LANSING, MI — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Jan. 12 to announce that Welch Foods is expanding its operations in the village of Lawton, where it will create up to 57 jobs for Michigan workers.
The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $26.2 million, supported by $588,725 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds awarded to Van Buren County. Michigan was chosen for the project over competing sites in several other states.
"Michigan's business climate and highly skilled workforce provide an environment where businesses like Welch's can grow and thrive, creating good-paying jobs for Michiganders," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "We're pleased that this iconic brand has chosen to expand in Michigan, helping to continue to grow our state's vital agribusiness industry. With the help of companies like Welch Foods, we can build back our state's economy stronger than ever."
Welch Foods Inc. has produced grape juices, jams, and jellies since 1869 and has had operations in Michigan since 1919. The company is experiencing increasing demand for single-serve beverages, and after reviewing its options for potential sites in different states, has made the decision to locate its new bottling line at its facility in Lawton. At least 30 of the 57 new jobs will be held by low-to moderate-income individuals in order to meet national CDBG objectives. The CDBG funds will assist with the acquisition of machinery and equipment needed for the expansion.
"Welch's is pleased that our close partnership with UFCW Local 825 has enabled us to commit to this investment, which will support our growth, continue to bring living-wage jobs to the community, and help us make Welch's an employer of choice in Van Buren County," said Welch Foods Inc., A Cooperative Chief Supply Chain Officer Merrell Bennett. "The State of Michigan is a great place to grow, and we are grateful for the efforts of state and local officials that are helping us make this project a reality."
The project will have a large impact in a rural community and reflects the company's long-term commitment to the area and to the state of Michigan. In addition, the project will revitalize underutilized property into food-grade production space that will allow for future growth. The investment is also important for continued relationships with Michigan growers and suppliers and to strengthen the regionally significant agribusiness industry.