Skandia company receives grant to develop flour mill

MARQUETTE — The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development recently voted to approve Food and Agriculture Investment Fund grants for a project in the Upper Peninsula.

“When the Food and Agriculture Investment Fund was established, we knew it could be used to have an impact on jobs and communities in every corner of our state,” Gordon Wenk, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said in a press release. “So, in addition to supporting great projects like Dutch Treat Foods in Zeeland, we’re also able to help propel businesses in places like Skandia, Michigan. Not many business grant programs have that kind of range and flexibility.”

Liberty Farms and Flour Mill LLC, of Skandia will receive a $40,000 performance-based grant to support their ramp-up and growth of a flour milling operation in the U.P.

The company is working to develop a 1,600-square-foot building to house a grain mill, sifter and bagging line to utilize U.P.-grown food-grade grains. The project will lead to the creation of three new jobs and will require an overall investment of $448,000.

Once fully operational, the facility is expected to mill about 685,000 pounds of food-grade grain per year. Grain will be sourced from U.P. farmers and will provide a local milling operation, saving significant transportation costs as grain is typically sent to Minnesota for processing into flour.

The project will add value to U.P.-grown products, while creating jobs and investment in the area, a press release states.

The final milled flour will be sold wholesale into local and regional markets. The company has also received support for this project from Accelerate UP, a nonprofit business development organization funded by Eagle Mine that provides free business coaching within Marquette County to assist business development growth outside of the mine.

“We are excited to support the growth of these two food and agriculture companies as they invest and grow here in Michigan,” Peter Anastor, director of MDARD’s Agriculture Development Division, said in a press release. “Liberty Farms and Flour Mill will be the first project in the Upper Peninsula to receive a Food and Agriculture Fund grant, and we are proud to be able to support value-added processing of Michigan grown products that will provide a significant impact to our local and regional food economy.”

The Food and Agriculture Investment Program provides financial support for food and agriculture projects that help expand food and agriculture processing to enable growth in the industry and Michigan’s economy. Projects are selected based on their impact to the overall agriculture industry and their impact to food and agriculture growth and investment in Michigan.

Dutch Treat Foods, of Zeeland, Michigan, will also receive a $60,000 performance-based grant to help modernize equipment and accelerate the growth of the company.