MUSKEGON — A new partnership is bringing Michigan State University’s resources and expertise in food processing to companies and entrepreneurs throughout West Michigan.
The West Michigan Food Processing Association (WMFPA) has tapped the MSU Product Center to manage its Food, Agriculture, Research and Manufacturing (FARM) food processing accelerator, an 8,000-square-foot facility located adjacent to Muskegon Community College. FARM, which opened in March, provides both manufacturing and training space for stage-two food processing businesses that have outgrown residential kitchens.
The facility is currently home to kombucha brewer Lively Up Kombucha LLC and Kaja’s Flavor Packs LLC, a company that produces seasonings.
The MSU Product Center will bring its proven model and resources that it offers at its on-campus facility.
Marty Gerencer, executive director of WMFPA, told MiBiz that her organization connected with MSU even before construction began on the facility to organize the partnership.
MSU’s presence at FARM will make its services for food businesses and entrepreneurs even more accessible.
“While any company could reach out to MSU at any time, to have them so close at hand and readily available at FARM just makes it much easier,” she said. “Some of the small companies really did not know the resources that were available to them, and now they know. They have those resources and a full-time manager there every day.”
Clarence Rudat, a former program coordinator at MSU’s Institute of Agricultural Technology in Muskegon, will serve as the MSU FARM manager, bringing with him more than 30 years of experience in food, agriculture and natural resources.
“With over $22.3 billion invested in food and agriculture start-ups in 2020, the synergy this partnership brings to the region couldn’t be more timely,” Rudat said in a statement. “With Michigan being the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, farmers are looking to add value to their products, and creative food entrepreneurs are looking to test and scale up innovative ideas.”