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The Consumers Energy Foundation today announced $500,000 for two major projects near its downtown headquarters, supporting an incubator for chefs to grow their businesses and the relocation and expansion of the Jackson School of the Arts.

“Consumers Energy is doubling down on our commitment to our hometown, and we are excited to support these two efforts that will create opportunities in downtown Jackson,” said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy’s president and chief executive officer. Poppe announced the grants at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Luncheon today at the Commonwealth Commerce Center.

Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe

“We started more than 130 years ago in Jackson. We are working to create economic and cultural opportunities for all residents in our community, including a vibrant downtown that’s an attractive place to live, work and innovate,” Poppe said.

The Consumers Energy Foundation is providing $300,000 for the Marketplace Food Festival Kitchen, a city-led effort in the former Vermeulen’s Furniture building on Cortland Street to develop space for chefs to hone their skills and develop their businesses as part of the overall $1.3 million project. Work is expected to start in July and be complete by December.

“We’re truly excited to have the Consumers Energy Foundation contributing to make this project a reality for downtown,” said Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies. “Their commitment means we can better foster a culture of entrepreneurship, grow and scale new businesses, and have an incubation hub that can serve as a model for the rest of the state.”

The Jackson School of the Arts is receiving $200,000 to support its relocation to the historic Masonic Temple building on Cortland Street where it will create a center for the arts and offer programs in the visual and performing arts. The new downtown destination will also include an exhibit gallery and retail space. The organization’s enrollment has grown 2,000 percent in the last decade, creating the need to expand. Its mission to make the arts accessible to all regardless of income remains the same.   

“This generous grant is an investment in our community and in the thousands of people we are already serving with enriching arts education programs. It also gives our robust organization room to grow,” said Kim Curtis, Jackson School of the Arts executive director. “A vibrant arts center in our downtown will have immense social, cultural and economic benefits and will impact generations to come.”

Consumers Energy is committed to the success of its hometown in several ways. The energy provider:

  • Was a founding member of the Jackson Anchor Initiative, a collaboration among several businesses to promote Jackson.
  • Renovated the former Woolworth Building into its Innovation Center two years ago.
  • Recently announced the new Jackson Smart Energy District, which will promote the next generation of energy technology in the downtown area. The company will be issuing a request for proposals nationally for third parties to develop new technologies in the district.
  • Helped Jackson earn honors for being the second-most energy efficient small city in the nation last year, with an eye on being No. 1.

“We want to do our part to help Jackson and the entire state of Michigan to thrive and provide opportunities for the current and the next generation of residents,” Poppe said. “We look forward to continuing to power up ideas that make our community an even better place to live.”

Consumers Energy, its foundation, employees and retirees last year contributed over $17 million to Michigan nonprofits. The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy, providing funds for education, community, civic and cultural development, social services, the environment, and emerging issues.

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