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While the challenge of finding talent makes headlines in the manufacturing and high-tech industries, similar struggles in West Michigan’s agricultural sector have the potential to hit even closer to home: the dinner table. 

KALAMAZOO — Ernie Pang’s goal to produce healthier snack foods didn’t quite pan out at first.

As craft beer exports present consistent growth opportunities for American producers, internationally-distributing companies such as Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co. note that overseas markets are making up an ever-increasing portion of their sales.

As the craft brewing industry matures, many West Michigan producers have started seeking out technology that provides sustainable solutions to common issues. 

In a bid to grow the talent pool for Michigan’s nascent craft brewing industry, Byron Center-based Pilot Malt House LLC has announced a $500 scholarship for students in the sustainable brewing program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

In launching a monthly beer series for 2016, Big Rapids-based Cranker’s Restaurant and Brewery wanted to package its specialty beverages in 22-ounce bottles for distribution throughout Michigan.

Bar and restaurant operator BarFly Ventures LLC of Grand Rapids has partnered with a contract brewery in Detroit to market and distribute HopCat-branded beer, MiBiz has learned.

Baroda-based Oronoko Iron Works Inc. hasn’t even turned two years old yet, but the company already has plans to at least double the size of its plant later this year. The reason: Strong growth in the nation’s $19.6 billion craft brewing industry has boosted demand for its material handling products, wh

Industry watchers expect some of the same consolidation activity that’s taken the craft brewing industry by storm in recent years to spread into its agricultural supply chain, particularly for hops.

Despite a long career in the beer distribution business, Keith Klopcic lacked expertise in making the beverages he sold to bars and retailers around the state of Michigan. So when the opportunity arose to buy Comstock Park-based Perrin Brewing Co. last year, he tapped a partner with extensive craft brewing resources who had the know-how to help him continue scaling up the business.

While new bills seek to grow the membership of an agriculture industry council funded by licensing fees from Michigan alcoholic beverage makers, the changes still exclude one key sector and its supply chain from the group

Bartenders at Rockford Brewing Company Inc. have poured more pints of craft beer than expected in the company’s three years of operation. With production at its taproom and brewhouse in Rockford maxed out at 800 barrels of beer annually, co-founder Seth Rivard said the craft brewery will need to look outside of its existing facility to add capacity.

Michigan corn growers are disappointed by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announcement on Nov. 30 that they say fails to require enough corn-based ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

In 2014, craft brewing in Michigan contributed $1.85 billion in economic impact, up 84 percent from about $1.0 billion two years earlier, according to data released last week by the Denver-based Brewers Association, an industry trade group.

As the craft brewing industry continues to grow in West Michigan, several higher education institutions have begun to take action to address brewers’ talent needs. Community colleges and universities in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo are in various stages of developing training programs that aim to establish a talent pool of qualified brewing professionals.

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