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MDARD Awards Rural Grants to Support Infrastructure, Sustainability of Land-Based Industries

By Chelsea Lewis-Parisio

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) awarded 24 Rural Development Fund Grants designed to promote the sustainability of land-based industries and support infrastructure that benefits rural communities.

"Since day one, the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration has prioritized upgrading and investing in Michigan's infrastructure. At MDARD we're awarding grants designed to support infrastructure specifically in Michigan's rural communities," said MDARD Director Tim Boring. "These grant dollars invest in our growing food and agriculture workforce, increase building capacity, improve existing infrastructure and create new economic opportunities within our rural communities. These opportunities demonstrate why Michigan has become a major food and agriculture destination."

MDARD received 91 proposals with requests totaling more than $7.2 million. Of those, MDARD awarded the following 24 projects totaling just over $1.8 million, leveraging a match of more than $9.8 million:

  • Meister Trees- $33,225 (Marquette) Installation of a drip irrigation system to support the creation of a corn maze and a pumpkin/squash patch. The expansion will enhance their existing irrigation pond, incorporate a drip irrigation system, and erect deer fencing.
  • Gerrish Lyon Utility Authority- $100,000 (Roscommon) To perform hydrogeological investigation and preliminary engineering for the proposed wastewater collection and treatment system.
  • City of Marquette- $45,500 (Marquette) The City of Marquette is seeking funding to conduct essential planning for a comprehensive bike lane infrastructure project.
  • Northern Deer Processing- $100,000 (Montmorency) Northern Deer Processing to increase their meat processing capacity which will have a strong local and regional impact on ranchers and the citizens in the region.
  • Friends of the Historical Thunder Bay Inn- $100,000 (Marquette) Equipment lending library will provide unique opportunities for all ages, promoting healthy activities and education of our natural environment and resources, furthering additional economic viability.
  • The Preserve, LLC- $100,000 (Marquette) To complete a new access road to the Kona Hills campground via US 41 to promote recreational activity in Marquette County.
  • OM4T, LLC - $99,400 (Grand Traverse) Proposal expands OM4T s proven housing investment model, strengthening organizational capacity for the four-year-old small business and the five additional farms its workers support during the growing season.
  • Peaine Township Hall- $19,700 (Charlevoix) Implementation of a water well at Lake Genesareth to address immediate water-related challenges, ensuring the safety of recreational activities, and providing a reliable water source for emergency services.
  • Camp Black River - $69,592 (Marquette) the development of a glamping campground on a 40-acre plot of land to preserve the character of the land and the history of the Black River district.
  • Huron Mountain Outfitters - $65,477 (Marquette) Building renovation to strengthen a cornerstone business in the Big Bay of Marquette County and create a safer place to welcome families hoping to prepare for the outdoor recreation.
  • Graci Studio- $15,252 (Marquette) Purchase of necessary equipment upgrades to allow for workplace safety enhancements and workflow efficiency improvements.
  • Mammoth Distilling - $62,572 (Antrim) Funds to supply for blending and packaging equipment to increase its processing and production capacity.
  • Alpena Community College- $100,000 (Alpena) Acquisition of a bucket truck for the accredited Utility Arborist program to continue to enhance the training opportunities for UA Certificate students.
  • Michigan Freeze Pack - $100,000 (Oceana) Double the automated case/carton packaging capability at the MFP Hart facility by installing a second packing line.
  • Michilimackinac Historical Society- $100,000 (Mackinac) Building of a new facility to properly protect the MHS collection, engage museum experience and to effectively preserve the cultural artifacts that attract tourists and visitors.
  • Michigan Energy Options- $69,000 (Marquette) Install a renewable energy infrastructure project at the Forestville Trailhead in Marquette County.
  • Uncommon Rancher LLC- $100,000 (Crawford) New processing facility that will provide training and collaboration opportunities to drive agritourism and expand commercial relationships.
  • Great Lakes Packing Co.- $100,000 (Antrim) To improve, expand, and extend the workforce housing options at Great Lakes Packing Co. by replacing aging units with two larger purpose-built units.
  • Riveridge Produce Marketing- $100,000 (Newaygo) New cherry packing facility to provide a home for Michigan growers to send their sweet cherries for distribution.
  • Oceana County Development $100,000 (Oceana) The Shelby Acres project underscores the significance and timeliness of the OCDC s collective commitment to addressing the pressing affordable housing needs in Shelby Township, aligning seamlessly with current community-specific recommendations.
  • Forbush Corner Nordic- $99,855 (Crawford) Project to update our maintenance facility, ski-school, and restrooms to accommodate for future growth.           
  • NOBO MRKT LLC- $100,000 (Grand Traverse) Build capacity in region by providing the needed support to accelerate food businesses and encouraging market demand for local food.
  • Campbell Crossing Farm- $31,021 (Mason) Increase fresh produce access to the local community.
  • Barrel and Beam LLC- $8,210 (Marquette) - Purchase of a foudre and packaging tank, along with ancillary equipment to efficiently increase craft beverage production.

The grant funds, Public Act 411 of 2012, are aimed to promote the sustainability of land-based industries (food and agriculture; forestry; mining, oil and gas production; and tourism) and support workforce training, rural capacity building, business development and infrastructure that benefits rural communities.

Eligible counties include those with a population no greater than 70,000 residents or micropolitan statistical areas. Preference was given to projects in Marquette County.

The proposals were evaluated through a competitive process. For more information about this grant program or a complete list of eligible counties, visit

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