Guest Column

‘Grand bargain’ will be a bargain for the whole state

August 15, 2014
| By Patti Pope |
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Detroit is showing the world what it can do. Recently, Consumers Energy and some of Michigan’s other largest companies showed what we can do for Detroit.

I was privileged to share the stage July 16 with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the leaders of companies like Meijer, DTE Energy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Comerica Bank as we pledged more than $26 million toward Detroit’s “grand bargain.” This is a plan that is helping Detroit emerge from bankruptcy, supports hard-earned pensions for city retirees and preserves the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts for the public.

We at Consumers Energy are doing our part by contributing $800,000. As a Michigan company, we think the benefits of doing this are clear, no matter where you live in our state.

Consumers Energy does not provide electricity or natural gas within Detroit’s city limits, but we know the impact of what happens in Michigan’s largest municipality extends well beyond any geographic borders. Detroit is a hub for business and culture, not to mention home to 700,000 people. We need it to get back on its feet.

That’s why our company, even with its home in Jackson, is helping Detroit. Consumers Energy is donating money from a fund created by its parent company out of a conviction that this grand bargain can help set this city on a path to prosperity for generations to come.

What Consumers Energy is doing in Detroit is no different from the corporate citizenship we, and other caring companies, display in communities across the state. Our company, foundation, employees and retirees gave $8 million to Michigan’s nonprofit organizations last year. That doesn’t count the time that employees donated to causes and passions, whether it’s coaching their child’s soccer team, handing out food at pantries in West Michigan or volunteering at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The “grand bargain” is a lofty title, and indeed this is an effort for the history books. Ultimately, however, it’s just an extension of the sort of charity people and businesses in this state are known for.

We help our neighbors, no matter whether they live next door, down the block or miles away. We do it because it’s the right thing to do and because we know we need each other to be strong. And in the case of the grand bargain and our $800,000 contribution, we’re willing to step up in a big way.

The result? A stronger Detroit and a stronger Michigan. We’re proud to be doing our part.

Patti Poppe is vice president of customer experience, rates and regulation for Consumers Energy. The Michigan-based company serves 6.5 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

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