Energy Companies Power Economic Development in Michigan

Kristine Richmond

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

In Michigan, energy companies are part of a streamlined site selection process – a one-stop-shop where site consultants and buyers can sit down with a project team consisting of local economic development organizations, utility partners and more.

When it comes to selecting the perfect site for development, it really is “all about location.”

Proximity to major transportation hubs and a skilled workforce are key factors for companies researching potential sites for a new facility.

Access to a reliable, affordable source of energy is another important consideration. Utilities – and often energy specifically – serve as the deciding factor when determining the right site for development.

In Michigan, companies like DTE Energy and Consumers Energy - recently named an "Editor’s Choice Utility" by Business Facilities for the third consecutive year - are part of a streamlined site selection process – a one-stop-shop where site consultants and buyers can sit down with a project team consisting of local economic development organizations (EDOs), utility partners and various state agencies to negotiate. A majority of business expansion and relocation projects in Michigan have representation at the table from these groups.

“Michigan brings utilities in early in the process. We consider both Consumers Energy and DTE Energy to be strategic partners as we work on deals,” said Valerie Hoag, managing director of Business Initiatives and Customer Support for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). “Having our utility companies at the table is critical to our success.”

These project teams work to match interested companies with the right sites throughout the state and establish confidence in choosing Michigan for their investment. Ensuring the right partners are at the table, including what utilities provide, increases the success of Michigan’s site selection efforts.

“Identifying your energy ready sites and bringing your best sites forward is critical to Michigan’s ability to stay competitive,” added Hoag. “When we’ve done our due diligence on energy, that’s one less step for the buyer.”

Bringing Michigan’s energy companies to the table early in the site selection process has made the state more competitive and responsive to the needs of companies. In 2013, Consumers Energy created a cutting-edge approach to energy ready site preparation. The company sought to find better ways to support the state and the local EDOs to arm them with the competitive energy information for siting, with the goal of making Michigan more competitive globally.

“We talked to those involved in the site selection process to determine improvements from a utility perspective,” said Jeff Mayes, executive director, Business Customer Care at Consumers Energy. “We asked ourselves how we can connect the customer to the best site for their business while also eliminating inadequate sites that do not meet their needs.”

Consumers Energy engaged their engineers to determine how to reverse engineer a site to determine, from an energy usage perspective, what is the best customer to locate there. Through its Energy Ready program, Consumers Energy, along with economic development partners across the state, is better able to match the right site with the right business opportunity.

“The Energy Ready program gives enough energy information about a site to arm decision makers. It’s about being faster in supporting those energy requests and creating more confidence in siting decisions,” added Mayes.

The Energy Ready program is just one area Consumers Energy works to grow business in the state. As Michigan’s largest energy provider, Consumers Energy was designated a Business Facilities 2019 Editor’s Choice Utility and received an Honorable Mention Award in Business Facilities’ 2018 Economic Development Deal of the Year for the Spartan Michigan dairy facility.

Recognizing the critical role talent attraction plays in economic development efforts, Consumers Energy launched the Michigan Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) Academy – the first of its kind in the nation – to help Michigan businesses enhance their talent sources and hire better skilled workers to meet critical short and long-term employment needs. Last year, they joined with DTE and MEDC to announce a $15 billion commitment to spend with Michigan-based companies over a five-year period through the Pure Michigan Business Connect Program.

In April 2019, the MEDC launched its Site Readiness Program to improve Michigan’s overall site intelligence here in the state. For a listing of Michigan sites, including energy ready sites, visit

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