MEDC OKs incentives to keep Request Foods growing near Holland

Ottawa County

HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Meal production company Request Foods is getting nearly $9 million in grants to stay and expand its ready-to-eat operations near Holland.

The grants are part of a package of incentives the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Strategic Fund Board approved Tuesday morning to support the frozen food processor expanding in Holland Township instead of moving to South Carolina.

In turn, the MEDC expects the project to generate up to $205 million in direct investment and create up to 198 jobs, in addition to retaining the $51 million Request Foods spends on Michigan agriculture and services to create its products.

“Michigan is the second most diverse agricultural state in America. And anytime that we can retain the food processing for our great Michigan farmers right here in the state of Michigan is a tremendous win. …We need to make sure that we have a diversified economy – agribusiness is a big part of that. And this allows us to continually be competitive in this vital sector,” said MEDC CEO Quentin Messer, Jr.

The MEDC says Request Foods’ $205 million project is the largest expansion in the company’s 32-year history. The MEDC said the grants and tax breaks approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board Tuesday are important in keeping Request Foods in Holland Township since South Carolina also offered incentives for the company to move there.

“While we received enticing offers to expand in other states, our commitment to Michigan, coupled with our desire to ensure Holland is recognized as an area of choice to live and work, precipitated our decision to expand locally,” Request Foods Chief Financial Officer Menaka Abel stated in a Tuesday news release.

In the bid to the Board, community and business development officials said Request Foods’ expansion was needed to keep up with demand and remain competitive in the frozen prepared foods market. Messer said issues that have surfaced during the pandemic also highlight the importance of investing in companies like Request Foods.

“I think as we see challenges with supply chain shortages, with trucking, is that the opportunity for us to process foods here in Michigan, closer to the source farming positions us in incredible great stead. And I think if done properly, this could be the start of other similar projects,” he said.

The proposed project includes building a cold storage warehouse for finished products on Ransom Street, adding a ready-to-eat frozen food production facility down the street from Request Foods’ original facility on John F. Donnelly Drive, expanding its Greenly Street facility for bulk and family-sized meal production, and upgrading the company’s wastewater treatment plant.

Request Foods started with a 90,000-square-foot facility on John F. Donnelly Drive near Riley Street and US-31 in 1990. Since then, demand has driven the company to more than quadruple the size of its original production facility and add a second 300,000-square-foot facility on Greenly Street.

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(An undated image provided by the Holland Sentinel shows Request Foods’ headquarters in Holland Township.)

The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development is expected to take up Request Foods’ requested Agricultural Processing Renaissance Zone designation on Nov. 10. Holland Township previously supported the measure.

Request Foods will have three years to hold up its end of the agreement, investment-wise. The company expects to start construction this year and complete its cold storage warehouse by Sept. 30, 2022, to answer customer demand. The entire project is slated for completion in the next two years.

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