SHELBY — Family-owned fruit processor Peterson Farms Inc. is expanding its operations in Oceana County, north of Muskegon.
The company plans to invest $22 million in the expansion, which it expects could result in the creation of 54 jobs, according to an announcement from Grand Rapids-based The Right Place Inc. and the Oceana County Economic Alliance.
The expansion will include an additional 35,536 square feet of production space, which will enable the company to process more than 115 million additional pounds of fruit from growers in Oceana County and across the state, according to a statement from Peterson Farms CEO Aaron Peterson. The company also plans to acquire juice bottling and applesauce lines as well as additional equipment for blueberry processing and apple peeling.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, along with Michigan Community Capital and PNC Bank, are supporting the expansion with more than $4.2 million combined via grants, awards and tax credits.
“There is a tremendous amount of strategic growth happening in Michigan’s food and ag industry, but it’s especially gratifying to see all these groups come together and create new job opportunities in rural communities while giving a boost to growers across the entire state,” MDARD director Gary McDowell said in a statement.
Peterson Farms is one already one of Oceana County’s largest employers, with up to 900 seasonal and full-time employees during peak times. The company operates six facilities totaling more than 1.5 million square feet of processing and storage space, including one of the largest freezer storage facilities in the Midwest.
Annually, Peterson Farms processes 7 million gallons of apple juices and ciders and more than 150 million pounds of fruit products from apples, sweet and tart cherries, peaches and blueberries.
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