A $135,000 performance-based Food and Agriculture Investment fund grant has been awarded by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development to Peterson Farms in Shelby.
The company, Oceana County's largest employer, is beginning an expansion project that will bring 50-70 new jobs to the rural community. The project requires a multi-year capital investment of $22 million and will receive support from Michigan Community Capital, Michigan Strategic Fund and Michigan Economic Development Corp. The Right Place and the Oceana County Economic Alliance are also contributors to the project.
“There is no other state in the nation that can bring together so many state and local partners to create jobs in rural communities as well as Michigan can,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a press release. “Our food and agriculture industry is one of the strongest, most diverse, and most innovative you’ll find anywhere. And because of our commitment to the industry, we’re attracting investment from across the country and around the globe.”
Peterson Farms specializes in quick-frozen fruits, fresh cut apples, apple sauce, fruit purees, juices and cold storage operations. More than 150 million finished pounds of frozen fruit and 7 million gallons of juices, ciders and concentrates are marketed each year by the company.
“Peterson Farms is a critical part of the Oceana County community,” Jodi Nichols, business development coordinator – Lake and Oceana counties for The Right Place, said in the release. “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.”
The expansion project will include three production lines. It will relocate processing lines from Georgia and Washington. A new juice bottling line will be relocated from New York. The expansion will greatly increase the annual volume of Michigan-grown fruit processed.
“There is a tremendous amount of strategic growth happening in Michigan’s food and ag industry, 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, ” MDARD Director Gary McDowell said in the release.