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Sites Get ‘VIP’ Treatment In Southeast Michigan

The Detroit, MI region put the world on wheels. As the pace of vehicle electrification accelerates, more electric vehicle (EV) and EV component manufacturers and other energy-intensive industries will need more sites quicker than ever.

The challenge is identifying and categorizing sites to give prospective energy-intensive businesses a clearer, up-to-the-minute picture of available sites and their attributes. That includes a broad site inventory that categorizes parcels according to each business’ needs—from existing or upgradeable energy infrastructure onsite to the site’s ability to accommodate long-term growth goals.

Detroit Regional Partnership
The Detroit Regional Partnership region’s Flint Commerce Center site is part of a growing roster of top-tier VIP program site options. (Photo: Detroit Regional Partnership)


Enter the Verified Industrial Properties (VIP) program. VIP is led by the Detroit Regional Partnership (DRP), a public-private economic development partnership. VIP is designed to advance industrial site readiness across the 11-county Detroit region. With engagement from partners, including Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest electric and natural gas utility and a longstanding Business Facilities Top Utility in Economic Development, the initiative is changing the way the region and state approach site readiness.

“Corporations are making location decisions faster and faster as they try to sift through sites across multiple states,” said Shannon Selby, DRP’s Vice President of Real Estate Services. “Our VIP program proactively gathers site data that’s verified by third-party engineers so site selectors can quickly assess if a property is worth consideration. We do the initial due diligence for them. This is all about catering to the speed-to-market needs of our clients and shaves weeks, if not months, off project timelines.”

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) provided seed funding for the VIP program in 2020. Leaning into a shared vision for a broader, more intelligent industrial site inventory, the DRP joined forces with Consumers Energy and other stakeholders in 2021 to bring the VIP program to life.

“The VIP program is cultivating a solid inventory of industrial sites that boosts Michigan’s competitive advantage. Energy is a key siting factor, and understanding how best to serve a site helps energy-intensive businesses move right to construction.”

— Lisa Pung, Economic Development Strategy Manager, Consumers Energy


“Consumers Energy’s job is to build confidence in Michigan as the best place for businesses of all sizes to grow and thrive,” said Lisa Pung, Economic Development Strategy Manager with Consumers Energy’s economic development team. “The VIP program is cultivating a solid inventory of industrial sites that boosts Michigan’s competitive advantage. Energy is a key siting factor, and understanding how best to serve a site helps energy-intensive businesses move right to construction. For southeast Michigan, that means accelerating jobs and investment and growing the tax base in a region rich with talent and infrastructure.”

The VIP program catalogs vacant properties in the Detroit region. From utilities to site conditions, DRP and Consumers Energy work with site owners throughout the region to validate all site data for accuracy.

The effort helps prospective businesses confidently assess timelines and costs to develop each site.

“As an energy provider, we’re proud to see site feasibility completed early in the process so we’re ready to support businesses looking to grow in Michigan,” Pung said. “Among other sites, the DRP region’s Flint Commerce Center (formerly known as Buick City) site and The Advanced Manufacturing District of Genesee County site are part of a growing roster of top-tier site options.”

Currently, the VIP program has about 40 verified sites (12 as coming soon) included in its online portal and plans to ready 120 more sites over the next three years. It is also expanding the program to provide site owners with up to $215,000 per site to investigate their properties.

“We are rapidly scaling VIP because it helps site selectors quickly assess vacant industrial properties across all of our 11 counties in one place,” Selby said. “We are now offering site owners financial support, so we can vet more sites and position them to move at the speed of business.”

Michigan is looking to the VIP program for its focus on deep and accurate site intelligence and common site certification benchmarks. Categorizing available sites using common thresholds and criteria across the state adds fuel to Michigan’s economic development engine.

Click here for more information about the VIP program.

For more information about Consumers Energy, visit

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