Just outside of Chassell, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Rob and Anne Cooke’s home sits on ten densely wooded acres. To the left are another ten acres, and to right, forty more. Rob notes, “In Detroit, our house would be worth about two million — but here, the location makes it priceless. ” It’s a natural fit for an enterprising couple with four young kids and two big careers.
Rob is the executive director of GreenForces, a business consortium of seven companies that provide technologies and services for aerospace and defense industries across the U.S. and in Canada. He loves doing something different every day with GreenForces, interacting with companies from all over the world, and working on projects that are changing the face of aircraft and military equipment. Rob is also program manager and business development agent for GS Engineering, where he oversees electrical engineering projects for a range of clients in aviation, highway construction, aerospace, and the military.
Anne is a physical therapist with Aspirus – a leading regional health care system. She’s one of just 80 people in the country with her level of certification in women’s health.”I work locally for a health system that is ranked as one of the 15 best by IBM Watson Analytics. It is awesome that we have this incredibly high level of health care in this community”.
Balancing two careers and four kids in an urban/suburban location would bring layers of complexity the Cooke’s just don’t want. According to Rob, “managing schedules and kids can be a challenge no matter where you are, but living here makes it a whole lot easier. When we commute we are talking minutes instead of hours. Most everything we need is nearby and online shopping is just as effective here as it is in Chicago. And we don’t worry about packages left at our door. People are nice. It’s tough to beat”.
Education is important to the Cooke family; they appreciate that it’s a focus for the U.P. as well. Anne explains, “We have a community that really cares about education, especially since there are so many university faculty members here. They make it a priority.” They both revel in how unique the area is, with six different small high schools in a ten-mile radius. “To us that’s a big benefit to the community. You have a level of one-on-one engagement between the teachers and students.” The Cooks also like that the universities add a dash of culture, bringing in comedians, concerts and ballet.
What really keeps the Cooke family centered in the U.P. is “the incredible lifestyle perks.” Rob explains, “Think about what kind of life you want to live. If you want to live a life that you can actually enjoy, without grappling with traffic and living around chaos, then this is the place to set up your company. You can get all of the reliable employees you could possibly need and you have power and data infrastructure available. It’s really about how you — and your employees — want to live your life.”
“We have a community that really cares about education, especially since there are so many university faculty members here. They make it a priority.”