The $2.9 million federal grant to Western Michigan City for the project is expected to support 500 food industry jobs

Oceana County, Michigan – The $2.9 million federal grant is expected to support 500 jobs in the food processing industry in West Michigan City, Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced Saturday, September 17.

The award to the city of Hart in rural Oceana County is part of the US Department of Commerce’s Department of Commerce Department of Economic Development Scholarship Program. The funds are intended to modernize the local water infrastructure to expand the production capacity of the region’s food processing industry, according to a press release.

“Today’s investment in Hart’s water infrastructure will create and retain 500 jobs, spur local small business growth, and build on the recent bipartisan budget I just signed,” Whitmer said in a statement Saturday.

“Investing in our infrastructure is critical to building communities that lead to business growth, and today’s grant will drive long-awaited upgrades that will empower the region’s food processing industry. I will work with anyone to invest in our water infrastructure and grow Michigan’s economy.”

Hart is a small town with a population of about 2,000. The grant is expected to create a total of 75 jobs, retain 425 jobs, and generate $2 million in private investment as estimated by the grantees, according to the statement.

Officials say the upgrade of existing infrastructure will increase wastewater treatment capacity, allowing local fruit and vegetable developers to continue growing Michigan’s economy by supporting well-paid jobs and attracting new business to the area.

“This project will help our processors expand their operations and foster new partnerships with farmers to help make our supply chain more resilient,” U.S. Senator Debbie Stabeno, D-Lansing, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, said in a press release.

The grant comes as Michigan’s economy has grown, Whitmer said, with 133,000 jobs added in the past 12 months and the unemployment rate falling at a record rate.

As part of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant program, Hart’s critical infrastructure upgrades will give the surrounding area a competitive advantage to create new jobs, expand the food processing sector and attract private investment, Alejandra Castillo, US Assistant Secretary of State, said. Trade for Economic Development, in the press release.

More information about the grant program can be found on the EDA web page and a full description of the US bailout economic adjustment program can be found on the grant web page here.

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