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A Better Partnership


Aug 2016
August 09, 2016

Warner Norcross Partner Kurt Brauer Discusses Michigan's Food Economy with Crain's Detroit Business

Kurt Brauer, a partner in the Warner Norcross Southfield office and chair of the firm’s Agribusiness and Food Industry Group, commented on a range of relevant issues in a Crain’s Detroit Business special report on the state’s food economy.
In an article titled “Opportunities rise for food processing in Michigan, but can biz feed the demand?,” Brauer suggested that as the state increases its production of agricultural commodities, opportunities in processing ancillary products will grow as well. By way of example, Brauer points to the increase in the state’s dairy farmer presence and rise in milk production, saying that there are now “several yogurt and cheese makers looking to locate or expand in Michigan."
Brauer also outlined some of the challenges Michigan faces as it works to attract these new business. Food processors are high users of electric and gas utilities, as well as water, sewer and transportation infrastructure. These resources aren’t all necessarily in place in some of the rural communities where agribusiness tends to concentrate, he said.
Brauer noted that the state offers some financial incentives to food processors, though those tend to be limited and very competitive. Incentives range from block grant funding to business development grants and loans to industry specific renaissance zones that exempt companies from property taxes for up to 15 years. Brauer also said that the state's 2014 personal property tax phase-out for qualified manufacturing businesses means that the expensive food processing equipment and machinery companies invest in won't typically be taxed.
In a second article titled “Michigan food businesses face talent shortage,” Brauer commented that although Michigan has a high number of workers familiar with sophisticated manufacturing, they tend not to be concentrated in the rural areas where growers and processors (who need to tap into that existing talent pool) often locate. To assist on that front, the state is looking to add more agricultural education in middle school and high school curriculum.  
Crain’s Detroit Business subscribers can read each story by following these links:

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