“Berry” sweet deal in the works

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ADAMS TOWNSHIP — A massive cranberry bog could be operating in Adams Township in the near future.

Chairman of the Arenac County Economic Development Corporation, Curt Hillman, says he, along with officials in Lansing and landowners in Adams Township, have been working on making a deal with Ocean Spray to purchase 500-1,000 acres of wetland to plant a cranberry bog.

“Ocean Spray has said it is 6,000 acres short of demand,” Hillman said, adding if a deal is cut, the acreage would more than double Michigan’s cranberry acreage. “There’s only 307 acres of cranberry bogs in Michigan.”

According to Hillman, the economic impact of one cranberry bog on Arenac County has the potential to be a boon for the area. He says a company such as Ocean Spray, a cranberry and fruit juice producer, would probably open up a processing plant and possibly a bottling plant as well, equaling work opportunities in the area.

But not all the jobs and economic benefits would come in a plant.

“You got to have bees,” Hillman said, adding about four beehives per acre of bog are needed to pollinate the cranberries. “Look at all the honey that’s generated.

“Look at agritourism,” he added. “There’s a lot of people that come into an area just to see them (cranberries) harvested.”

Hillman says although a deal is getting close, he is still awaiting approval from all necessary state departments.

However, Michigan’s capitol isn’t totally turning its back on him.

“I’ve got support in Lansing,” he said. “Our state representatives, our state legislatures’ they are all over this.

“We’ve got some important meetings coming up this week,” Hillman added in an interview Monday.

Due to the market for cranberries, Hillman estimates a 500-acre cranberry bog, with a processing plant and other necessary facilities, could infuse about $5.93 million and create 75 jobs.

He expects to get more news on the potential of the cranberry bog in two-three weeks.

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