MUSKEGON — An 8,000-square-foot food processing business incubator in Muskegon is now open and accepting new tenants.
On Friday, Greater Muskegon Economic Development and the West Michigan Food Processing Association announced that the new Food, Agriculture, Research Manufacturing (FARM) Center is officially open on the campus of Muskegon Community College.
The facility includes flexible manufacturing space for commercial grade fruit and vegetable processing, targeting stage-two food processing businesses that have outgrown residential kitchens but do not yet have the resources to operate their own production plants.
While tenants are responsible to stock the space with necessary equipment, FARM features amenities such as refrigeration, freezers, energy efficient waste and water handling, and loading docks.
“People may be surprised to learn there are more than 6,000 farmers and 200 food processors in the West Michigan region, and several are top 10 fruit (and) vegetable producers in the nation,” Marty Gerencer, executive director of the West Michigan Food Processing Association, said in a statement. “Our experience and research have helped us identify the benefits of incorporating the food processing sector into our region’s economic development strategy.”
Roosevelt Park-based craft kombucha brewer Lively Up Kombucha is FARM’s first tenant and is expected to start production there this spring.
“This facility and the support we’ll receive here will allow us to expand beyond our current Michigan distribution network,” Lively Up Kombucha founder Zack Smith said in a statement. “I don’t know if the next phase in our business would be possible if we had to do it all on our own.
“Moving into FARM gives us a lot of confidence, not only because of what the building offers in terms of our production capacity, but because of the expertise of the people we’ll be able to interact with on a regular basis.”
FARM was made possible by a $2 million Michigan Economic Development Corp. infrastructure grant in addition to contributing partners such as the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, Muskegon Community College and Michigan State University.
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