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Upton Applauds Department of Commerce Grant for Cassopolis SMART Park

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, applauded a $6 million Department of Commerce grant awarded to Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) to construct the needed road, sewer, and water infrastructure to support its world-class, 234-acre Southwest Michigan Advanced Research and Technology (SMART) Park in Cassopolis. This grant – which is funded through the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) – will be matched with $6 million in local funds and is expected to create 248 jobs and generate some $14 million in private investment in the region.

“This $6 million investment is welcome news for the good folks in Cassopolis and efforts to spur local economic development,” said Rep. Upton. “With the closure of the Palisades Nuclear Plant fast approaching, the construction of the new SMART Park will create good-paying jobs, attract private investment, and keep families rooted in Cassopolis. I am glad to know this grant will positively impact the local community and benefit the Southwest Michigan economy at large.”

“We are tremendously thankful for Congressman Upton’s efforts to get this grant approved and delivered, and even more excited to get to work on this important project,” said Midwest Energy & Communications President and CEO, Bob Hance, and Vice President of Regulatory Compliance, Dave Allen. “This is a significant investment that will create jobs and generate economic activity here in Cass County. Again, we’re grateful to Congressman Upton and look forward to the major contributions the SMART Park will have on our communities.”  

“The Economic Development Administration is pleased to support Midwest Energy & Communications’ efforts to build an industrial and tech park that will create much need, good-paying jobs,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This investment will diversify the local economy by attracting high-tech companies involved in the critical solar, fiber optics, data-hosting, agriculture and food sectors as the region prepares for the closure of the Palisades Nuclear Plant.”

Earlier this year, Upton submitted a community project funding request through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Economic Development Initiative to help construct the SMART Park and redevelop the downtown streetscape in Cassopolis for fiscal year 2022. It was subsequently included in the House Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee’s FY 22 appropriations bill at $2 million.

This project is funded under the EDA’s Assistance to Nuclear Closure Communities program which seeks to alleviate the significant impact of sudden job losses and reductions of the local tax base on communities across the nation – including Southwest Michigan – due to nuclear plant closures.

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