June 2, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Former Lions RB Billy Sims plans milk powder processing plant in Michigan

Billy Sims is introduced during a Lions alumni event celebration at Ford Field in October 2013. (Duane Burleson / Associated Press)

Bangor Township — Former Detroit Lions running back Billy Sims is planning a milk powder processing plant in Michigan.

Sims told The Bay City Times that those working on the project are close to purchasing a facility and that Chinese officials will likely travel to Bay County for a July presentation. He said they hope to fill some of China’s demand for milk powder.

“We’re goal-to-go on this and are trying to make Bangor Township a Chinese investment hub,” Sims, 56, told the newspaper. “We have a strong negotiating chain, Chinese lawyers and interpreters on board, and are ready to finalize the deal.”

A facility in Bangor Township, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit, could be used for the plant. A state inspection will determine if that’s appropriate, Sims said. His other business interests include the Billy Sims Barbecue chain, which operates in several states including Michigan.

The building also could house a packaging plant and refrigerated storage area, to keep cherries, apples and blueberries for shipment to China, he said. Bay City businessman Art Dore has owned the building since 2006, when records show he purchased it for $1.1 million.

“Hopefully we can get something kicking in there,” said Dore, who noted that no deal is in place. “We need that kind of activity.”

Sims was drafted first overall by the Lions in 1980. He played five seasons before injuries forced his retirement from the NFL. He finished with 5,106 yards (4.5-yard average) and 42 TD in 60 games.

The Associated Press contributed.