Multimillion dollar dairy processing plant in St. John's is underway

There are loads of good things happening in the Capital area, but this one takes the cake as the biggest financial investment into the area we've seen in ages. In mid-September, ground was broken on a 146 acre site whose collective facilities will make up the new dairy processing campus that's set to revolutionize the dairy industry in mid-Michigan.

If you haven't already heard about it, this is a multi-million dollar joint-venture (called Spartan Michigan LLC) involves four companies who've come together to create a massive new dairy processing plant. Located just outside St. John's north of Lansing, this exciting new venture will bring hundreds of new jobs to the area, and save local dairy farmers a bundle.

Keith Lambert, Vice President of Business Attraction at LEAP, who helped broker the deal, breaks down who's involved. "Ireland-based Glanbia is the lead investor, and they'll be the operator of the new cheese and whey processing facilities." Lambert explains. "Also investing in this partnership is Dairy Farmers of America and Select Milk, who will be involved on the milk supply front. And finally, Iowa-based Proliant Dairy Ingredients is investing in an adjacent operation that'll use the whey permeate byproduct of Spartan Michigan LLC to manufacture dairy solids used for baking, and confectionary. Their new whey permeate drying facility in St. Johns will be the largest of its kind in the world!"

So what made the Capital region such a perfect place for an investment of this magnitude? Lots of things, starting with it's proximity to Lansing. "St. Johns is just 20 minutes from the urban core of Lansing, and the bulk of a 250,000 strong labor force that has a history and skill in production." Lambert explains. "Glanbia also saw value in the close proximity to Michigan State University in terms of a food industry-honed talent pipeline and possible R&D partner, with their phenomenal packaging, supply chain management, food product & science, and biosystem engineering programs."

Currently, Michigan’s dairy industry is made up of about 1,600 dairy farms, 97 percent of which are family owned. Because milk production here in the Mitten State has doubled over the last twenty years, we've outpaced the growth of local milk processing operations, and the oversupply has forced local farmers to transport their milk to out-of-state facilities for processing.

As you can imagine, the transportation costs alone are crippling, which is just one reason local dairy farmers are so excited about this investment in their industry. By processing 8 million pound of milk into cheese, whey protein, and when permeate products every day, Spartan Michigan LLC will provide local processing for more than a quarter of all the milk produced in the state of Michigan. So bottoms up, milk-lovers! Let's drink to Lansing's prosperity.

Source: Keith Lambert, Vice President of Business Attraction, LEAP
Writer: Sarah Hillman, News Editor, Capital Gains

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