Since its establishment back in 1995, Food For Thought and owner Timothy Young have built the company into one of the area’s best-known local food brands as a value-added manufacturer of primarily local, organic and natural Michigan products such as fruit preserves, salsas, mustards and sauces. Food For Thought is also provides co-packing services for other producers.
But its original location at a small, rural Benzie County farm is not designed for food manufacturing, and the company has not been able to serve the commercial and institutional client demand that will be possible with the new space and equipment. The expansion into the Long Lake Culinary Campus will increase Food for Thought’s production capacity and expand product and packaging methods, helping increase sales to retailers, grocers, schools and institutions, and better meet requests for co-packing services for other Michigan producers. It also includes a retail sales space for the company.
The Venture North loan funds are being utilized to purchase equipment necessary to expand production capabilities in a nearly 14,000 square foot space within the Long Lake Culinary Campus – three times larger than its current facility.
The space and new equipment will improve production efficiency along with building institutional packaging capacity to meet demands of restaurants and schools. The specific planned use of funds is to purchase $245,000 in machinery and equipment for the manufacturing process including: a mechanical jar invertor, new kettles, a bottle washer, a buffer/cooling conveyor, tables, box taping and labeler machine and other miscellaneous equipment used throughout the manufacturing process. This equipment will allow Food For Thought to continue in a growth pattern, accommodate new customers, and hire new employees. They plan to hire seven full-time equivalent employees within the next two years, of which at least 51 percent will be low- or moderate-income individuals.
“We are so grateful the Venture North loan funds are local and we are able to help revolve them so they can remain in our region with local say and local impact,” Young said.