A pair of projects within sight of the Consumers Energy headquarters are receiving backing from the Jackson-based energy provider.
The Consumers Energy Foundation announced it’s giving $300,000 to develop a food festival kitchen and $200,000 to the Jackson School of the Arts. The projects are both on Cortland Street at the old Vermeulen’s building and Masonic Temple.
Both buildings are owned by the city of Jackson, which received them for $100 from Lynn Vermeulen in August 2017.
“Consumers Energy is doubling down on our commitment to our hometown,” said President and CEO Patti Poppe in a press release. “We are excited to support these two efforts that will create opportunities in downtown Jackson.”
The food festival kitchen will be a prize for a downtown Jackson festival, designed to be a food-version of Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize. The competition won’t likely start until 2019, Mayor Derek Dobies said.
The winner receives the competition kitchen space rent and utility free for a year to operate as a restaurant. The goal is to allow businesses to save up enough money to move into a space of its own after the year, Dobies said.
In the midst of a campaign to raise $2 million to move downtown, the Jackson School of the Arts is designing the historic Masonic Temple into a vibrant downtown arts center.
Starting with 40 students in 2001, the organization now serves about 1,000 students with art, dance and theater classes.
Roughly $17 million was given by Consumers, its foundation, its employees and its retirees in 2017.
“We started more than 130 years ago in Jackson,” Poppe said in the release. “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.”