Fresh Solution Farms LLC plans to open a $17.5-million potato processing facility in southern Michigan.
The plant in Mottville Township, St. Joseph County, is expected to process 80 million pounds of potatoes a year.
General Manager Greg Salisbury says the company picked St. Joseph County for the 60,000-square-foot plant's location because it is close to growers, right next to the railroad tracks and close to the I-80/I-90 corridor.
"We can pack immediately upon receiving an order and ship the same day to almost two-thirds of the population of the country, being that we're so central to the population," says Salisbury, who previously spent eight years with General Motors Corp., including five years as quality manager of GM's Detroit Hamtramck Assembly plant.
"We were focused on the west part of Michigan because that's a great potato growing area," he says.
Incorporated in Michigan in 2007, Fresh Solution Farms is owned by Eugene Miller and four potato production, processing and distribution companies --Ohio-based Michael Farms, Michigan-based Sandyland Farms, Pennsylvania-based Sterman Masser Inc. and Michigan-based Walther Farms.
The plant aims to ship its first potatoes next September.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has arranged $10 million in financing through the use of the Private Activity Bond program.
"Michigan's agricultural assets are among the main staples of the state's economy," corporation president and chief executive James C. Epolito said in announcing the aid.
"This bond will help support this vital industry by keeping the processing portion of the business firmly rooted in the state, creating the opportunity for additional investment and job creation."