The City of Luna Pier sits just off of I-75 near the Michigan-Ohio border. It is truly a “sleepy town.” With a population of 1500, the city is barely a speck on the map. Yet this city sits on the brink of financial disaster. Luna Pier must rebrand itself within the next 5 years before its primary source of revenue, a coal-fired power plant owned by Consumer’s Energy, shuts down.
In 2006, the city was advised that due to changes in federal regulation, Consumer’s Energy would need to take the Luna Pier Power Station off line by 2017. The power plant accounts for 80% of the city’s tax revenue, so the scramble was on to solve this dire problem. The solution: rebrand the city.
The city leadership has taken on the challenge by looking at Luna Pier as a “First Taste of Michigan.” Already the city has written a master plan, created a Downtown Development Authority, designed a lighthouse/bathhouse to become the signature feature of the lakefront and started talking with ferry companies to utilize its shallow-water harbor as a hub for ferries to destinations such as Put-In Bay and Pelee Island. A hallmark of Luna Pier’s effort is in a summer blues festival that started this past July and will continue into the future.
The next steps that the city must take will be critical in determining if it can survive. Currently, with the assistance of interns through the Michigan Shifting Gears Program, a program designed to assist Michigan Residents retool and reinvent their careers, the city is working on a marketing strategy, Tax Incentive Financing filing, public relations strategy and connecting with key players in the state government, including the Pure Michigan campaign to see what resources are available to the city moving forward. Additionally, the city is working to promote its blues festival for next July.
The community has rallied to take their city into the next chapter. From a city founded purely for the production of energy to “The First Taste of Pure Michigan,” it appears that great things will be happening at Exit 6 on I-75, better known as the City of Luna Pier.
Author: Seth Waxman, representing GreeningDetroit.com