“We’ve got two chain-of-lakes in the county, with over 100 lakes in total,” Hillary Eley, the Branch County Chamber of Commerce President told me as she toured me through Coldwater, MI (population 12,697). Coldwater was one of the many agurbs® we found in our research for BoomtownUSA. And, lakes and recreational land are becoming key drivers in where people want to live and raise a family. Coldwater has both in excess….an undiscovered jewel that sits exactly halfway between Chicago and Detroit on the old Sauk Trail.
The town dates back to the 1830s and its early industries were cigars and cement. Today it still has a strong manufacturing base with 21% of its jobs in the sector.
The town has many historic districts of old Victorian homes and a very historical and picturesque downtown. Barbara Rosene who heads up the downtown association implemented a wireless downtown broadband capability in 2004 and is starting to bring back housing to the upper floors of the historic downtown buildings. The Tibbitts Opera House, built in 1882, is the second oldest, continuously running theatre in the state.
On the outskirts of town sits Capri Drive-In Theatre, still run by the same family that started it in the 50s. According to the website driveintheater.com, MI had 110 theaters in 1958 but only 10 today.
Last week’s blogs included a number of mentions of people who had come back to assist their hometowns. Coldwater has a number of examples including Ed Callahan, an ex-CEO who moved back home; Robert Brown who has donated over $7 million to local churches and a new city hall; and Max Larsen, who set up a trust fund which has funded a new school shown here, a gym, library and literacy program.
Coldwater is a gem with huge potential.