A historic Battle Creek building will get new life, after a $2 million grant.  The St. Philip Tiger Room will become a food processing incubator to serve the region’s food processing firms.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced on Friday that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding the $2 million grant to Battle Creek Unlimited.   The EDA grant, to be matched with $2 million in local funding, is expected to create more than 100 jobs and generate $8 million in private investment.

The idea was proposed about six years ago by Father John Fleckenstein, Pastor at St. Philip Parish.  A $125,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture got the ball rolling on the project.

“President Trump is working diligently to boost locally-driven workforce training initiatives designed to support businesses, facilitate job creation, and strengthen our economy,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The Battle Creek Unlimited Southwest Michigan Accelerator Kitchen will provide the expertise needed to support the region’s critical food manufacturing and restaurant industries.”

“Battle Creek Unlimited, in partnership with St. Philip Parish, will create an accelerator food production hub in a historic building that will service two early-stage food production companies,” said Dana Gartzke,

The Accelerator Kitchen will provide the area’s high-growth food processors with a facility that will enable product testing and provide the workforce training necessary to spur the regional economy.”

The building, known as the “Tiger Room” has been owned by the church since 1960.  But it was built in 1902 as a state-of-the-art fireproof factory building for the American Steam Pump Company.  In recent years, the building has been home to the St. Philip Thrift Shop in the bottom level..

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