News Story

Granholm-Subsidized Biochemicals Incubator Now Makes Ethanol For Cocktails

‘You have to adapt’ says current owner of company once touted as cutting-edge

Working Bugs LLC was one of several state-subsidized companies that 2010 press releases from Gov. Jennifer Granholm characterized as cutting edge.

Working Bugs was honored by Granholm’s Centers of Energy Excellence program and received a $2 million state grant.

According to a 2007 Lansing State Journal article, the company planned to turn the Michigan Brewing Company brewery in Webberville into a biochemicals incubator. A 2010 press release stated, "Technology developed at this center can be applied to existing biomaterial processing facilities across the state such as corn ethanol plants, beet sugar refineries, and pulp mills to produce new, higher margin products."

But 11 years later, the brewer is known as Red Cedar Spirits Distillery and makes hand sanitizer and distilled ethanol (alcohol) for spiritous liquors such as vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon and brandy.

Dianne Holman, the managing partner of Working Bugs, says her company uses the same technology that was designed to produce biochemicals, just in a different way.

The press releases stated the company had facilities in Sweden and Webberville, but Working Bugs has just one plant now, in East Lansing.

“We are still here,” Holman said. “You have to adapt.”

Kris Berglund, a Michigan State University professor who worked at the Lulea University of Technology in Sweden, was a managing partner of Working Bugs. He died in December 2018.

Holman is the surviving managing partner.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.