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USDA Awards Grant to West MI Shoreline Food Processing Initiative

<September 6, 2018> – A $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will enable substantial progress for the West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative.

“USDA is committed to supporting Michigan agriculture and helping rural communities prosper,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Jason Allen. “This is a great example of how we are working with numerous partners to boost local producers and create jobs.”

“We have been investing in healthy food access and food systems for several years. This is the next step in that work, creating cross-sector collaboration that pulls together education, business, government, and agriculture,” said Chris McGuigan, president and chief executive officer for the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. “This initiative will create substantial impact through new jobs, educational opportunities, and increased healthy food access for Muskegon County.”

To-date, the West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative has accomplished the following:

  • Conducted economic impact studies that conclude that accelerating food aggregating, processing and distributing in West Michigan will have a significant, positive impact on agriculture and area communities;
  • Reviewed best-practices for other areas, including a fact-finding visit to the Fingers Lake region of New York State. This research confirms that an advanced food program processing enhances employment, tax benefits and development;
  • Secured initiative “seed fund” grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation to help develop the initiative’s vision and program scope; and additional funding from multiple local community funders.
  • Development of an education curriculum in collaboration with Michigan State University and Muskegon Community College to work with existing and potentially new food processing companies;
  • Identification of potential food processing manufacturing industrial park locations.
  • Ongoing research and potential development of a food processing incubation and pilot manufacturing center.

The West Michigan Shoreline Food Processing Initiative includes support from Muskegon County; the City of Muskegon; Muskegon Community College; Consumers Energy; Community Foundation for Muskegon County;  Michigan State University; Supply Chain Solutions and Eco Ships; and other local agricultural, economic and community development organizations. More information on the initiative is available at:

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Related stories:

MLIVE Muskegon Chronicle – “Efforts to Turn Muskegon into a Food Processing Hub Continue,” September 10, 2018
Grand Rapids Business Journal – “Developer Plans Business Incubator and Food Plant,” July 27, 2018
Grand Rapids Business Journal – “Table Set for Food Initiative,” November 24, 2017