Kalamazoo Industries Adds Three Jobs in Comstock Charter Township

Published on October 17, 2018
COMSTOCK CHARTER TOWNSHIP, MI — Kalamazoo Industries, Inc., a local manufacturer of industrial saws, grinders and dust extraction equipment is growing in Comstock Charter Township.

The company will add three new job as part of its $150,000 investment in an expansion that will increase space for finished goods warehousing, the number of incoming and outgoing loading docks to improve process flow, and manufacturing capacity. The company was recently awarded a 12-year tax abatement within the township’s Industrial Development District.

Learn more about the company at www.kalamazooind.com.

WKZO: Business Outlook for Southwest Michigan

Published on October 10, 2018
KALAMAZOO (WKZO-AM/FM) — WKZO’s Ken Lanphear is joined by Southwest Michigan First’s senior partner & ceo, Ron Kitchens, to talk about regional job announcements and Western Michigan University’s impact on the regional economy.

Listen here.

MLIVE: Western Michigan had $1.6 billion impact on local economy last year

Published on September 14, 2018
By Kayla Miller

KALAMAZOO, MI — Western Michigan University contributed over $1 billion dollars to the Kalamazoo-area economy in a one-year span, according to a new report.

The economic impact the university has on the region is about $1.6 billion, according to a report paid for jointly by Western Michigan University and Southwest Michigan First.

Read now.

WKZO: Southwest Michigan First Business Update

Published on September 5, 2018
KALAMAZOO (WKZO-AM/FM) — WKZO’s Ken Lanphear is joined by Southwest Michigan First’s senior partner & ceo, Ron Kitchens, to talk about regional trends in job growth, workforce, and employer efforts to keep on pace with demand.

Listen here.

The Great Debate with Greg LeRoy and Ron Kitchens: Predicting the Future of Economic Incentives

Published on September 4, 2018
Development Counsellors International — To Incentivize or Not Incentivize? Southwest Michigan First’s Ron Kitchens appears as a guest, along with Executive Director Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First, on Development Counsellors International’s podcast to debate the role of economic incentives in America’s future.

Listen here.

WKZO: Southwest Michigan First Business Update

Published on August 9, 2018
KALAMAZOO (WKZO-AM/FM) — WKZO’s Ken Lanphear is joined by Southwest Michigan First’s senior partner & ceo, Ron Kitchens, to talk about regional job announcements, primary outcomes and civil discourse.

Listen here.

MLIVE: Group of millennials behind Kalamazoo event center proposal

Published on July 14, 2018
KALAMAZOO, MI — A Southwest Michigan First task force charged with finding solutions to attract young people to the region revived long-stalled plans for an events center in Kalamazoo.

The region’s economic development organization assembled civic and business leaders under the age of 35 last year. Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens said the group was created to elevate the voices of the “next generation,” and members were picked through an informal nominating process.

Read the full article.

WKZO: Southwest Michigan First Business Update

Published on July 11, 2018
KALAMAZOO (WKZO-AM/FM) — WKZO’s Ken Lanphear is joined by Southwest Michigan First’s senior partner & ceo, Ron Kitchens, to talk about regional job announcements and infrastructure.

Listen here.

WOODTV.COM: Events center needed to revive downtown Kalamazoo

Published on July 10, 2018
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The pieces of the puzzle may be falling into place for an event center in downtown Kalamazoo.

Supporters, Kalamazoo County and Western Michigan University would have to all work together to make it a reality.

Watch now.

WWMT.COM: Backers of a new downtown events center say facility could be Kalamazoo’s crown jewel

Published on June 15, 2018
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Southwest Michigan First is behind the new push to build an arena in downtown Kalamazoo, several years after plans hit a standstill.

Watch now.

WKZO: Economic Outlook for Kalamazoo with Southwest Michigan First

Published on June 13, 2018
KALAMAZOO (WKZO-AM/FM) — WKZO’s Ken Lanphear is joined by Southwest Michigan First’s senior partner & ceo, Ron Kitchens, to talk about the hot economy and more as we enter summer 2018.

Listen here.

Western Michigan Focuses on Livability—and Millennials on the Move

Published on May 1, 2018
URBAN LAND MAGAZINE
By Nicole Bopp

Western Michigan—which includes Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Holland, and Kalamazoo—has a long history in agribusiness. The area is the nation’s top grower of blueberries, and since 1869, Kalamazoo-based A.M. Todd has been a global leader in natural mint extracts for the oral care, confectionary, food, and beverage industries. The region also leads the state in poultry, dairy, squash, and carrot production.

But the region also has rapidly growing life sciences clusters specializing in everything from medical equipment and surgical devices from Kalamazoo-based Stryker Corporation to over-the-counter health care supplies and infant formula from Allegan-based Perrigo Company. It also has a robust manufacturing sector, focused on metals, plastics, biopharmaceuticals, and automotive products, as well as office furniture, including three big names in furniture manufacturing—Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Haworth.

Read the full article.

SELECT Products Limited locks down site in Oshtemo Township

Published on April 16, 2018
SELECT Products Limited received final approval for its Brownfield plan which will enable the consolidation of its current operations in a newly constructed facility on property located at the end of Stadium Park Way in Oshtemo Township. The manufacturer of commercial continuous geared aluminum door hinges for the architectural hardware industry plans to invest $3 million in a new 42,000 to 50,000-square-foot facility. The rapidly growing company plans to relocate 30 employees from its current leased facility in Portage and add four more to its workforce. The new facility will accommodate light machining and assembly work, with the potential for future expansion including an aluminum anodizing facility.

SELECT Products Limited locks down site in Oshtemo Township

Published on January 17, 2018
SELECT Products Limited received final approval for its Brownfield plan which will enable the consolidation of its current operations in a newly constructed facility on property located at the end of Stadium Park Way in Oshtemo Township. The manufacturer of commercial continuous geared aluminum door hinges for the architectural hardware industry plans to invest $3 million in a new 42,000 to 50,000-square-foot facility. The rapidly growing company plans to relocate 30 employees from its current leased facility in Portage and add four more to its workforce. The new facility will accommodate light machining and assembly work, with the potential for future expansion including an aluminum anodizing facility.

WKZO: State will benefit from “Good Jobs” package

Published on August 10, 2017
KALAMAZOO (WKZO-AM/FM) — Southwest Michigan First says they expect Michigan will ultimately benefit from the recently-signed “Good Jobs for Michigan” bill package, despite the state losing out on a sprawling LCD plant to Wisconsin.

CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS: Southwest Michigan First makes impact nationally

Published on August 6, 2017
Kalamazoo-based Southwest Michigan First, an economic development nonprofit, has created a national footprint, despite its regional name.

When SWMF was founded 19 years ago, its mission was to provide economic development services to cities and towns in 17 counties in the southwest corner of the state. Since then, the organization has nurtured a national clientele through economic development and leadership conferences, private consulting and webinars. It also works to connect economic development agencies around the country with site-selection professionals looking for the right place to locate a business.

GRBJ: Mobile company investing $685K in operation

Published on December 9, 2016
A maker of accessories for mobile devices is expanding its operation in the region and creating 65 jobs in the process.

Mophie is expanding its distribution center in Texas Township, near Kalamazoo, at 6244 Technology Ave., investing $685,000 there and creating customer service-related jobs, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. or MEDC, today.

WKZO: The European Union, Southwest Michigan and Other Hot Topics

Published on July 6, 2016
Kalamazoo, Michigan — Southwest Michigan First president and ceo, Ron Kitchens joined WKZO to weigh in on hot topics like the European Union, Southwest Michigan economy.

TIME MAGAZINE: The Kalamazoo Promise is #145 of the 240 Reasons to Celebrate America

Published on June 30, 2016
TIME MAGAZINE, July 11, 2016, “240 Reasons to Celebrate America”

145. The city where high school grads go to college for free
by Josh Sanburn

When Doreisha Reed was in elementary school, she thought college was free for everyone. Her teachers spoke about it like it was an extension of high school, as if she had no other option but to attend. And when the teachers talked, they kept bringing up “the Promise.

WKZO: Kalamazoo Ranks as one of the Top 3 Cities for Creatives in 2016

Published on May 20, 2016
Ron Kitchens sits down with the WKZO team to tout Kalamazoo’s ranking as a Top 3 Creative City on SmartAsset.com’s 2016 list, recent jobs announcements and upcoming events at Southwest Michigan First.

MiBIZ: Rerouting trains through Kalamazoo could speed Amtrak travel to Chicago for GR riders

Published on May 1, 2016
Investments in rail infrastructure eventually will expedite the time it takes for Amtrak passengers to commute from Kalamazoo to Chicago, potentially cutting travel times by a half hour. 

THREE RIVERS COMMERCIAL-NEWS: Southwest Michigan First Speaks

Published on March 29, 2016
Damon Allison and Derek Nofz, both with Southwest Michigan First, came to the community development meeting Thursday to talk about the organization’s services.

CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS: Kalamazoo company Vestaron turns spider venom into pesticides – and capital

Published on March 26, 2016
Kalamazoo, Michigan – There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Vestaron Corp., a spinoff from the University of Connecticut recruited to Kalamazoo in 2007 to turn spider venom into bug-killing pesticides that are benign to people, pets, livestock and water sources.

After 11 years of research and development, the company, which was founded in 2005, has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin selling its first three pesticides and will bring the first one to market midyear and the other two next year, according to CEO John Sorenson.

WKZO: Ron Kitchens Regional Update

Published on March 23, 2016
Kalamazoo, Michigan – Catch up with Ron Kitchens’ monthly radio segment on WKZO which aired March 23, 2016 at 8:50 am.

MiBiz: Economic Developers prioritize educating legislators to keep West Michigan competitive

Published on March 20, 2016
The budget cuts at the state’s economic development organization have forced industry executives in West Michigan to adjust their tactics. 

During an executive roundtable discussion, local economic developers said they see a wide array of issues to contend with in 2016, especially in the wake of a 27-percent budget cut at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. 

South Bend Tribune: Lack of good jobs is the root cause of many problems, speaker says

Published on March 3, 2016
SOUTH BEND, Indiana – Ron Kitchens believes the greatest force for change is a job.

“When you’ve got a good job, you’re no longer defined by lack, you’re no longer defined by anything else,” he told the audience at the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Salute to Business lunch.

MiBIZ: Despite looming pilot shortage, aviation stakeholders point to industry growth

Published on December 21, 2015
Responding to a strong economic cycle for both business and leisure travel, Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids has focused on investing in both its infrastructure and amenities.

Beyond adding parking and enhanced shopping and dining options, the airport just launched a $45 million project to consolidate the security checkpoint and improve the customer experience at the facility.

FORT WAYNE NEWS SENTINEL: Fort Wayne visitors learn how scholarship Promise brightens a city’s prospects

Published on November 5, 2015
Like Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo has taken some brutal economic blows in the last 20 years. One of those hits struck the region like Navistar’s leaving Fort Wayne. In 1999, Kalamazoo lost a General Motors stamping plant that had employed as many as 4,000 after it opened in 1966.

But Kalamazoo has a unique advantage in facing adversity: a blanket scholarship for any student who graduates from Kalamazoo Public Schools after attending at least all four years of high school in the district.

THE DAILY REPORTER: Clemens expects no problems finding workers

Published on September 17, 2015
CENTREVILLE — Clemens Food Group is not worried about hiring more than 800 workers for its fresh pork processing plant under construction in Coldwater, Ernie Miley, vice president of human resources for the company, told the Southwest Michigan Workforce Development Board Wednesday.

MiBIZ: Automotive industry drives Southwest Michigan’s manufacturing growth

Published on August 2, 2015
Southwest Michigan’s manufacturing sector has clipped along at a moderate but steady growth rate over the last year. That growth in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek has been buoyed by the expanding automotive industry, a trend that’s played out in the years after the depths of the recession.

MiBIZ: Med school, Borgess and Bronson partner in new Center for Clinical Research

Published on August 2, 2015
The formation of a unit to oversee clinical research puts another key element in place for the Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine in Kalamazoo. The private medical school affiliated with Western Michigan University created the Center for Clinical Research with the Borgess Research Institute and Bronson Research Services. The center will support clinical research at Borgess Medical Center and Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.

MiBIZ: Long-term wellness strategy drives Southwest Michigan First

Published on May 24, 2015
When Southwest Michigan First looked to create a robust wellness program, the economic development agency wanted to add a level of thoughtfulness to its programming rather than focus on avoiding unhealthy behaviors or diets and eliminating sedentary li

SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE: Forest River expanding

Published on May 13, 2015
WHITE PIGEON — Elkhart-based Forest River Manufacturing formally breaks ground today on the company’s first Michigan location.

Located at 500 W. Chicago Road, White Pigeon, the new site will include three roughly 100,000-square-foot plants that will produce new lines, according to a news release. Forest River has yet to disclose what those new products might be, though, said Heather Baker, executive vice president of Southwest Michigan First.

WSBT 22: RV Plant expands to White Pigeon

Published on May 13, 2015
WHITE PIGEON – One of the area’s largest RV makers broke ground Wednesday in White Pigeon for a huge expansion project.

WNDU 16: Elkart-based company breaks ground on new facility in Michigan

Published on May 13, 2015
WHITE PIGEON, Mich. — Elkhart-based Forest River Manufacturing, an RV manufacturing staple in Indiana, is opening a new facility in White Pigeon, Mich. and bringing hundreds of jobs with it.

THE ELKHART TRUTH: Forest River to break ground this week on Michigan manufacturing facility

Published on May 11, 2015

Forest River will break ground this week on a new manufacturing facility in Michigan.

The Elkhart-based company announced plans in January to build three 100,000-square-foot facilities in White Pigeon and create 396 jobs in the next three years.

GRAND RAPIDS BUSINESS JOURNAL: Best and Brightest names elite-level winners

Published on May 7, 2015
The winning companies of this year’s Best and Brightest elite awards and Best of the Best awards were announced today during an annual awards event honoring West Michigan businesses for their best practices in human resources.

West Michigan’s 2015 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For were recognized by the Michigan Business and Professional Association on May 7 for their innovation and best practices in human resources during an annual symposium and awards program at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.

STURGIS JOURNAL: Gradual process to land RV firm in White Pigeon

Published on March 25, 2015
WHITE PIGEON, MI — It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was a long process. That was what members and guests at a meeting of the White Pigeon Rotary Club heard Wednesday about the arrival of Forest River Manufacturing to the village.

BUZZFEED COMMUNITY: 29 Cities All Twenty somethings Should Pick Up And Move To

Published on March 11, 2015
What are the 29 cities all “twentysomethings” should pick up and move to? Pack your bags … Kalamazoo, Michigan lands at #14!

WWMT NEWSCHANNEL3: Earth Fare Ready to Open in Portage

Published on February 25, 2015
PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – It has gained popularity nationwide, and now a grocery store chain is bringing its first store to Michigan. And that landmark store is planting its roots right here in West Michigan. Newschannel 3 got an exclusive look inside the new Earth Fare store Tuesday. They haven’t made their first sale yet and already there’s lots of buzz.

AWESOME MITTEN: Handmade Kalamazoo Learns About $10,000 of MAD LOVE

Published on February 23, 2015
KALAMAZOO, Michigan — The first time Handmade Kalamazoo – a space for Kalamazoo’s local artists to sell their work – received funds, they were thrilled to put $250 to work from the Change Makers’ Grant through the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Today, thanks to the addition of Makers’ Mart at the Catalyst University 2015.

THE LORI MOORE SHOW featuring Ron Kitchens

Published on January 7, 2015
Catch Ron Kitchens on The Lori Moore Show on January 1, 2015.

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