Cooper Family Spreads wins Barrier Buster Award

(From left to right): MSU Product Center director Tom Lyons, Elaine and Jeffrey Cooper and senior associate director Brenda Reau.

(From left to right): MSU Product Center director Tom Lyons, Elaine and Jeffrey Cooper and senior associate director Brenda Reau.

LANSING – The MSU Product Center hosted its 10th annual Making It In Michigan conference and trade show on Nov. 7.

The event, which was held at the Lansing Center, provides specialty food entrepreneurs with an opportunity to showcase their products and connect with buyers from retail markets. During the conference, awards were presented recognizing outstanding Product Center clients.

The recognizes a Product Center client for overcoming barriers to success at any point in the development of the venture. Entrepreneurs must be tenacious in overcoming these barriers.

This year’s award was presented to Elaine and Jesse Cooper of Cooper Family Spreads.

Cooper Family Spreads makes jams and jellies in their west Michigan licensed kitchen and distributes throughout West Michigan and the Detroit area. The family operation is run by a mother and son, Elaine and Jesse Cooper.

The business started in 1994, after Elaine’s husband unexpectedly passed away. In 2009, Elaine and Jesse moved to their current location and built a larger licensed kitchen where they now make products more efficiently.

Due to their faith, they face particular challenges in how they can communicate, present and market themselves. They do not have a computer in their home or business so they cannot search for and compare suppliers, create promotional materials, receive email attachments, or easily have a web or Facebook page.

They have grown their business through ambitious face-to-face marketing to small and medium retail outlets throughout west Michigan, and have traveled to Detroit and Chicago to make additional connections.

Elaine and Jesse have shown incredible determination and courage in meeting each challenge head-on as it presents itself, finding creative adaptations to keep them moving forward with their business.

Cooper Family Spreads are currently in over 80 stores in west Michigan and Detroit. With more capacity to produce, they are offering a private label service to bed and breakfasts, resorts, and small companies wanting custom jams and jellies or similar products. They are continually reaching out to expand their presence in small to medium size markets in Michigan.

Founded in 2003, the MSU Product Center helps Michigan entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value, consumer-responsive products and businesses in the agriculture, natural resources and bio-economy sectors.

The Product Center’s statewide network of innovation counselors provides business counseling support to Michigan residents interested in starting or expanding a business or product line.

The Product Center’s assistance in launching 634 known new businesses and business expansions.


Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or

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