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Published in Economic Development
With new $2.9M grant, Hart to upgrade wastewater system to support food processing cluster COURTESY PHOTO

With new $2.9M grant, Hart to upgrade wastewater system to support food processing cluster

BY Wednesday, August 24, 2022 01:20pm

HART — Backed by a new federal grant, the city of Hart in Oceana County plans to upgrade its wastewater treatment infrastructure to support the lakeshore region’s growing cluster of food processing companies. 

For the project, the city is leveraging a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, which will be matched by an equal amount of local funds, according to a statement.

The American Rescue Plant Act-funded grant is part of the EDA’s $500 million Economic Adjustment Assistance program, one of the agency’s most flexible initiatives. The program aims to help communities fund construction or non-construction-related projects that solve local needs. 

In addition to supporting the food processing industry, the grant also will bolster the local agricultural industry, according to executives. 

“This project will help our processors expand their operations and promote new partnerships with farmers to help make our supply chain more resilient,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said in a statement. “It’s a win-win for the community and Michigan agriculture.”

Officials expect the project will lead to the creation of 75 new jobs in the community, and help to retain 425 existing jobs. They also anticipate the wastewater infrastructure upgrades will generate an additional $2 million in private investments. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer touted the anticipated small business growth in hailing the influx of federal funding for the Hart project. 

“Investing in our infrastructure is critical to building communities that are conducive to business growth, and today’s grant will make long overdue upgrades that will empower the region’s food processing industry,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I will work with anyone to invest in our water infrastructure and grow Michigan’s economy.”

Oceana County includes a range of large food processing companies, including Indian Summer Cooperative, Peterson Farms, Michigan Freeze Pack Co., Arbre Farms, and Gray and Co., according to data from The Right Place Inc. 

“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support locally-driven strategies to boost business recovery efforts in West Michigan,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo said in a statement. “Critical infrastructure upgrades in Hart, Michigan, will give the region a competitive advantage to create new jobs, expand the food processing sector and attract private investment, making the local economy more resilient and equipped to overcome future economic disruptions.”

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