Midwest Energy Cooperative closes its 901 E. State Street doors at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25, and reopens as Midwest Energy & Communications on Monday, Aug. 28 at its new headquarters location at 60590 Decatur Road in Cassopolis.
The member-owned cooperative, known previously as Fruit Belt Electric and Southeastern Energy before the 1998 merger resulting in Midwest Energy Cooperative, has been headquartered at the current location since 1940. The addition of the fiber internet project in 2014 caused significant growth in both employees and equipment, forcing co-op officials to consider solutions for the already cramped and inefficient space on E. State Street. With limited ability to expand, Midwest purchased land at the intersection of Decatur Road and M60 and built a new facility.
“We evaluated a number of options, including renovations at the current site and building on a new site. Our board and leadership team took significant time to weigh all of the options to best accommodate our needs and serve our members and customers,” said Bob Hance, president/CEO. “Building new allowed us to design a space with operational and functional efficiencies, while incorporating some state-of-the-art energy and technology advancements.
“Cassopolis has been our home for nearly 80 years, and we knew we wanted to stay in the local community as it’s very central to the majority of our electric co-op members,” Hance said.
The new facility was designed to accommodate the growing staff, better protect corporate capital assets like vehicles and servers, and create a more efficient and functional work environment. It also features many opportunities for members and customers to learn and interact, including a lobby “smart home” feature that demonstrates the many automation solutions that make your home more efficient, safe, fun, and easy to use.
The public is encouraged to visit the lobby and learn more about emerging technology any Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
As plans for the new facility were underway, officials also recognized the opportune time to change the name to Midwest Energy and Communications (MEC) to better reflect the full line of services now available. “As any organization offers new products or services, it’s easy to become fragmented with different teams, different names, and different locations,” Hance explained. “We will no longer operate as Midwest Energy Cooperative, Midwest Propane, and Midwest Connections.
“This change represents the blending of our rich history with our dynamic, vibrant future,” Hance said. “While we’re still firmly rooted in electric distribution and have a thriving, long-term propane business, energy is only part of our story as we now are a full-service communications company.”
Midwest embarked on a five-year plan in 2015 to deploy fiber internet across its southwest Michigan service territory. This week marks the 5000th in-home installation.
Hance reinforced that MEC is the same member-owned cooperative with the same local people and same commitment to reliability and customer solutions. “We’re just operating now with one voice and name as we live out our message that geography does not have to define a person’s scope of opportunity, and small-town life doesn’t mean giving up on better living.”