company for additional future growth. The project will require a capital investment of $876,200 and will lead to the creation of seven new jobs. The project will also allow the company to act as a co-packer and to provide commercial kitchen space to other businesses in the food production industry. Browndog Creamery was started in 2015 and currently has locations in Northville and Farmington that make baked goods, confections and gourmet ice creams.

The Michigan State University Department of Forestry will receive a $75,000 performance-based grant to provide extensive outreach on mass timber design and construction to stimulate greater utilization of mass timber in the construction of buildings in Michigan and neighboring states. Increasing demand for mass timber in Michigan will provide stronger markets for mass timber manufacturing and the utilization of Michigan forest product resources. Mass timber construction is the utilization of cross laminated timber for the construction of buildings and it often serves as a replacement for steel. This project is a partnership with several partners including Michigan State University Department of Forestry, MSU Extension, MSU Construction Management Program, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

"Accelerating the growth of food companies and the forest product industry has been the focus of the Food and Agriculture Investment Fund, and we are happy to see these projects move forward," said Peter Anastor, Director of MDARD's Agriculture Development Division. "These projects show the impact of bringing value-added opportunities to Michigan's dairy and forest products industry, and we could not be more excited to be a partner for success on these two projects."

The Food and Agriculture Investment Program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan's economy.

Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan.

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