Cutting the Ribbon at SMART Park

Published by Bob Hance on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 in MEC Smart Park

On March 26, we officially unveiled the entrance to the Southwest Michigan Advanced Research & Technology (SMART) Park. It was the culmination of years of planning and construction.

To celebrate, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony with our board of directors, the Village of Cassopolis, Norsk Hydro (SMART Park’s first resident), and community and construction partners. The entrance includes a beautiful sign off of M-60. Plus, we added digital signage along the boulevard that matches what you see downtown to create a consistent Cass feel.

Then, my team snuck in a surprise. I had planned all along to name the boulevard Imagine Way to pay homage to the Imagine Cass effort and to reflect what is possible when a community comes together to imagine a sustainable future. However, they had other plans and dubbed the boulevard Hance Boulevard. While I am extremely humbled and honored by this, I must point out that none of this would have happened without our board reminding us of what is possible and the commitment of our community partners, such as the Village of Cassopolis and Market Van Buren.

If you aren’t familiar with our SMART Park, it is a center for technology and industry located next to our headquarters in Cassopolis. It’s one of only a handful of nationwide sites to earn designation as a CN Rail Ready Site, ensuring businesses have the access they need to start production sooner and easier. Furthermore, our development covenants protect the rural character of Cassopolis.

The first SMART Park tenant, Norsk Hydro, held an opening ceremony last November and is in full production. The $150 million aluminum recycling plant has brought 70 livable-wage jobs to Cass, and Hydro is currently transitioning its technology center to the facility, which means additional jobs and economic investment.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the true visionary behind SMART Park: Ed Lowe. He had the land zoned specifically for this purpose, and now we have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make this field of dreams into a reality.

About The Author

Bob Hance

Bob Hance is the President/CEO of Midwest Energy & Communications.