Maker of eco-friendly food cart investing $13M in Walker

A courtesy photo of MOVE Systems International's MRV100 eco-friendly food cart.

WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — A new venture will create 27 new jobs and pump $13 million into the West Michigan economy.

MOVE Systems International will be manufacturing its MRV100 eco-friendly mobile food carts and electricity pedestal devises in Walker. The company will add 27 jobs and invest $13 million to increase production and add machinery at its facility on Northridge Drive off Fruit Ridge Avenue NW.

MOVE’s eco-friendly food carts, which are popular with street vendors in New York City, are equipped with a solar roof, propane gas, lithium battery and everything else found in a typical food truck. The electricity pedestal devices, called Simple Grid, eliminate pollution created by idling emergency vehicle and food truck engines.

The people at MOVE Systems think their clean and quiet running trailers are just what New York’s 5,000 hot dogs vendors are looking for.

“This is a mobile food cart for the 21st Century, a restaurant-quality kitchen, all used on alternative power,” MOVE Systems CEO James Meeks said.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation; local economic development agency The Right Place, Inc.; Wakestream Ventures and Start Garden announced the collaboration with MOVE Wednesday at Rosa Park Circles in Grand Rapids.

It’s the first large-scale corporate expansion project for Start Garden, a local group that generally helps support smaller entrepreneurs by connecting them with resources. MOVE Systems International had been courted by other states, but says help from Start Garden really made a difference.

“Start Garden isn’t just handing out checks,” Meeks said. “They’re really working with the companies to make sure they’re integrated with the fabric, and a company like this needs that kind of support.”

“It’s really cool to see all the progress that MOVE has made,” Start Garden founder Rick DeVos said.

Start Garden has been helping fund and support entrepreneurial startups since launching in 2012. The concept goes beyond raising monetary capital for startups; the agency also arranges intellectual and social capital, creating what it calls an ecosystem for new business ventures.

“Connecting entrepreneurs with local manufacturers, with institutions and a whole plethora of people, that kind of comes around that entrepreneur and that concept,” DeVos said. “If you have an ecosystem where people are investing those other forms of capital, you’re just so much more effective than just writing checks.”