Tanker trucks line up at the plant shared by Continental Dairy Facilities and Fairlife in Coopersville. Courtesy Lakeshore Advantage
A state-backed, $3.7-million upgrade to a 100-acre dairy processing plant in the area is expected to spur a $173-million investment by a pair of dairy companies.
The project, which will add on-site water-treatment capacity at the Coopersville plant shared by Continental Dairy Facilities and Fairlife, at 999 W. Randall St., “will result in” the companies’ investment in the plant and the creation of 52 jobs, according to Lakeshore Advantage today.
The Michigan Strategic Fund board voted today to support the joint project via a Michigan Business Development Program grant for up to $2,407,000.
“Food and agriculture businesses are one of Michigan’s major economic drivers, and as they continue to diversify and grow, it’s imperative that we invest in improved infrastructure and processing capabilities,” said Steve Arwood, CEO, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, or MEDC.
Both companies have experienced significant growth at the Coopersville location and needed to address the lack of wastewater-treatment capacity or explore out-of-state locations to meet that demand.
Through discussions with the City of Coopersville, the companies came to the solution that to continue to expand in the region, they would need to install a "dissolved air flotation," or DAF, pre-treatment system at the plant, using existing infrastructure from the former GM Delphi facility. The project’s incentives will be used to offset the costs of installing the DAF pre-treatment system. Additionally, the city’s waste-treatment site would need to install larger effluent pumps to handle increased flow.
“Continental Dairy Facilities is very pleased to partner with the State of Michigan and the Michigan Strategic Fund to identify investment opportunities that recognize growth potential in the state’s dairy industry, while working to protect the environment that we all share and cherish,” said Steve Cooper, chief operating officer and general manager, Continental Dairy Facilities.
Both Fairlife and Continental Diary Facilities are expanding their operations to offer new products and product lines. The additional capacity will allow Fairlife room to produce fairlife, Core Power and Yup products, while Continental Dairy will be able to expand operations to produce butter and buttermilk powder.
“This collaborative project will allow our growth to continue unabated and paves the way for long-term investment and job creation in West Michigan," said Hawk Dobbins, plant engineer, Fairlife.
In addition to the Michigan Business Development Program grant, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is providing a $225,000 grant to the project.
The City of Coopersville has also agreed to complete a $1.1-million upgrade to its wastewater-treatment plant to handle the increased flow.
“Fairlife and Continental Dairy have been a significant economic development success story here and in West Michigan,” Coopersville City Manager Steven Patrick said. “The continued support from the MEDC through the Michigan Business Development Program grant and the City of Coopersville’s ongoing investment in its own wastewater-treatment plant will provide the means to allow further investment in growth and job creation.”
In October, The West Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative supported a $104,600 preliminary study to find a long-term solution for the region’s wastewater-treatment capacity.
The study calls for the creation of an action plan to implement a 20-mile pipeline connecting Coopersville’s treatment system to the underused system in Muskegon County. The proposed pipeline would further increase the city’s wastewater-treatment capacity.
Fairlife is collaborating with the West Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative on the study.