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Consumers Energy Foundation Provides $150,000 Prosperity Award to Transform Owosso School into Artists Community

OWOSSO, Mich., Dec. 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The Consumers Energy Foundation announced a $150,000 grant to transform Owosso Middle School into a residential and professional community for up to 30 artists. The grant is part of $500,000 in new Prosperity Awards to strengthen communities across Michigan.

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The Chamber Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce will use the grant to take the first steps in renovating the middle school building next year, when students move to a new school. The ArtLive project will feature living and working space with retail outlets for residents, as well as a community kitchen for entrepreneurs.

"The Owosso community is taking big steps to make itself a more vibrant place to live and work, and ArtLive is an idea that will make the community a regional destination," said Brandon Hofmeister, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. "We are excited to offer a Prosperity Award that will have a direct and significant impact on the community."

Today's announcement was made during a networking event co-hosted by the Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership. Officials from Consumers Energy were joined by community and regional leaders.

The grant will support the Chamber Foundation as it creates a redevelopment plan that will serve as an incentive to a potential developer. A feasibility study for the building use, creation of a brownfield plan, architectural renderings and more will help ensure the historic building is redeveloped in a timely manner.

"The city of Owosso has long been an impoverished community, but over the last seven years, an upturn in development and collaboration began. We have seen some really substantial development in the downtown historic district including the Lebowsky Center for Performing Arts, the Wessener Building and the Owosso Armory, which sits right next to the middle school," Chamber President/CEO Jeff Deason said. "This grant gives us the opportunity to build on the prosperity that has been generated. We can make sure the middle school building is a useful jewel of Owosso."

The Consumers Energy Foundation has contributed $500,000 to Michigan nonprofits through its Prosperity Awards this year. Those include a $250,000 grant to support housing upgrades and ownership in Flint and $100,000 to expand the popular Kalamazoo Farmers Market.

The Prosperity Awards are the second of three $500,000 grant allocations this year totaling $1.5 million. Planet Awards winners were announced in April, and applications for People Awards to support job readiness are being reviewed.

The Consumers Energy Foundation is Consumers Energy's charitable arm. In 2018, the Consumers Energy Foundation, Consumers Energy and its employees and retirees contributed more than $18.5 million to Michigan nonprofits. For more information, visit www.ConsumersEnergy.com/foundation.

Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest energy provider, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and/or electricity to 6.7 million of the state's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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SOURCE Consumers Energy