MANISTEE — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced their rural development grants last week, and Manistee’s North Channel Brewing was one of the recipients.

The competitive grant process awarded 20 projects a total of $1.4 million. North Channel Brewing received the maximum allowable grant of $100,000 for brewery expansion including the purchase and installation of canning equipment.

The company is a recently founded entertainment and dining anchor in downtown Manistee, and set up its brewing operations in a restored historic and previously vacant warehouse on the Manistee River. Brownfield development credits helped the project developers, Capstone Companies, with the revitalization of the property.

“We are grateful to receive the MDARD grant and for the support of the City of Manistee as well as area organizations,” stated Dawn Ford, one of the co-owners of North Channel Brewing. “This support allows us to purchase canning equipment and additional fermenters that will create year-round jobs, retain good workers and expand our marketing area.”

The added equipment will provide year-round employment for three employees and new employment for two to three additional workers over the course of the next two years. The equipment will also allow North Channel Brewing to expand distribution and reach new customers. The brewery recently entered into a distribution partnership with Ludington Beverage Company, and the new canning line and expanded production capacity will allow for distribution of packaged products to multiple retailers.

Letters of support accompanied the winning application from the City of Manistee, Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, Manistee County Visitors Bureau, and the Manistee Downtown Development Authority.

“We performed a retention visit with North Channel Brewing and learned about their brewery expansion and workforce retention plans in September,” stated Marc Miller, economic development director for the Chamber. “We passed along information before the end of the business day, and identified their applicability for the grant and its potential to expand year-round jobs for Manistee.”

North Channel Brewing was one of 110 applications for the rural development grant. A total of $8.4 million was requested, which was approximately eight times the available funding for the program.