Governor Granholm Celebrates $35 Million Business Expansion

Contact: Megan Brown 517-335-6397

June 30, 2008

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today joined state and local officials to celebrate expansion of the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) processing plant in Ovid.  The expansion, supported by an Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zone designation approved last month by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board, is expected to generate private investment of $35 million capital and create 510 jobs for the state, including retaining the 86 current full-time positions and adding 10 new positions directly to the Ovid plant.

"Michigan's food and agriculture industry plays a key role in helping to diversify and grow our state's economy," said Granholm.  "Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zones are enhancing this important sector by attracting new investment and creating jobs in communities across the state."

"This is an exciting day for us and all of Michigan's dairy industry," said Ken Nobis, MMPA president.  "The Michigan dairy industry contributes over $5 billion to our state's economy; increasing the capacity of our Ovid facility further strengthens our state's dairy industry and our overall state economy."

In 2006, MMPA contacted the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) to help facilitate an expansion at the Ovid plant.  To make the expansion possible, an existing rail-to-trail linking Ionia and Owosso needed to be rerouted.   Working with the Michigan Department of Transportation, MMPA entered a purchase and rental agreement rerouting the corridor and paving the way for the expansion to take place.  The agreement has led to a 41-mile Rails to Trails corridor that will connect 16 local communities in Clinton, Ionia and Shiawassee counties, bringing new recreational and tourism activities and spurring economic growth and new business in the area.

"This type of homegrown investment is a shining example of the state's agri-business sector investing in Michigan through capital investment and job creation," said Michigan Department of Agriculture Director Don Koivisto.  "This expansion underscores the tremendous partnership between government and private business."

Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zones are geographical areas designated as tax free for eligible agricultural processing companies that plan to build a new facility or significantly improve an existing facility within the zone.

"The combination of an innovative economic development tool and strong state-local collaboration was key to securing this expansion, said Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) President and CEO James C. Epolito.  "Michigan Milk Producers Association is an important area job provider, and we look forward to their success for years to come."

Michigan's Renaissance Zone program is administered by the MEDC, which is a partnership between the state and local communities promoting smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life. 

For more information on MEDC initiatives and programs, visit the Web site at www.TheMEDC.org.  For more information on MMPA, please visit www.mimilk.com.

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