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Michigan Grants $630,000 to Local Companies for Increased Production, Sustainability
Michigan Ag Connection - 05/19/2022

The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development voted to approve grants to five local Michigan businesses, totaling an estimated $630,000. These funds will allow businesses to increase production space, expand services through a sustainable and scalability focus, and create 39 new good-paying jobs. The grants were awarded to Wine Chips, Great Lakes Malting Company, King Milling Company, La Colombe Coffee Roasters, and Townline Poultry Farm.

"When we make investments in local businesses, we're investing in the future of our agricultural industry in Michigan," said Gary McDowell, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. "These five businesses will now be able to increase production, provide good-paying jobs for Michiganders and help to ensure that 'Made in Michigan' is known and respected around the globe."

Wine Chips was founded in 2017 by Jonathan Strietzel and Jon Kraft, two tech-focused business entrepreneurs. Wine Chips produces gourmet potato chips designed with the help of sommeliers to be perfectly paired with wine. Operating out of Huntington Beach, CA, since 2019, they expanded production capacity and relocated to the Midwest. Wine Chips is currently working out of the Downey Potato Chip facility to produce products for distribution in hundreds of wineries, including Robert Mondovi in CA, Lemon Creek, Tabor Hills, and Bregman Brothers in Michigan.

This grant opportunity of $65,000 will allow Wine Chips to develop their Paw Paw location, which will enable production growth in the near and long term. This project will bring revitalization to a long-standing vacant property with a unique and innovative, high value add product to be made locally sourced with Michigan chipper potatoes in addition to growing the Southwest Michigan Wine Industry.

"We couldn't be more excited about charting our future in Michigan," said Jonathan Strietzel, Wine Chips' CEO. "Michigan grows absolutely perfect potatoes for Wine Chips, and we have been incredibly impressed with the people we've met as we've started to build our team here. We have ambitious goals, and we couldn't have found a better partner or a better place than the state of Michigan to help us achieve them!"

Great Lakes Malting Company (GLMC) is a craft malt house located on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City, MI. Since 2016, they been supplying an assortment of malted grains to the brewing and distilling industries across the Midwest. GLMC has been running at 100% of their capacity for the past nine months to keep up with growing demand.

The commission approved an investment of $40,000 to allow for Great Lakes Malting Company to keep up with the increasing demand for Michigan-grown brewing and distilling malts. GLMC will undergo an expansion project to double production capacity, which includes two additional custom germination boxes.

The company's mission is to supply the highest quality malt while providing unparalleled service and an unwavering commitment to supporting local agriculture. Michigan is already recognized as "The Great Beer State". By promoting Michigan's agricultural diversity and producing high-quality, locally sourced malted grains, that reputation can only grow stronger.

"We are honored to have our expansion project selected for funding by the Michigan Agriculture and Rural Development Commission" said Jeff Malkiewicz, Great Lakes Malting Co.'s Founder and President. "With the support of the commission, we will be able to increase our capacity to meet the rising demand from craft brewers and distillers for high-quality, Michigan-grown grains."

The King Milling Company (KMC) was founded in 1890 on the banks of the Flat River in Lowell, Michigan. The company has been family owned and operated from the beginning and is now in the fourth and fifth generations of Doyle family ownership. KMC offers a variety of hard and soft wheat products, sourced and processed in accordance with the food industry's highest health and safety standards.

The commission's investment of $250,000 will allow for KMC to build a monolithic flour mill with the future capacity to mill 10,000 hundredweight daily. Included are wheat storage bins, tempering bins, wheat cleaning capacity, increased milling capacity and eight finished flour bins with 2,250 hundredweight capacity each. Additionally, King Milling Company will be able to hire six new employees.

This is the largest single investment King Milling Company has made in its long, 132 year history," said Brian Doyle, president of King Milling Company. "It is a long term investment that will provide benefits to Michigan's agriculture and food processing sectors for many years to come. We appreciate and thank the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for its assistance on this significant project."

La Colombe, a leading coffee roaster known for ethical, long-term trade practices with growers, was founded in Philadelphia in 1994. Considered one of the pioneers in specialty coffee, it provides signature classic blends and exceptional single-origin coffees to cafe?s, hotels, restaurants and retailers around the world. In addition, the company owns and operates 32 cafe?s in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, and Washington, D.C.. In 2015, the company made headlines in the ready-to-drink business with its Draft Latte -- the world's first-ever textured cold latte. In 2016 it purchased a plant in Norton Shores, MI. Today La Colombe, who is the largest independently owned 4th wave coffee company, is leading the charge in the ready-to-drink coffee category. In the U.S., the ready-to-drink coffee market is estimated at $4.5 billion. La Colombe ranks No. 1 in the premium category and its ready-to-drink coffee beverages are available in thousands of grocery and big-box stores nationally. This investment from the commission of $200,000 will allow for the production facility to start two major projects. The first being to create a high-speed bottling line for the 42 oz. multi-serve product. The second being, bringing the proprietary Cold Brew manufacturing process to Michigan, creating the largest cold brew production facility in the United States. These projects allow La Colombe to more readily meet the growing demand for its beverages, while utilizing more Michigan milk.

Townline Hatchery was established in 1913 by Jacob and Ada Geerlings and originally began as a cow farm. Due to the growing poultry industry in town, it quickly became a chick hatchery. Not long after, the poultry industry began to dissipate in Zeeland due to the relatively inflated expense of raising poultry in the cold climate of Michigan. Many moved south for reduced feed and heat costs. Others shut their doors altogether due to a lack of interest from buyers or heirs. Fighting on, three of Henry and Gertrude's sons, Jack, Richard, and Don took over the farm in 1988 as 3rd generation owners and operators. Since then, Jack's sons, John and Bill Geerlings, began leading the 4th generation of operating the hatchery, acquiring ownership from their father and Richard upon their retirement over the last 8 years.

The $75,000 investment will allow Townline Hatchery to build a new 13,000 square foot addition for some of the most reliable, energy efficient, leading-edge technology incubation equipment on the market along with new packing and shipping areas and a loading dock. In addition to the expansion, this will create six new jobs in Zeeland.

"We are excited for such an amazing opportunity to not only continue, but build upon, grow and advance the legacy our family began 108 years ago when the farm started in 1913," said John Geerling, president at Townline.

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.

For more information about MDARD grants, visit Michigan.gov/MDARDGrants.


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