PIERZ - A unique local business is the latest recipient of a significant development grant.

Smude's  Natural Sunflower Oil, located in Pierz, will use a $298,500 Value-Added Producer Grant from the USDA to expand the production, marketing and distribution of their all-natural sunflower-based cooking oil.

Owners Tom and Jenni Smude were presented with the grant earlier today at the business by USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer.

Carol Anderson is the Executive Director of Morrison County's Community Development office. She's been heavily involved with the Smude's business for several years, and says Tom Smude built the now-successful enterprise during tough times.

Smude's sunflower products are currently in about 100 stores and restaurants as well as online.

The low-cholesterol oil comes from 150 acres of sunflowers, and all of the by-product from the process is repurposed as livestock feed.

They're the only producer of sunflower oil in Minnesota.