A Great Place to Live, Work and Grow
Published October 2011
Coldwater, Mich., population 10,945, is celebrating its 150th birthday this year as a city that has become, as it proudly proclaims, “A Great Place to Live, Work and Grow.”
This southern Michigan city is the largest city and seat of Branch County, located halfway between Chicago and Detroit along the Old Sauk Trail (U.S. 12 Heritage Route). Coldwater became an incorporated city in 1861, about 40 years after the Potawatomi tribe sold settlers the land that included the future Branch County and 30 years after the first log cabin was erected within today’s city limits.
Business and development
Aided by a favorable location at the junction of U.S. 12 and I-69, a strong economic development effort led by the Branch County Economic Growth Alliance, and a sound utility infrastructure, Coldwater is home to an extensive list of businesses representing a wide variety of industries. These include retail (Wal-Mart Distribution Center, the county’s largest private employer), automotive and truck parts manufacturing (Honda supplier Asama Coldwater Manufacturing) and food and beverage (Perfection Bakery), as well as healthcare, agriculture, lumber and wood products, foam manufacturing, aluminum recycling, fabricated metal and transportation.
Recreation and the arts
High-quality recreation should be no surprise in a county boasting 101 lakes. Prominent among these are two chains of lakes – the 12-mile-long Craig Lake Chain (north) bordering Coldwater on the west and the 15-mile-long Coldwater Lake Chain (south). These draw thousands of outdoor enthusiasts for boating, swimming, canoeing, fishing, bass tournaments, sail boat racing, hiking, biking and more.
Coldwater also has a first-class park system. Designed to promote both fun and fitness, it features more than a dozen parks providing facilities for swimming, soccer, softball, baseball, tennis and golf, as well as walking and biking trails. The city’s vibrant downtown, a pleasant mixture of 19th and 20th century architectural history, shopping and dining (plus free Wi-Fi), features a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. These include the StrawberryFest, AppleFest, IceFest and Entertainment Under The Stars.
Tying history, culture and the arts together in Coldwater is the 499-seat Tibbits Opera House, which, at 129 years old, is the second-oldest theater in Michigan. This popular venue hosts a variety of cultural activities that include theater, comedy, music and more. Joining it is the significantly younger Capri Drive-In Movie Theater, built in 1964 at the peak of drive-in movie popularity. It’s been recognized in the New York Times as one of the best drive-ins in the country.
Coldwater Board of Public Utilities positioning Coldwater for the future
Delivering value-based electric energy to 6,800 meters, the Coldwater Board of Public Utilities (CBPU) is among 82 of the nation’s more than 2,000 public power utilities to earn Reliable Public Power Provider (RP3) recognition from the American Public Power Association for providing the highest degree of reliable and safe electric service.
Coldwater, along with four other AMP member communities, is a founding member of Michigan South Central Power Agency (MSCPA). As such, it is a co-owner of the 55-megawatt coal-fired Endicott electric generation station in Litchfield, which, along with AMP, provides Coldwater with its wholesale power needs. In March, Coldwater celebrated paying off its MSCPA debt associated with Endicott and diesel generation purchases.
Recent and current projects by the CPBU, which also serves Coldwater’s telecommunications needs, reflect both growth and an eye on the future. These include:
Rebuilding one of its main substations to improve reliability and be better prepared to meet future demand.
Building a substation for a new customer – Canadian-based Mastronardi Produce – that selected Coldwater as the site for a large-scale, carbon-negative greenhouse operation. Mastronardi, which distributes tomatoes and other produce under the Sunset® brand to Michigan-based Meijers and other grocery chains, will operate its greenhouses year round to ship fresh produce across the U.S.
Installing a ChargePoint Networked® electric vehicle charging station in the downtown. The station, designed for full electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, is a pilot project to ensure the CBPU’s infrastructure is “plug-in ready” for the future. Coldwater will offer users free charging courtesy of the city in the initial phase.
Building a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) fiber optic network that will support advanced, high-speed communications. Business and commercial customers are being connected now, with all residential customers expected to be connected within two to three years. The new network would also provide the infrastructure for the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system that the CPBU is considering. AMI enhances energy efficiency, cost savings and reliability by allowing two-way communication between a customer’s energy-management smart meter and the utility.
AMP programs and projects
As a member of AMP, Coldwater participates in numerous AMP programs and projects that assist in providing reliable energy and other benefits to the community and its citizen/owners. These include:
- Eco$mart Choice, a green pricing program that allows Coldwater consumer-owners to offset all or a portion of their monthly electric usage through the purchase of renewable energy credits.
- Michigan AMP Service Group (MASG).
- Meldahl/Greenup, which includes a new hydroelectric project under construction on the Meldahl dam and a portion of power produced by an existing hydro plant at the Greenup dam, both on the Ohio River.
- Phase 1 Hydro, which includes hydroelectric projects under construction on the Smithland, Cannelton and Willow Island dams on the Ohio River.
- Prairie State Energy Campus, a state-of-the-art generating station that will be among the cleanest coal-fueled plants in the U.S. and a valuable power asset to Coldwater and other AMP member communities in five states starting in 2012.
Fremont Energy Center, a natural gas combined-cycle generation plant that will begin operation in 2012.
Visit Coldwater’s website