MSU Product Center Teams With State Agencies

Support areas include marketing, business planning, regulatory compliance, and access to government economic development incentives and financing.

Published on: May 5, 2011

Michigan's food processing industry will get some high-powered assistance from an action team recently formed to assist businesses in expanding jobs and increasing economic impact in the food, agriculture and bioeconomy sectors of Michigan. 

The High Impact Venture Action Team is a new partnership of the Michigan State University Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources in cooperation with MSU Extension, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Office of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development.

Food processing and agribusinesses within the state can access HI-VAT to help solve business expansion challenges and seek expansion opportunities. Support areas include marketing, business planning, regulatory compliance, and access to government economic development incentives and financing. The joint team brings together the considerable resources of Michigan State University and critical governmental agencies to support the expansion of Michigan's agricultural, food and bio-based products system.

"Many existing food-ag-bio businesses in the state have significant opportunities to expand. Yet the weak economy of the last several years and the need for greater coordination of public support for the sectors has hindered the ability of these businesses to move on opportunities," said Chris Peterson, director of the MSU Product Center and Homer Nowlin Chair of Consumer-Responsive Agriculture.

HI-VAT is designed to assist business expansion projects that meet one or more of the following minimum criteria:

• $1 million or more of new investment,

• $2 million or more of new annual sales, and

• 30 or more additional or retained jobs.

 "The HI-VAT team brings together the expertise of all the partners to grow Michigan's $71.3 billion food and agriculture economic sector," says Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. "This partnership shows the commitment to expand the food processing industry, in turn creating new investments, economic activity and retaining jobs in our Michigan communities."

Doug Smith, senior vice president for Michigan Economic Development Corporation, agreed.

"MEDC is eager to partner with MDARD, MSU and USDA-RD to bring the expertise needed for food processors to move to the next level," Smith says. "The HI-VAT team is an efficient and effective way to marshall a variety of resources in one place for Michigan business."

"HI-VAT can help local businesses start up and expand in rural communities," says James J. Turner, state director of USDA Rural Development. "This collaboration is important in bringing new investments into our communities, making them prosperous and sustainable."

Businesses interested in assistance from HI-VAT should contact Tom Kalchik, associate director, MSU Product Center at 517-432-8752 or kalchikt@msu.edu.