Additional Funding for Michigan-Made Jobs

By: Lauren Zakalik
By: Lauren Zakalik

Most of the shrimp we eat here in Michigan comes from places like China and Ecuador, but Okemos?

"We're the only shrimp farm in Michigan, and really the only one like it in the U.S. and pretty much the world," says Russ Allen.

And Monday, Allen and his Okemos shrimp business, Seafood Systems Inc., received $200,000 from the agricultural segment of the 21st Century Jobs Fund. He plans to expand and renovate his company, ultimately creating more Michigan jobs.

"Ultimately, when we go to commercial production, we'd like to bring 1,000 to 1,500 new jobs to Michigan."

Earlier Monday, the high-tech division of the Jobs Fund announced an additional $35 million in available funding. Nearly $3 million of the money is going to mid-Michigan operations, including Michigan State University.

"It's all about providing a partnership between the State of Michigan and these innovative concepts that might help diversify Michigan's economic base," says Mitch Irwin, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

It's unknown how many jobs the new funds will bring to the area. But the money is just one part of the $2 billion initiative meant to bring economic growth back to the state.

"Michigan is a home for rampant entrepreneurialism," Irwin says.

Allen already produces 200 lbs. of shrimp per week. And with the cutting edge technology he already uses, Allen sees no limit to the progress he'll make with his share of the funding.

"With the numbers we produce here, we can produce shrimp in the state of Michigan cheaper than anywhere else in the world. We can compete with China even, and bring jobs back from China to Michigan."

That would be a swimming success.

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