Today The Right Place, Inc., in collaboration with the Oceana County Economic Alliance (OCEA), Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Michigan Community Capital (MCC), and Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) announced that family-owned fruit processor, Peterson Farms Inc., will be expanding its operations in Shelby, Mich. This expansion will result in the creation of 54 jobs and a capital investment of $22 million.

Established in 1984 by fourth generation fruit grower, Earl Peterson, Peterson Farms is now a market leader in frozen fruit and fresh-cut apple processing. The company processes products such as apples, sweet and tart cherries, peaches, blueberries, ciders, sliced apples and more, producing over 150 million pounds of fruit products and 7 million gallons of apple juices and ciders on an annual basis. The company is Oceana County’s largest employer, with up to 900 seasonal and full-time employees during peak season.

Peterson Farms’ expansion comes as a result of upcoming growth to its product lines. The company will be acquiring juice bottling and applesauce lines from out-of-state facilities, as well as additional equipment for blueberry processing and apple peeling. With the addition of 35,536 square feet of production space, Peterson Farms will be able to procure more than 115 million additional pounds of fruit from growers in Oceana County and across the state of Michigan.

“Peterson Farms is grateful for our partnership with the MEDC, MDARD, MCC, and Oceana County,” said Aaron Peterson, chief executive officer. “As we continue to pursue our mission of processing high quality Michigan grown apples, blueberries, tart and sweet cherries and peaches to our customers’ varied specifications, we also are eager to help those communities in which we operate as well as those supporting Peterson Farms’ grower partners. The expanded processing operations, developed with the assistance of the MEDC, MDARD and MCC, enables Peterson Farms to expand the employment opportunities for an additional 54 Oceana county associates while also creating the opportunity to process over 115 million pounds of additional fruit products grown by our grower partners.”

This expansion is being supported by:

  • A $1,000,000 Community Development Block Grant awarded through the MEDC and Michigan Strategic Fund
  • $3,000,000 in New Market Tax Credits from Michigan Community Capital and Michigan Strategic Fund
  • $135,000 grant from the MDARD Michigan Food and Agriculture Investment Fund

“Peterson Farms is a critical part of the Oceana County community,” said Jodi Nichols, Business Development Coordinator – Lake and Oceana Counties for The Right Place. “The variety of career paths and extensive employee benefits programs made available to residents by Peterson Farms are essential to our local economy, and this expansion is an exciting win for the region.”

“MCC is proud to use this scarce federal resource to support Peterson Farms, the MEDC, the State of Michigan and its local partners in creating more opportunities for quality jobs and a stronger agricultural market in rural Michigan. MCC felt this was the correct project to be involved with because the company and industry are highly impactful to working families in, and the local economy of, the region.” Eric Hanna, President & CEO of Michigan Community Capital.

“There is a tremendous amount of strategic growth happening in Michigan’s food and ag industry,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell, “but it’s especially gratifying to see all these groups come together and create new job opportunities or rural communities, while giving a boost to growers across the entire state.”

“This expansion of Peterson Farm’s processing capabilities in Oceana County will have a positive impact on Michigan’s fruit growers market and agricultural supply chain,” Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We are pleased to work with MDARD, The Right Place, MCC and other partners to continue to bring economic opportunities to all regions in the state and support Peterson Farms and the new jobs this expansion will bring to area residents.”