Wastewater Treatment Project Spurs Growth at Two Coopersville Companies

Posted in News on March 28, 2017

Coopersville, Michigan –Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC and Fairlife LLC, announced a collaborative project to add additional onsite wastewater treatment capacity at their 100-acre dairy processing plant in the City of Coopersville.

Support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and City of Coopersville helped pave the way for the $3.7 million upgrade to move forward.  This upgrade will result in $173 million in capital investment and the creation of 52 new jobs.

"Fairlife continues to achieve an astonishing rate of growth,” said Hawk Dobbins, plant engineer at Fairlife, LLC in Coopersville. “This collaborative project will allow our growth to continue unabated and paves the way for long term investment and job creation in West Michigan."

Both companies are expanding operations to include new products and product lines. The increased water treatment capacity will allow Fairlife to add additional capacity to produce fairlife, Core Power and Yup branded products.

“Continental Dairy Facilities is very pleased to partner with the State of Michigan and the Michigan Strategic Fund to identify investment opportunities that recognize growth potential in the state’s dairy industry while working to protect the environment that we all share and cherish,” said Steve Cooper, Chief Operating Officer & General Manager, Continental Dairy.

The increased water treatment capacity will allow Continental Dairy to expand operations to produce butter and buttermilk powder.

“We continue to work with state and local partners to develop solutions to help our world-class employers overcome barriers and grow in the region,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “These partnerships and resources, and continued focus on what our companies need to grow here are necessary to ensure growth and good jobs for our companies and employees.”

Continental Dairy and Fairlife jointly received a Michigan Business Development Program grant, administered by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, in the amount of up to $2,407,000 to be utilized for onsite wastewater treatment upgrades.

“Food and agriculture businesses are one of Michigan’s major economic drivers, and as they continue to diversify and grow, it’s imperative that we invest in improved infrastructure and processing capabilities,” said Michigan Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Steve Arwood.

The companies and the City of Coopersville evaluated various options to determine the most economic and fastest way to add wastewater treatment capacity. The City of Coopersville has offered local support of this project through a $1.1 million upgrade to its own wastewater treatment plant.

“Fairlife and Continental Dairy have been a significant economic development success story here and in West Michigan,” said Steven Patrick, City Manager, City of Coopersville. “The continued support from the MEDC through the Michigan Business Development Program grant and the City of Coopersville’s on-going investment in its own wastewater treatment plant will provide the means to allow further investment in growth and job creation. We are very appreciative of the collaboration taking place between the State of Michigan, Continental Dairy and Fairlife, and the City of Coopersville.” 

A long-term regional wastewater solution is the next step for positioning the region for additional food processing company growth. In October, the West Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative, an organization made up of economic development partners in the region, supported a $104,600 preliminary engineering design study helping to create an action plan for a proposed implementation of a 20-mile pipeline connecting Coopersville’s wastewater treatment system to the underutilized system in Muskegon County. The West Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative and Fairlife are collaborating on funding the study.

“Wastewater infrastructure capacity is a multi-step, intricate, ongoing project, with multiple state and local partners working with business leaders to support business growth for our current and future food processing companies in West Michigan,” said Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County Administrator. “We are taking the right steps to evaluate and investigate the best long term solution for our region.”

About Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC
In operation since 2008, Continental Dairy Facilities, LLC produces cream condensed milk and over 300,000 pounds of non-fat dried milk each day. The company is on its fourth expansion, with 93 employees in the state and is a regional dairy ingredient facility that receives milk from four other dairy cooperatives with member dairy farms in 35 Michigan counties.

About Fairlife, LLC
Fairlife LLC was established in 2013 and is a partnership between Select Milk Producers and the Coca-Cola Company, with a goal to produce exceptional quality milk. Fairlife’s patented cold filtration process filters natural milk to increase protein and calcium and decrease lactose and sugars. Current products include fairlife, Core Power and Yup. Fairlife also produces Dunkin’ Donuts ready-to-serve iced coffee. The company has 196 employees in Michigan.