MUSKEGON, MI – Michigan State University Product Center is partnering with a food processing incubator in Muskegon to connect with area farms and help small businesses grow.
The Muskegon Community College Food, Agriculture, Research and Manufacturing Center (FARM) business accelerator is now managed by the university. The state of Michigan took over management of the facility this week.
Marty Gerencer, executive director of the West Michigan Food Processing Association, said the partnership is a game-changer for food entrepreneurs in the region.
“Having the resources of a great university at FARM will really make a difference for food companies,” she said.
Related: Muskegon Food Processing Incubator Provides ‘Springboard’ for Small Businesses
FARM opened in the spring to allow businesses to rent space and create products from fruits and vegetables. It targets small businesses looking to expand beyond a home kitchen and aims to promote sustainable practices.
“Our mission is to help entrepreneurs in the food, agriculture and natural resources industries add value to their products and assist in the development of new and innovative products,” said Mollie Woods, Director from the MSU Product Center.
With the new partnership, small businesses can tap into the resources of the university. In addition, day-to-day operations will be managed by Clarence Rudat, former program coordinator for the Institute of Agricultural Technology.
Rudat said in a statement that FARM draws on the university’s expertise for farmers “looking to add value to their products” and food entrepreneurs “looking to test and develop innovative ideas.”
FARM is the only such Phase 2 food processing business accelerator in western Michigan.
Statewide, the agriculture and food processing industry accounts for more than $ 100 billion in economic activity, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Gerencer said the partnership allows MSU to expand its reach into the region where there are nearly 10,000 farms and more than 200 food processors.
“This definitely establishes a bigger role for MSU on the west side, especially with the food industry,” she said.
FARM was developed with support from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, Greater Muskegon Economic Development, Muskegon Community College, and Michigan State University. A $ 2 million grant from the State of Michigan helped build the facility at 1945 Stebbins Road.
The Muskegon area companies Lively Up Kombucha and Kaja’s Flavors are currently tenants of FARM.
More on MLive:
Muskegon Community College Offers $ 25 Gift Cards to COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics
See 40 artists showcase their talents at Muskegon Street Performers Party
Lake Michigan, parks and nature at the heart of Norton Shores’ new marketing campaign