OREANDA-NEWS. Consumers Energy officials demonstrated their commitment to their hometown and Michigan today by celebrating their new Innovation Center, a downtown hub to promote leading-edge ideas within the company, the community and across Michigan.

"The Consumers Energy Innovation Center will serve as a space where our company can continue to explore new ideas, methods and technology across industries," said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy's CEO-elect.

"We are promoting collaboration and potential partnerships between our company, universities, startups, investors, entrepreneurs, non-profits, innovators and businesses," Poppe added. "Innovation is good for our customers and has been critical to our company for nearly 130 years."

The four-story Innovation Center offers space for members of Consumers Energy's strategic innovation, smart energy and energy efficiency teams, and will serve as an incubator for startup companies that are looking to grow in Michigan.

Consumers Energy has a long tradition of innovation, whether it's as the utility that electrified Michigan's farms or more recently pioneering the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to survey its equipment. The company sees the Innovation Center – which once was home to Jackson'sF.W. Woolworth Co. store – as a center of excellence that will help integrate new technologies, services and ideas that will better serve customers.

Open workspaces within the building will promote collaboration and the exchange of ideas. The Innovation Center also houses the Anchor Initiative, an effort that Consumers Energy and 22 other Jackson employers have supported to encourage downtown development.

"John Emmerling, an innovation thought leader, once said, 'Innovation is creativity with a job to do' — and that is exactly how I view this space," Poppe said.

"Many people will come to this building every day to do their jobs in a creative space that inspires innovation, while growing the Jackson community and aiding in Michigan's economic revitalization."

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