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Cornerstone Alliance, I&M Create Small Business Facade Grant Program in Benton Harbor, St. Joseph

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Cornerstone Alliance, Berrien County’s lead economic development agency, is partnering with Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) to help businesses improve the exterior appeal of their establishments as well as become more energy efficient.

Cornerstone Alliance and I&M are launching a Small Business Façade Grant program in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. Cornerstone Alliance has initiated very successful commercial façade programs in the past that led to increased investment and an improved business climate in façade-eligible areas.

“The goal of the Small Business Façade Grant program is to extend the useful life of buildings located in some of the community’s most visible commercial districts,” said Stephanie Scott-Sims, Director of Entrepreneurship and Placemaking at Cornerstone Alliance. “Thanks to funding from I&M, this grant will not only address the outward appearance of the building, but also provide business owners with measures they can implement to increase the building’s energy efficiency.”

Small Business Façade Grants are available for the repair, maintenance, or rehabilitation of the exterior faces of existing commercial buildings. Grant recipients may be eligible for additional grant funding toward the purchase of energy efficiency products.

Priority will be given to properties in the following areas:

·     Downtown Benton Harbor and the Arts District

·     The Niles Road Commercial Corridor (Niles Road between Napier Avenue and Hilltop Road)

·     The M-139 Corridor in Benton Township (between Pipestone Road and Interstate 94)

Combining façade enhancements along with I&M’s energy efficiency upgrades ensures a universal approach to business improvement.

“I&M has a role to play in the communities where we live and work. Our employees work daily for our customers to provide the tools and products needed to succeed,” said Toby Thomas, I&M President and Chief Operating Officer. “I&M is proud to partner with Cornerstone Alliance to strengthen economic growth in Southwest Michigan.”

Indiana Michigan Power will provide grant recipients a Level 1 Energy Audit conducted by a local Energy Efficiency Coordinator. The results will provide insights on achievable energy reduction measures demonstrate cost-saving opportunities and highlight sustainability impacts. By implementing these energy saving proposals, customers then become eligible to receive up to $100,000 in rebates and incentives to offset energy projects through I&M’s Prescriptive and Custom programs.

Grant applications and details can be found on the newly-designed Cornerstone Alliance web site (link). The revamped web site provides enriched content and a sleek design created by Holt Bosse, a full-service marketing firm based in St. Joseph, Michigan.

Cornerstone Alliance will consider and award grants between February 1 and August 1 of each year. For additional information, please contact Stephanie Scott-Sims at (269) 925-6100, extension 147.

 

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.

 

About Indiana Michigan Power

Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its 2,450 employees serve more than 593,900 customers. More than half of its generation is emission-free, including 2,278 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan, 450 MW of purchased wind generation from Indiana, 22 MW of hydro generation in both states and approximately 15 MW of large-scale solar generation in both states. The company’s generation portfolio also includes 2,600 MW of coal-fueled generation in Indiana.

American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, is focused on building a smarter energy infrastructure and delivering new technologies and custom energy solutions to our customers. AEP’s more than 17,000 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 219,000 miles of distribution lines to efficiently deliver safe, reliable power to nearly 5.4 million regulated customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 32,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including 4,300 megawatts of renewable energy. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities 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 also owns AEP Energy, AEP Energy Partners, AEP OnSite Partners and AEP Renewables, which provide innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide.