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Benton Harbor Site Ready to Compete for Business After Certification Through American Electric Power Quality Site Program

First Site in Berrien County Michigan With This Designation

Published Monday, June 15, 2015 11:00 am

June 15, 2015 (Benton Harbor, MI) AEP – Indiana Michigan Power announced today that the site located at 2274 Yore Avenue in Benton Harbor Charter Township participated in the AEP Quality Site Program and has been officially certified as a project ready site by McCallum Sweeney Consulting (MSC). 

“As companies determine where they will relocate or expand operations, they are searching for sites that are ready to develop which allows for a quick turnaround time. The site in Benton Harbor is a great location due to its size and proximity to major highways,” said Lindsey M. Myers, Senior Consultant/Director, Site Readiness Program for MSC, based in Greenville, South Carolina.

In September 2013, AEP through its local operating company, Indiana Michigan Power, reached out to Cornerstone Alliance, Berrien County’s lead economic development organization, to take the proactive steps necessary to transform 255 acres of farmland into a certified industrial site.

“As an economic development partner, we recognize the benefits communities reap from having project-ready industrial sites available. We are thankful for the partnership between AEP - Indiana Michigan Power, McCallum Sweeney Consultants and Cornerstone Alliance which has allowed this site to compete for new business at the national level, potentially bringing many new jobs to the area,” said Paul Chodak, Indiana Michigan Power President and Chief Operating Officer.   

Project ready certification is granted to sites deemed ready for new development and job creation. Sites with this designation are nationally recognized by corporate real-estate executives and site selection consultants as a mark of excellence, mitigating risk in the development phase and achieving an overall “speed to business” confidence level.

The Meadowbrook and Yore site’s certification falls within the large park category as it met the minimum requirement of at least 250 acres. According to the MSC team, key advantages for this site included the close proximity to the I-94 corridor, the presence of a robust utility infrastructure and the workforce development training opportunities at both Lake Michigan College and Western Michigan University Southwest Campus.  

This highly visible site is optimal for a wide range of uses including food and beverage processing, advanced manufacturing and logistics/distribution. The site is located 1.2 miles off of 1-94 and is 180 interstate miles to Detroit and 90 interstate miles to Chicago. It is easily accessible to I-80, I-90 and U.S. 31. The one day round- trip road service to domestic and foreign markets make the certified site easily accessible to 15 U.S. states and Ontario, Canada, comprising 37 million of the U.S. population and 13.6 million of Ontario population. 

 “Michigan is again a major player in business attraction, ranking among the top 10 states for new business investment. Having the first project-ready certified site in Berrien County is a step forward in our strategy to grow jobs and private investments in our County,” said Greg Vaughn, Chief Operating Officer and VP Business Development, Cornerstone Alliance. “We are delighted to promote this desirable property that enhances the economic vibrancy of Berrien County.”

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About American Electric Power

American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5.3 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 32,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a 40,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP’s transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. AEP’s utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP’s headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.

About Indiana Michigan Power

Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its 2,450 employees serve more than 589,000 customers. It operates 2,600 MW of coal-fired generation in Indiana, 2,160 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan and 22 MW of hydro generation in both states.  The company also provides its customers 450 MW of purchased wind generation.

About Cornerstone Alliance

Cornerstone Alliance is a non-profit, investor-governed, economic development organization primarily focused on increasing employment opportunities, private sector capital investments and the local tax base in Michigan’s Great Southwest; with specialized business services offered in economically distressed areas.