Keebler Gets Ren Zone Status

    GRAND RAPIDS — The Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture have announced the designation of a 22-acre Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zone in the city of Grand Rapids.

    The state administrative board recently approved designation of the zone that is currently home to the Keebler Inc. agricultural processing facility, a plant that was scheduled to close last year.

    Keebler is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kellogg Co. The Grand Rapids plant processes and produces toaster pastries and cookies.

    Kellogg had planned to close the plant to cut costs when the company acquired Keebler in March 2001.

    The 15-year Ren Zone designation, which eliminates most taxes for the facility, is expected to retain 390 jobs, create 43 new jobs and spur $35 million in private investment by Keebler.

    “Renaissance Zones have proven to be an excellent tool for economic development in Michigan,” said Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of the MEDC. “The benefits offered by the zones are often the deciding factor for companies to locate and grow in Michigan.”

    Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zones are geographical areas designated as tax-free for eligible agricultural processing companies that plan to build a new facility or significantly improve an existing facility within the zone.

    The MEDC is responsible for reviewing and recommending the Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zones and coordinating proposals with the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

    “This zone designation has proven instrumental in helping the state retain this important food processor, and not only maintain, but expand a significant market for Michigan farmers,” said Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

    “Kellogg’s Keebler plant currently purchases more than $12 million of Michigan agriculture commodities, including flour, sugar and fruit fillings, annually. This investment will help fuel the state’s agriculture economy by maintaining diversified markets and ensuring the plant’s role in adding value to these commodities.”

    There are currently four Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zones throughout the state in Hart, Lake Odessa, Shelby and the latest designation in Grand Rapids.           

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