The U.S. Commerce Department is awarding a $1.6 million grant to the Southern Aroostook Development Corporation of Houlton to help build a processing plant that will make food for mice used in laboratory research.

The project is expected to create 17 new jobs and generate $4 million in private investment, according to a news release from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The grant announced Tuesday comes through the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration.

“This grant will help bring more jobs to the County,” said Congressman Jared Golden of Maine.

“Our state needs to look for new ways to bring Maine products to market and grow our economy. The food-processing plant built by this grant, along with the 17 new jobs it will create, will help to achieve those goals,” Golden said.

This project will support the construction of the 12,000 square-foot Murine Food Production Facility in Houlton Industrial Park. It’s expected to produce four million pounds of laboratory research food annually for large research laboratories in Maine and California.

The project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Southern Aroostook Development Corporation.