COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP — High-tech floriculture will soon be blossoming in Kalamazoo county, with construction of Hark Orchids’ 35,000-square-foot laboratory and climate chambers at Midlink Business Park.
A ceremonial ground-breaking event will be held Thursday, Oct. 4 at the five-acre lot purchased by Hark Orchids from Midlink, a former General Motors plant at I-94 and Sprinkle Road, in August.
The German company, which specializes in the hybridization, cultivation and propagation of orchids, plans to invest $6.5 million at the lab — its first in the United States — and create up to 80 jobs in the next three to five years. The Michigan Economic Development Corp., the regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First and Kalamazoo County supported the project with grants.
Midlink Business Park president David Smith noted that Hark’s “innovative technologies are bound to spark growth in our region’s greenhouse community and bring additional high-skilled jobs to Kalamazoo.”
The Kalamazoo area is already a major center for the bedding plant industry in the United States, with hundreds of acres under cultivation of annual flowering plants.
According to Smith, Hark is yet another example of how Midlink can offer companies tremendous value by providing a significant savings of time and money.
“We’ve done the hard work. We put the infrastructure in place, years ago. We built the roads. We installed the public and private utilities,” said Smith. “Land at Midlink is shovel-ready for development, like Hark’s. Add, to that, the best incentives the state can offer, and Midlink is the ideal site.”
The Oct. 4 festivities will continue at Midlink with a nod to Hark’s German heritage in an appropriately-themed Oktoberfest gala. The party will begin with a Ceremonial Tapping “Angezapft” of the keg; live music and food will follow, and gifts of orchids will conclude the event.
According to Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First, the event demonstrates the community’s excitement and gratitude.
“Southwest Michigan First thanks Hark Orchids for selecting our region for location. On behalf of our community partners who were instrumental in our attraction efforts, we welcome Hark and look forward to watching the company grow here in Southwest Michigan,” said Kitchens.
Midlink Business Park offers a 110-acre Renaissance Zone, two multi-tenant industrial buildings totaling more than 1.6 million square feet and, under development, 88 acres of industrial land, a 16-acre retail center and 38-acre office campus. For more information, visit www.midlink.com or call (269) 384-1100.
Southwest Michigan First, founded in 1999, is a privately funded economic development advisory organization that works across all industries throughout the eight counties making up the Southwest Michigan region. More at www.southwestmichiganfirst.com or call (269) 553-9588.
Founded in 1904, Hark Orchideen has grown from a small family gardening business to a specialized orchid laboratory devoted to the cultivation of plants. In its early days though the late 1950s, the company produced vegetables and cut flowers for local markets. It was not until 1949 that Fritz Hark Sr., the father of the current owner, bought his first orchids. His passion and love for these fascinating plants, along with his development of proprietary culture media and propagation methods, laid the foundation for the company’s success today. For more information, visit www.hark-orchideen.de.