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USDA Visits Cherry Republic

On May 24th, Cherry Republic had the honor of hosting USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres-Small to its Downtown Traverse City retail store. The USDA visit was prompted by the recent signing of the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill. Torres-Small, along with USDA State Director for Rural Development Brandon Fewins, wanted to see first-hand some of the projects underway in Northern Michigan that are tied to infrastructure.

I’m really enjoying the opportunity to learn from Traverse City, to feel the dedication to community, to feel the entrepreneurial spirit that’s here.

USDA Undersecretary Xochitl Torres-Small

They stopped by Cherry Republic to chat with CEO Todd Ciolek and VP of Fulfillment Roni Hazelton about how two grants issued through the Rural Energy for America Program are helping to advance Cherry Republic’s business and supporting the community. Ciolek and Hazelton explained that the funds were used for two projects.

The first was installing a solar panel roof system to Cherry Republic’s headquarters building in Glen Arbor, which have provided even more energy than needed to run the building. The second was an expansion of Cherry Republic’s distribution and fulfillment centers in Empire, doubling the space and upgrading equipment and lighting.

“This expansion has allowed us to keep 40+ year-round jobs in the town, as well as over 100+ seasonal jobs,” Ciolek shared. โ€œThese grants from the USDA are very important because it typically doesnโ€™t make financial sense always, to do something in a small town with logistics and the pool of resources. It added that extra incentive for Cherry Republic to make these investments in our small towns.โ€

The USDA grants have helped us to support our green vision with new lighting and improved HVAC systems at our Empire Distribution and Fulfillment Center, as well as improve our efficiencies within the plant.

Roni Hazelton, Vice President of Fulfillment

Hazelton echoed those sentiments and commented on the grants effect on Cherry Republic’s environmental initiatives. “The USDA grants have helped us to support our green vision with new lighting and improved HVAC systems at our Empire Distribution and Fulfillment Center, as well as improve our efficiencies within the plant.”

After touring the Traverse City store, Undersecretary Torres-Small sampled some of Cherry Republic’s products, including Montmorency Dried Cherries and Cherry Salsa, before making a small purchase to take back home.

“I’m really enjoying the opportunity to learn from Traverse City, to feel the dedication to community, to feel the entrepreneurial spirit that’s here,โ€ Torres-Small said.

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