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I&M Announces $50,000 AEP Foundation Grant to extend Bike and Walking Trail in Southwest Michigan

September 23, 2021

Buchanan, Mich. – The American Electric Power Foundation (AEP) and Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) strive to improve the overall health, quality of life and local economies in the communities where our customers and employees live, work, learn and play. To demonstrate this commitment, the AEP Foundation, on behalf of I&M, is Powering the Next community initiative with a $50,000 donation to the City of Buchanan, Mich., to fund the McCoy Creek’s Trail Extension Project, which will expand the trail another half-of-a-mile.

A rendering of the project created during the Andrews University/Buchanan project, “A Vision for Buchanan”, depicts a section of the McCoy’s Creek Trail Extension.

“This is a great win for The City of Buchanan,” said Buchanan Mayor Sean Denison. “It’s estimated that 75% of Buchanan’s 4,500 residents live within walking distance of the existing trail. The expansion will increase the number of people taking advantage of the trail and result in more health benefits for the community as well as various economic development opportunities.”

The existing McCoy's Creek Trail is an approximately five-mile improved shared use path running along McCoy's Creek, through downtown Buchanan, and E.B. Clark Woods. It includes historical markers and natural elements that tell the history of Buchanan and the region. The McCoy's Creek Trail Extension Project would extend the existing McCoy's Creek Trail a half-mile along Schirmer Parkway, down River Street across River Street Bridge and into Buchanan Township – reaching River. St. Joe Brewery and Flatwater Farms.

“This generous donation from the AEP Foundation and Indiana Michigan Power is a big leap forward for the McCoy’s Creek Trail Extension and the City of Buchanan. We are so very grateful to have I&M as a community partner,” said Jerry Flenar of Friends of McCoy’s Creek. “The extension will provide an abundance of recreational opportunities, but also much needed alternative transportation options for residents and visitors to our vibrant region.”

Additional benefits from the extension include fostering healthy lifestyle promotion, handicap accessibility, improved air quality, strong community connections and numerous opportunities to continue tourism and economic development growth.

“Indiana Michigan Power provides more than safe and reliable energy service, as we also aim to energize our communities’ economies where we live alongside our neighbors,” said Shelley Klug, I&M Economic and Business Development manager. “Supporting this community initiative in Buchanan will help increase visitors to the charming town in Southwest Michigan and enrich the quality of life of those who call this city and township home for years to come.”

The trail extension will enable historic downtown Buchanan to leverage itself as a conduit to Pure Michigan with the creation of a non-motorized connection to high quality “blue trails activities” including fishing, boating, kayaking at Buchanan public access areas on the river, as well as destination dining and leisure experiences at River St. Joe Brewery and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at Flatwater Farms.

“The McCoy’s Creek Trail Extension will further connect downtown Buchanan to ‘the Gateway to Michigan Wine Country’ and other burgeoning agro-tourism opportunities,” said Rich Murphy, City Development director for Buchanan. “The big picture here is the trail extension sets up the opportunity for a trail connection all the way to Niles, Michigan, taking a large leap forward to the vision of a regionalized trail system.”

  This Extension Project is the necessary first step down the path to connect Buchanan, MI - the southern and eastern gateway to a tourism center in Southwest Michigan - to the extensive and developed regional trail system, the Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail ("IN-MI River Valley Trail”).

The project is planned for construction in 2023. For information on the project and how you can help visit www.cityofbuchanan.com.

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ABOUT THE AEP FOUNDATION: The American Electric Power Foundation is funded by American Electric Power (Nasdaq: AEP) and its utility operating units, including Indiana Michigan Power. The Foundation provides a permanent, ongoing resource for charitable initiatives involving higher dollar values and multi-year commitments in the communities served by AEP and initiatives outside of AEP’s 11-state service area. The Foundation’s areas of focus include special emphasis on improving lives through education from early childhood through higher education, protecting the environment, providing basic human services in the areas of hunger, housing, health and safety, and enriching life through art, music and cultural heritage. The Foundation is based in Columbus, Ohio.

ABOUT INDIANA MICHIGAN POWER: Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its approximately 2,100 employees serve more than 600,000 customers. More than 85% of its energy delivered in 2020 was emission-free.  I&M has at its availability various sources of generation including 2,278 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan, 450 MW of purchased wind generation from Indiana, more than 22 MW of hydro generation in both states and approximately 35 MW of large-scale solar generation in both states. The company’s generation portfolio also includes 2,620 MW of coal-fueled generation in Indiana.

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