Vestaron makes an eco-friendly pesticide derived from spider venom. Bagaveev uses 3-D printers to make rocket engines for nanosatellites. Transatomic Power is developing a next-generation reactor that runs on nuclear waste. They all have one thing in common: money from Silicon Valley venture capitalists.Full Story
A resurgence among West Michigan manufacturers, particularly for automotive suppliers, has Class A industrial space at a premium — if not scarce — in the region.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, Michigan -- Southwest Michigan First announces its 5th annual leadership conference, Catalyst University, will be held on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo – a new location for the event.
More than 2,000 leaders from Southwest Michigan and beyond will gather for this one-day experience to be inspired by top thought leaders from around the world and locally who have made a difference in the lives of others by putting their passions to action.Full Story
Forbes took a look at the jobs and companies that are providing employees great work-life balance. Where should workers considering a relocation seek career opportunities and the chance at a thriving personal life? Take a look at the list that puts the Kalamazoo, Michigan in the Top 10!Full Story
Area Development, a leading media resource for site and facility planning, listed the Kalamazoo-Portage MSA as one of its Top 20 Mid-Size Cities for Prime Workforce in its 100 Leading Locations for 2014 Report.Full Story
Students can make the value of the dollar work for them in Kalamazoo! The Simple Dollar ranked Kalamazoo ninth on its new list of the top 10 “Most Affordable College Towns.”Full Story
Kalamazoo, Michigan made the list at #20 of 50 Great Affordable College Towns in the U.S. Great Value Colleges selected the 50 college towns with the best cost-of-living index scores as published by the Council for Community and Economic Research.Full Story
LANSING, Michigan -- Kalamazoo area hiring and employment successes were among those celebrated recently by the Michigan Works! Association at the recent First Annual Prosperity Awards.Full Story
BATTLE CREEK, Michigan -- A German manufacturer of aluminum automotive parts will move into Battle Creek, bringing up to a $23 million investment and 186 jobs with it, the state announced Wednesday.Full Story
HUDSONVILLE, Michigan -- Of the 101 best companies to work for in West Michigan this year, there are now 11 Elite winners — and one Best of the Best.
The Best of the Best award at the 12th annual West Michigan’s 101 Best Companies to Work For event today went to Southwest Michigan First in Kalamazoo, an economic development nonprofit.Full Story
NEW YORK, April 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Parker Hannifin Corporation (NYSE: PH), the global leader in motion and control technologies, today will celebrate 50 years of growth and innovation since its initial public offering (IPO) at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Donald E. Washkewicz, Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President, will ring The Closing Bell(R) at 4p.m., Eastern time.Full Story
When you work together, you work better.
That’s the lesson local officials say they have learned as they try to lift the region out of manufacturing industry declines and a shaky economy. Gone are the days of so-called territorialism, they say, as the perception of nearby communities as fierce competition is now being viewed as an opportunity for a partnership.Full Story
For weeks there were whispers. And then one night in November 2005, hundreds of parents, teachers, and students crammed into a boardroom at a drab administration building south of downtown. Janice Brown, the superintendent of the Kalamazoo schools, had an announcement to make, and it was even more surprising than the rumors that had been flying around town: Kalamazoo, small, struggling Kalamazoo, best known for its strange name and the industries it was no longer home to, was about to launch the most generous municipal college scholarship program in the country, an audacious experiment not only in education reform but in re-engineering a troubled town.Full Story
Walk. Run. Learn about the Catalyst Community Challenge. Download host Ken Lanphear's on-air interview with Southwest Michigan First's Tim Terrentine here.Full Story
Buchanan, MI: To better serve customers, Edgewater Automation, a custom automation equipment company, added a 44,000 square foot facility in Buchanan, Michigan and has located a team there to provide complete fabrication and manufacturing capabilities. “We are excited about the opportunity to locate in Buchanan and expand our manufacturing capabilities. This was a big step for our company, and feel this will be a perfect fit for our new operations,” said Rick Blake, founder and president of Edgewater Automation.Full Story
KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Coming up will be an event organized by Southwest Michigan First for community leaders to discuss ways the region could be better developed. Southwest Michigan First's Tim Terrentine says that Populus will be held at the State Theater in Kalamazoo on Friday, March 28th. Everyone from elected officials to business and education leaders will be invited to come and take part in a day of networking.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley made a stop in West Michigan to discuss job creation and the economy.
Lt. Gov. Calley toured Schupan and Sons in Kalamazoo Thursday, before sitting down with economic and business leaders for a roundtable discussion.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Western Michigan University's new medical school will be named after the founder of the medical technology company Stryker Corp., officials announced Tuesday.Full Story
LANSING, Michigan - Governor Rick Snyder today announced that 62 Michiganders, organizations and events have been named finalists for the 2014 Governor's Fitness Awards. Southwest Michigan First received the Healthy Workplace Award for Small Companies.Full Story
The life sciences sector in Michigan is growing, but a more coordinated approach could make it even stronger going forward, panelists told a packed house Monday at the Business Leaders for Michigan second annual leadership summit in East Lansing.Full Story
STURGIS, MICHIGAN -- Midwest Plastics Engineering Inc. had a 12-year tax abatement approved Wednesday by Sturgis city commissioners. The tax abatement is for a new equipment expansion investment to help retain 40 jobs at the facility and create 10 new ones.Full Story
If you are an incoming junior, senior, or graduate student at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Davenport University's Kalamazoo campus the Monroe-Brown Internship program might be what you are looking for.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Ten Michigan manufacturers and one multi-skilled trades contractor in the Kalamazoo-St. Joseph County region were the recipients of $235,364 in Skilled Trades Training Fund grants.
The grants were funded by Michigan's Workforce Development Agency and are intended to assist companies with training for in-demand jobs. According to its website, the agency attempts to promote a flexible, innovative and effective workforce system in Michigan.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Economist Brian Long readily acknowledges the challenges in the Michigan job market, including the continuing decline in manufacturing and the skills gap between available jobs and those seeking work.But he also says the outlook for West Michigan for the next decade is "fairly positive."Full Story
United by a common need for machinists, Flowserve Kalamazoo and more than two dozen local manufacturing businesses have come together through their regional economic development organization, Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Economic development in the region, not just Branch County, will be in the focus next Friday in Coldwater. The Branch County Economic Growth Alliance is sponsoring a special economic summit entitled “Success Through Regionalization”.
Speakers include George Erickcek from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Dr Donald Meyer, the chairman of the Western Michigan University Department of Economics, Jill Bland from the economic development group Southwest Michigan First, and Dr Charles Ballard, Professor of Economics at Michigan State University and author of the book “Michigan’s Economic Future”.Full Story
An outlook for continued economic growth across West Michigan comes with its share of challenges for the region’s economic development organizations.
From Holland to Kalamazoo to Battle Creek, the paths to growth for area businesses are largely similar. In particular, manufacturing, food processing and health-related industries are all poised for solid performance across West Michigan, said the heads of local economic development agencies. However, the individual areas across the region have their own unique sets of challenges that economic developers say they hope to tackle in the new year.
OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, MI – Plans to build a Costco warehouse club store at Drake Road and Stadium Drive pushed ahead Thursday night with approval of its site plan application by the Oshtemo Township Planning Commission.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Kalamazoo County is one of 20 communities picked by the Lumina Foundation to participate in a nationwide project to dramatically boost completion of post-secondary programs.Full Story
General Mills will operate a new, leased distribution center in the Charter Township of Comstock, located within Midlink Business Park.
The new 155,000-square-foot center, which will focus primarily on the company’s yogurt business, is expected to be operational by July 2014. General Mills will lease the facility, which is expected to create 27 jobs over two years. Minneapolis-based General Mills selected this Southwest Michigan location for its strategic geographical location.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- General Mills is coming to Comstock Township.
Worldwide food maker and distributor General Mills will establish a new, 155,000-square-foot distribution center -- focused primarily on its yogurt business -- at the Midlink Business Park in Comstock Township.Full Story
One of the world’s largest food companies is planning to open a distribution center for its yogurt products in southwest Michigan.
General Mills plans to lease a 155,000-square-foot space from Midlink Business Park in Comstock Township and create 27 jobs over the next two years.Full Story
Take a cross-country brewery tour for a sampling of the latest, greatest craft beers. Suggested stops include: Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek, MI!
Arcadia Ales partners with restaurants and appears at festivals statewide. But there’s plenty to lure you to the brewery itself. At its on-site restaurant, you can sample house-smoked local meats; Ploughmans Platter comes with farm sausage, house-smoked cheddar, mustard, and flatbread. Wash it down with Sky High Rye, Jaw-Jacker (with cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg), or barrel-aged Cereal Killer Barleywine. A Kalamazoo location, set to open in December 2013, will include a dedicated wood-fired smokehouse along with space to park kayaks and canoes on the Kalamazoo River.Full Story
TEXAS TOWNSHIP, MI -- Texas Township establishes policy for tax abatements.
Superintendent Julie VanderWiere said Southwest Michigan First and Sterling Industries approached the township to ask for a tax abatement and the Board of Trustees determined it would be in the township’s best interests to develop a policy before considering any request.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Don’t look at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center in short terms, a local economic development leader says.
Look at the bigger role the life-sciences incubator is playing in the community’s long-term strategy, said Ron Kitchens, president and chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, the region’s lead economic development organization.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – In Kalamazoo on Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder congratulated the area's biotech community for pushing for innovation and helping scientists become entrepreneurs.
But he also had a few things to say about the progress being made in economic development in Detroit, better regional cooperation, how the state is treating veterans and the dissolving of the NERD Fund.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Several organizations based on building community and promoting health are hosting a conference on leadership in the Kalamazoo running community in November.
Southwest Michigan First, Borgess Run for the Health of It and Girls on the Run are hosting the conference, called Changing Our Community, One Step at a Time, on Nov. 14.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – “You can’t be an entrepreneur and innovator and be fully rational,” Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday in Kalamazoo.
“If you follow the rational path, you cannot do something that people say can’t be done,” Snyder said, en route to praising the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center for providing an environment for entrepreneurs and innovation in the Kalamazoo region.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- The Kalamazoo City Commission on Monday approved a tax break for Dimplex Thermal Solutions.
Commissioners approved a tax break for Dimplex Thermal Solutions for three years for personal property valued at $1.1 million and six years for real property valued at $2.5 million.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Biotech and science-based companies in the Kalamazoo area took center stage this week as Michigan’s biosciences industry came to town for its annual confab.Full Story
The privately funded organization of economic development advisors known as Southwest Michigan First, is getting applause from State Senator John Proos. The group's latest roundtable for legislators was at Western Michigan Univeristy's Aviation School.Full Story
Kalamazoo, Michigan -- Founders of a new venture capital firm in Kalamazoo want to raise $15 million for their initial fund to invest in startup companies that are working to develop and commercialize concepts for medical devices.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI - Gov. Rick Snyder is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at an Oct. 23 dinner event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center.Full Story
Sturgis, Michigan — Burr Oak Tool broke ground Tuesday for the largest expansion in its 70-year history.
A 120,000 square-foot assembly facility will be built at the corner of South Nottawa Street and Bogen Road in Sturgis, at Dresser Industrial Park.
Sturgis, Michigan - “Necessity is the mother of invention,” said Owens Products CEO and owner Gary Kirtley, “It’s also the core of Owens Products.”
Being inventive is how Owens Products was able to become an industry leader in its field and how it has been able to maintain productivity for nearly 49 years, Kirtley said.
KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- An event is coming up at Kalamazoo Valley Community College to connect employers with veterans. Organized by Southwest Michigan First, it's hoped that leaders of area companies can attend and learn about how valuable someone with military service can be to them.Full Story
ANN ARBOR, Michigan -- MichBio, the association for Michigan’s biosciences industry, will welcome more than 300 bioscience professionals and service providers to its 9th annual Expo & Conference (Expo) to be held October 15-16 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich. The MichBio Expo is the largest annual gathering of Michigan bioscience industry professionals.Full Story
KALAMAZOO -- Closet and storage system manufacturer Newell Rubbermaid says its Kalamazoo, MI, product design center is still scheduled to open in 2014 despite the recent sale of its hardware businesses. Plans for the 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art design center were announced earlier this year.Full Story
KALAMAZOO — President Tim Suprise said Arcadia Brewing Co.’s expansion to Kalamazoo could help accomplish what he said his company has been trying to do since it started making craft beer 17 years ago: regionalism. The Battle Creek-based microbrewery is expected to open a 30,000-square-foot facility along the Kalamazoo River at 701 E. Michigan Ave. that will allow Arcadia to triple its beer production capacity — and hopefully, Suprise said, create an environment that allows area residents to “narrow the gap between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo.”Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Newell Rubbermaid already has people working in Kalamazoo and is on track to open its 40,000-square-foot, $6 million-plus product design and prototyping center here early in 2014.
The Atlanta-based consumer and commercial products giant said nothing has changed in its plans for the center, which involves a $2.3 million investment by the company and a $4 million investment by Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
A company that makes products to search, analyze and draw information from conversations and trends on sites like Twitter and Google+ has decided to locate a network operation center in Comstock Township. The San Francisco-based Topsy Labs expects to create 35 new jobs.Full Story
Ron Kitchens told me his story about the can of Mandarin oranges not long after we’d first met, which was only days into his post as head of Southwest Michigan First, one of that region’s economic development agencies.
The essence of the tale is that when Ron was four years old, his father was accidentally killed at work, leaving the family to struggle through tough times...Full Story
MATTAWAN, MI – In a move its three partners say will speed the development of new drugs, MPI Research broke ground Friday on a new Imaging Center at its headquarters in Mattawan.
The 10,000-square-foot, multimillion dollar facility, built in conjunction with Boston-based INVICRO and Little Rock-based 3D Imaging, will mark the first time pharmaceutical researchers will have access to a facility with both a cyclotron and a connected vivarium, the partners said at the ceremony.Full Story
COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, MI -- A San Francisco company plans to establish a Comstock Township network operation center, which will include 35 jobs, thanks to a $350,000 incentive from the Michigan Business Development Program.Full Story
President Obama recently unveiled his plans for a new collegiate ranking system that will be used to determine the distribution of federal education funds. Hoping to capitalize on recent developments in higher education, the president hopes his new rating system will help get recent sharp college tuition increases under control. His plan entails comparing schools on their relative costs, average student debt upon graduation, graduation rates, starting salaries after graduation, and percentage of low income students in attendance.
Using recent data for average student debt upon graduation, starting salaries, tuition and room and board for four-year universities, six-year graduation rates, and percentage of students who qualify for Pell grants as rough indicators, Western Michigan University ranks in the Top 5 of 12 universities that probably stand to benefit from the new funding structure as they are already meeting many of the standards Obama has laid out.Full Story
KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Local economic leaders are pleased with CNN Money's naming of Kalamazoo County as one of the best counties in the nation to get a job. The CNN Money article appeared last week, placing Kalamazoo County at number 21for jobs.Full Story
KALAMAZOO MI -- At this time of year, economic development gets a little creative for the staff at Southwest Michigan First. When they are not visiting industrial sites or meeting with business people in the region, several staffers are at the race track. They head for the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., the site of the annual Pure Michigan 400. The flag was to drop on this year’s race today (Aug. 18).Full Story
America's Top 10 Summer Towns are revealed. At, #9 is Niles-Benton Harbor in Southwest Michigan...Summer tourism provides a needed boost for many American cities. For some regions, the influx of visitors and people with summer homes is absolutely vital to the local economy...Full Story
Technology firms and companies in the life sciences and defense industries are ignoring easy money if they’re not taking advantage of two major federal grant programs.Full Story
Kalamazoo County is one of the best places in the U.S. to get a job, according to CNN Money magazine. Kalamazoo ranked #21 on the magazine’s “Where the jobs are” list published on August 12 which includes 25 counties that have job opportunities that make them great places to live and work.Full Story
The communities of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo have had their share of differences over the years, but according to the two top economic developers in the region, the pair are finding ways to collaborate like never before. The reason, they say, is that what’s good for the region is most often good for their individual communities in the end. MiBiz sat down separately with Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens and Karl Dehn of Battle Creek Unlimited to explore how the two areas both collaborate and compete.Full Story
Many urban advocates agree that strengthening the relationship between education systems and city building is a key tenet to growing livable, prosperous communities.
The city of Kalamazoo is one such West Michigan community that is in the thick of a major transformation, spurred on in large part by the expansion of Western Michigan University.Full Story
What are some of the top projects that are expanding their presence in the 269 area code? And why do they matter?Full Story
More than a decade after opening and ushering in a new era of entrepreneurism in Kalamazoo — and exceeding even the most optimistic expectations — the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center is preparing to adjust to the changing times.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI — The decision to locate Kalamazoo Valley Community College's new sustainability and wellness campus in the Edison neighborhood has the potential to be a game-changer for the city's largest neighborhood.Full Story
Allegan-based generic drug manufacturer Perrigo Co. (NYSE: PRGO) announced this morning that it agreed to acquire Irish pharmaceutical maker Elan Corp. PLC (NYSE: ELN) in a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $8.6 billion.Full Story
ALLEGAN, MI – Perrigo Co. says re-incorporating the company in Ireland will mean tax benefits in the future as the store-brand pharmaceuticals company expands internationally.
But, as the company announced an $8.6 billion cash and stock acquisition of Irish biotech firm Elan Pharmaceuticals on Monday, an executive said it will mean no operational, management, structural or tax-payment changes in Allegan or Michigan.Full Story
Zeigler Automotive Group continues to solidify its position in the Chicago area with the acquisition of a coveted BMW dealership in the Windy City’s southwest suburbs. The Kalamazoo-based dealer group, which ranks among the top 100 “mega dealers” in the country, takes over control today of BMW of Orland Park, adding to its portfolio of Chicagoland stores, including dealerships in Downers Grove, Ill. and Schaumburg, Ill. The acquisition is expected to add about $90 million in annual revenues at Zeigler, which topped $500 million in sales last year, according to industry reports. The Orland Park dealership is a “high-volume” BMW store within about 25 minutes from downtown Chicago in “a really good location,” said Aaron Zeigler, the company’s president.Full Story
Governor Snyder recently sat down with WMUK, MLive Kalamazoo and the Battle Creek Enquirer to discuss the need to change local unit of government models in light of Detroit’s bankruptcy.
Southwest Michigan First hosted Plante Moran and regional leaders at a presentation targeting local governmental unit reform. A link to that presentation can be found here.
Every business that wants a place on the 92 acres where a demolished General Motors Corp. stamping plant stood for more than seven decades in suburban Grand Rapids has been rejected...
It was more than a market-driven philosophy that persuaded Hackman Capital Partners of California to turn an old GM stamping plant in Kalamazoo into the 340-acre Midlink Business Park, with 1.6 million square feet of tenant space inside the old factory.
DETROIT (WKZO) -- If Detroit’s Emergency Manager didn’t have the attention of the City’s Creditors before, he has it now, after the Motor City has become the largest in U.S. History to file for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy protection.
Ron Kitchens, the President of S.W. Michigan First says its time for him to get to work to do his research and get out the facts that West Michigan is not Detroit.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI — County and local government is the most regulated industry in the entire state, an expert said today at presentation on local government finances sponsored by Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
In April 2012, Germany-based Hark Orchids announced Kalamazoo, Michigan as its first U.S. location. Southwest Michigan First's Jennifer Owens sits down with WKZO to give an update on where the company is today on their expansion efforts. Already hiring, the company plans to open its doors in August 2013!Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Ten years after opening, Southwest Michigan’s incubator for science-based companies has 18 growing companies doing research into such things as diabetes treatment, anti-infective agents and spider venom-based pesticides.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Like a child seeing a magic trick for the first time, a smile stretches broadly across Ben Wolf's face as smoke from a liter of liquid nitrogen thickens, rolls out of a laboratory sink and down a bank of cabinets.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- In its offices in downtown Kalamazoo, Southwest Michigan First has a tote board to make sure its staff is making progress.
It has 13 measures, "things we have to do every day to make sure we're turning the flywheel," said Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of the economic development organization...Full Story
Sturgis — Americraft Carton Inc. in Sturgis is expanding.
“In the very near future, we will be breaking ground on the northwest corner of our property to start the first phase of our expansion,” said Eric Hansen, general manager and divisional vice president.
James Ware Construction of Sturgis is contractor for the 25,000-square-foot addition. Expected completion is early December.Full Story
Borrowing a page from Warren Buffett's playbook, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi tribe is redirecting money from its highly successful Four Winds Casinos into brick-and-mortar businesses outside of gambling to build its sovereign nation into an economic powerhouse ... The Pokagon Band has created its Mno-Bmadsen development arm, whose name means "walking the good path" in the tribe's language.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – The organization whose focus is job-creation -- Southwest Michigan First – is expanding its staff by four and bringing on four new interns.Full Story
Borrowing a page from Warren Buffett’s playbook, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi tribe is redirecting money from its highly successful Four Winds Casinos into brick-and-mortar businesses outside of gambling to build its sovereign nation into an economic powerhouse.
With fewer than 5,000 people spread throughout 10 counties in Southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, the Pokagon Band is looking ahead to the time when an oversaturation of casinos here could choke off the steady revenue it has been enjoying recently.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- More than 50 regional companies, organizations and individuals -- from long-entrentched businesses to those still under development -- were named 2013 winners Wednesday of Catalyst Awards, care of Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Those familiar with the research into diabetes treatments being done by Metabolic Solutions Development Co. in Kalamazoo say that work has been and is being facilitated by several other life-sciences companies started here during the last 10 years.
Significant to Metabolic Solutions publishing data last week on a new drug target it has identified for improving the treatment of type 2 diabetes, is Launch MI Lab, a 6-month-old, 2,300-square-foot wet laboratory located inside the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center that supports bioscience companies by providing affordable testing space and specialized lab instrumentation.
Breakthrough research on a type 2 diabetes drug target by Metabolic Solutions Development Co. in Kalamazoo underscores the key role of a life sciences incubator, according to local industry leaders.
At laboratories located in the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, MSDC has been investigating potential treatments for diabetes involving new kinds of insulin sensitizers that do not cause the side effects of previous forms.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Researchers at Kalamazoo-based Metabolic Solutions Development Co. have identified a new drug target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Called mTOT (for mitochondrial target of thiazolidinediones), the drug target is a cellular protein complex through which new anti-diabetic drugs exert their insulin-sensitizing effects.Full Story
BUCHANAN -- Vickers Engineering is undergoing a very nice growth spurt. Except it's not really a spurt. It's actually steady growth.
And the growth will continue, according to Matt Tyler, CEO and president of Vickers Engineering. He said he expects to add 50 more jobs by 2016, with more to follow.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI - More than 11,000 people voted for Kalamazoo to be the next Beer City USA, but beer-drinkers an hour north in Grand Rapids will continue to carry the title.
Kalamazoo ranked second in nation for the Beer City USA title. Kalamazoo came ahead of Asheville, NC, which tied with Grand Rapids for the title last year, and Ann Arbor came in fourth place in the national poll featuring 22 cities which cherish local craft beer.Full Story
KALAMAZOO — When anonymous donors in Kalamazoo committed millions of dollars to local schoolchildren, the city cemented itself as the “education community.”
So perhaps it’s only fitting that leadership at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation is focusing its efforts on education.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First was honored this year as the Best of the Best overall winner for its cutting edge human resources practices by the Michigan Business and Professional Association during its annual Best and Brightest Companies to Work For program. It also was recognized as Best of the Best National Elite Small Business.
The whole organization makes a commitment to every employee, and every employee to the others.
As you likely know, the annual competition to be named “Beer City USA” is underway. Voting continues until 1:59 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2013.
While there are many worthy destinations being considered for this annual recognition (including our friends in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids), let me share with you eight reasons why Kalamazoo deserves your consideration (and vote) to be named Beer City USA 2013...Full Story
A handful of West Michigan’s best and brightest firms are worthy of a spot on the national Best and Brightest Companies to Work For list ...
“West Michigan is a true gem as far as best practices go,” said Jennifer Kluge, president and CEO of the Michigan Business and Professional Association, which presents the program. “The West Michigan elite winners definitely stand out, and there were a significant number of national Best and Brightest winners from the West Michigan region, including Southwest Michigan First (which received the Best of the Best Award for the region)"
HUDSONVILLE, Mich., May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Today, the Michigan Business and Professional Association (MBPA), honored 101 West Michigan companies that set the standard for innovation and implementation for human resources initiatives. This year's winning companies were honored at West Michigan's 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For(TM) annual awards luncheon. Of the 101 Best and Brightest Companies honored, 12 Elite Winners were named.
The 12 Elite winners are selected based on their overall high scores and then named an Elite winner in their highest performing category. (See list of Elite winners following.) The most prestigious award, the "Best of the Best," was presented to Southwest Michigan First of Kalamazoo, which demonstrated excellence in all categories.
To celebrate Earth Week, we asked members of our exclusive CNBC-YPO (Young Presidents' Organization) Chief Executive Network to tell us how their companies go green and what economic benefit they see from these initiatives.
Marc Schupan, CEO of Schupan & Sons, a Kalamazoo, Mich.-based recycler of aluminum, plastic and scrap metal gives his thoughts on "Fueling Up Savings."Full Story
Lori Moore, host of the daily Lori Moore Show on WKZO Radio AM-590, interviews Dr. Rob DeWit, president and CEO of the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, on April 30, 2013. Dr. DeWit discusses the 10-year history of SMIC, its successful clients and the partnership behind the life science incubator.Full Story
The Edward Lowe Foundation recently named its 2013 50 Companies To Watch in Michigan with the Innovation Award going to RealBio Technology Inc., one of the incubator companies at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center in Kalamazoo.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Western Michigan University Board of Trustees approved the sale of 8.55 acres of land to Southwest Michigan First, who plans to develop the future design center for Newell Rubbermaid on the property.
Southwest Michigan First is constructing the $4 million facility at the WMU Business, Technology and Research Park.Full Story
Centreville -- About 40 people gathered Tuesday for a manufacturing forum at Glen Oaks Community College in Centreville. The event was presented by several organizations, including Southwest Michigan First.
Representatives attended from local manufacturing companies such as Owens Products, Central Manufacturing Services, Krontz Machine, Sturgis Molded Products, Vaupel, Metalloid, LTi Printing, Abbott, American Metal, Manchester Industries and TH Plastics.
CENTREVILLE — Two facts emerged from a roundtable discussion Tuesday morning between county manufacturers, employment specialists, and educators: manufacturing is alive, well and vital to St. Joseph County, and qualified employees are hard to find.Full Story
CENTREVILLE, MI -- Von Washington Jr., of regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First, and George Erickcek, of the employment think-tank W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, will help stimulate conversation among area manufacturers at an upcoming forum roundtable Tuesday (April 16) at Glen Oaks Community College.Those interested in participating should RSVP with Diane Zinsmaster at 269-294-4233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
brand as business bit: “Leadership requires we do small things well.” That gem was one of several I gleaned from Ron Kitchens‘ opening to Catalyst U, a conference I had the privilege of speaking at a couple of months ago.Full Story
Businesses play an essential role in Michigan’s economy. Business is the economic engine that pays people for their time and contribution and converts their work into products and services that customers need.Full Story
Sharpie, Irwin Tools, Dymo, Calphalon, Rubbermaid, Rubbermaid Commercial Products and Graco, not to mention Goody, Waterman, Lenox, Paper-Mate, Parker, Aprica and more—are all owned by Newell Rubbermaid, which owns 40 brands in total. And having that much product diversity may be good news to those of you ID students set to graduate in 2014, and willing to move to Michigan: Newell Rubbermaid has announced they're consolidating 15 industrial design teams into one massive one, to be located at their first global design center.Full Story
Jennifer Owens, vice president of Southwest Michigan First, joined host KenLanphear to talk about the inaugural Catalyst Community Challenge at this year's Borgess Run.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI — Gov. Rick Snyder announced on Wednesday that Newell Rubbermaid will bring 100 new design jobs to Kalamazoo.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Up to 100 jobs are coming to Kalamazoo, as a firm that markets some of the best-known consumer brands in America plans to build a facility in Kalamazoo.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI — The jobs at the Newell Rubbermaid design center in Kalamazoo will pay $70,000 to $90,000 annually, said Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – As part of the package to lure Newell Rubbermaid to Kalamazoo, city officials are offering $164,000 in tax abatements.Full Story
KALAMAZOO — Newell Rubbermaid Inc. plans to open a design center in Kalamazoo, creating what Gov. Rick Snyder calls “well-paying” design jobs that pay an average of up to $80,000 annually.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First has been named one of West Michigan’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in 2013.Full Story
KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Southwest Michigan First has been awarded the honor of being among West Michigan’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in 2013.Full Story
STURGIS, MI – Sturgis is being ranked No. 23 in Site Selection magazine’s March 2013 issue of Top Micropolitans for 2012.Full Story
Congratulations to our Jennifer Owens featured as a Leader & Innovator by Lawrence Technological University.Full Story
Kellogg's, Stryker Corporation and Whirlpool rank among the Most Admired Companies.Full Story
In her second installment in what is turning out to be a series of posts on choice words from the Southwest Michigan First’s Catalyst 2013 conference, Denise Lee Yohn shares a brand as business bit: “You can’t have fantastic breakthroughs without frustrating failures.”
Find out what from Southwest Michigan First's Tim Terrentine's previous roles prepared him for his new role at The Chamber.Full Story
This feature is proudly sponsored by our awesome friends at AmeriFirst Home Mortgage:
The main goal of Southwest Michigan First’s mission is to assist companies in growing jobs; that manifests itself in various ways through employment, innovation, leadership and capital. SWMF’s passion and unique approach to community development has garnered the much-deserved attention of similar organizations across Michigan and throughout the United States.
Sometimes you learn the best lessons when you look in your own backyard.
That thought that crossed my mind as I prepared my keynote address for Catalyst 2013, sponsored by the economic development group, Southwest Michigan First held last month in Kalamazoo...Full Story
THREE RIVERS, MI – American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings, Inc. (AAM) is investing more than $100 million in its manufacturing facility in Three Rivers, which includes the addition of 500 jobs.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – The initial offering of Zoetis Inc., the former animal health business of Pfizer Inc., had investors excited Friday on Wall Street, but taking a wait-and-see approach in Kalamazoo.Full Story
THREE RIVERS, MI – American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. is on track to hire 500 hourly factory workers and about 40 salaried employees at its Three Rivers facility, the company announced Friday.Full Story
In 2011, Kalamazoo Community College/Groves Center reached out to 26 local companies and seven service provider organizations to help the college develop an integrated model to attract, screen and train qualified candidates for current and future Advanced Manufacturing career opportunities in Southwest Michigan. A direct result of the consortium’s work is the formation of the Production Technician Academy— six-week, fast-track training designed to provide people with an easy way to gain entry-level skills for careers in moldmaking and manufacturing.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI — Every mayor needs a mayor to look up to. For Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell, it's Newark's Cory Booker.
Hopewell met privately with Booker after the Newark, N.J. mayor spoke to an audience of nearly 800 people at Southwest Michigan First's Catalyst University on Wednesday morning.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI — Mayor Cory Booker said there is still work to be done. While many people see life as a "spectator sport," our calling, Booker said, "is to get into the game" and do something.
Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., spoke to a crowd of nearly 800 people here as part of Southwest Michigan First’s Catalyst leadership event.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Jon Acuff tells a good story about attending a New York Knicks basketball game.
Acuff was among 12 featured speakers at Catalyst, a graduate-level, day-long training event focused on motivating area business people, professionals, civic leaders and others to take the next steps to effect positive change in the community, their working lives and their personal lives.Full Story
ORLANDO, FLA – One of Southwest Michigan First's business-growth specialists has been named to a list of the Top 40 up-and-coming economic development professionals in the United States.
Jennifer Owens, vice president of Southwest Michigan First, has been named a member of Development Counsellors International's “40 Under 40," the first-ever awards program to recognize young talent in the economic development profession.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Southwest Michigan’s connection with the state of Michigan’s business development and job-creation resources has to be considered stronger with the announcement Tuesday that the state’s business growth team is expanding here.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – The 2013 Catalyst event, an annual graduate-level business leadership experience hosted by Southwest Michigan First, is breaking new ground.
The day-long event, which features a phalanx of educational and motivational speakers to inspire business people, professionals and others to greater heights of leadership, expects record attendance Wednesday in downtown Kalamazoo.Full Story
MENDON, MI — International Automotive Components, the largest employer in Mendon, is expected to increase its workforce by more than 10 percent over the next two years, a company official said.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI –The operating center for more than 1,500 miles of high-speed fiber optics stretching around the fringe areas of Michigan is now located in Kalamazoo.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Lynx Network Group is ready to show off it's new headquarters. The wholesale provider of telecommunication services to businesses has new digs in the F & V Engineering Technology Center, at 4798 Campus Drive in Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI — As president of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tim Terrentine says he will help small businesses, work hard to implement what Chamber member want, and the Chamber will not become a subsidiary of Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Starting Feb. 1, Southwest Michigan First will administer and oversee the programs of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce, under contract to the Chamber’s board of directors and its 800 business members. Join Live chat today to hear from Southwest Michigan First's Tim Terrentine, the new Chamber president.Full Story
KALAMAZOO — Southwest Michigan First and the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce Friday announced a strategic alliance designed to take advantage of regional dynamics and improve the overall competitive position of the region.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – It’s about jobs, leaders at Southwest Michigan First say of their organization being contracted to oversee programs and services for the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Southwest Michigan First is getting together with the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce. Southwest Michigan First, the regional economic development organization, and the Chamber, a business advocacy organization with more than 800 members, say they have aligned missions and services "to better meet the needs of small business and advocate public policy to improve the region’s overall competitive position in the state and nation."Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – A Kalamazoo-based high-tech company has won two industry awards for medical-related apps. Maestro won silver in the Best Advance in Unique Sales and Marketing Technology and Best Advance in Performance Support Technology categories from the 2012 Brandon Hall Excellence in Technology Awards.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Greg "Gonzo" Haner, a longtime homebrewer and the former brewmaster at Olde Peninsula Brewpub, said he plans to open a new microbrewery in downtown Kalamazoo.Full Story
Portage, Michigan - Mno-Bmadsen, the economic development enterprise of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Accu-Mold Inc., a plastics engineering and tooling company that specializes in metal to plastic conversions.Full Story
Looking ahead at 2013, what keeps you up at night? That's one of several questions MiBiz asked more than 100 of the region's executives and business owners, including Southwest Michigan First's Ron Kitchens.Full Story
BANGOR — Driven by projected long-term growth in the global mining industry and strong demand for metals, one Southwest Michigan-based mining equipment supplier plans a major expansion of its capacity that could nearly double its workforce.Full Story
WASHINGTON -- Food makers, including Kellogg and Post, made Battle Creek the cereal city decades ago.
But the south-central Michigan city is attracting increased federal attention -- and funding -- for one of the hottest and most important issues on the planet these days: food safety.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – A coordinated effort began about seven years ago to help companies in greater Kalamazoo find talented young people and help college students find meaningful career opportunities here.
“The goal is to keep kids who have a connection to Kalamazoo in Kalamazoo after graduating high school,” said Petey Stephanak, of Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
St. Joseph County Commission chairman Rick Shaffer had mixed feelings as he presented his list of 2012 highlights to commissioners Dec. 18. Shaffer’s list of 2012 highlights included: Approved an agreement with the St. Joseph County Economic Development Corp. which developed a partnership with Southwest Michigan First and Southwest Michigan Partnership, LLC...Full Story
One of the keys to success in economic development today is regionalism. Cornerstone is pleased to be working in partnership with three different regional groups including the Michiana Partnership, Southwest Michigan Economic Growth Alliance and being a part of region six in the state of Michigan as led by Southwest Michigan First out of Kalamazoo.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Kalamazoo County is ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth, according to a nationwide index that tries to track future success. Kalamazoo was ranked 9th among the top 10 large communities (those with populations between 150,000 and 499,999) in the Fourth Economy Community Index.Full Story
For those communities looking to establish an entrepreneurial environment, crowdfunding opens up a new "port of entry" for sustainable business ventures.Full Story
Getman Corporation plans to invest $5.5 million to expand its operations in Comstock Charter Township, Michigan, a project expected to generate up to 150 new jobs east of Kalamazoo. The manufacturer of custom mobile equipment for the underground mining industry, said it has outgrown its existing facility and plans to open a second facility in Comstock.Full Story
COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Getman Corporation announced Wednesday plans to open its second manufacturing facility in southwest Michigan.Full Story
LANSING – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation today announced Michigan Strategic Fund approval of a $300,000 Michigan Business Development Program incentive for Getman Corporation to expand its operations in Comstock Charter Township, a project that will generate up to $5.5 million in new private investment and add 150 new jobs.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Two controversial bills that would make Michigan the 24th right-to-work state moved one step closer to Gov. Rick Snyder's desk Tuesday.Full Story
Last February, the St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation and Southwest Michigan First formalized a partnership for economic development services.
A lot has happened since February. Members of the EDC attended Tuesday’s meeting of the St. Joseph County Commissioners to say they are very satisfied with the partnership.
PORTAGE, MI – Inc.com, the online presence of Inc. Magazine, has awarded AmeriFirst Home Mortgage with two of its inaugural Hire Power Awards for job creation.Full Story
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, MICHIGAN -- “Overall, I’ve got to tell you that I’m really pleased with the partnership.”
These were the words Ken Jones, president of the St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) board, used to sum up the working relationship with Kalamazoo-based Southwest Michigan First in 2012.
PORTAGE, MI – More than 100 new manufacturing jobs coming to Portage in the next two years can be likened to a Christmas present, its happy mayor said.
With the approval of its most recent tax break Tuesday to Bowers Manufacturing, Portage will see nearly 120 new manufacturing jobs coming out of the dormant industrial sector that is battling back from the Great Recession.
A new start-up, Impact Athletic, is the latest company to emerge from the Michigan Medical Device Accelerator.
The company has been growing inside Tekna, Inc. for the past two years with the help of Michigan Medical Device Accelerator's connections to the region's existing health science infrastructure and its related services.
KALAMAZOO, MI – Kalamazoo County saw its lowest unemployment rate in more than four years in October, falling below 6 percent for the first time since April 2008, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.Full Story
KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Southwest Michigan First's success with attracting firms to the overall region has given way to a more focused effort on the City of Kalamazoo itself.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Kalamazoo and Portage residents had a little more cash in their wallets in 2011, according to new figures released by the government.
Total personal incomes in the Kalamazoo-Portage area rose 4.66 percent in 2011, the highest amount since the Great Recession began, according to figures released Monday by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Part of the city of Kalamazoo's economic development duties will be outsourced to Southwest Michigan First in a $225,000 agreement unanimously approved by the Kalamazoo City Commission Monday. The contract will start Dec. 1 and will run through Nov. 30, 2015.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- On the first level of the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, 2,300 square feet of secure wet lab space complete with sophisticated scientific equipment has been put in place to help tiny life science businesses grow.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Who should we be paying attention to in 2013? MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette will be sending theTop 3 nominees from Southwest Michigan next week for a special year-end MLive report, and requests your help.
On the business front, Southwest Michigan First's Ron Kitchens has been nominated. Vote today!Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – It just got a little easier for scientists to strike out on their own in Kalamazoo.
The Southwest Michigan Innovation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 13, unveiled its new core wet lab, complete with centrifuges, nitrogen generators, autoclaves, incubators and mass spectrometers.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- "Jobs" is the answer you are most likely to hear if you ask an employee of Southwest Michigan First about its mission.
“The most powerful force for change is a well-paying job,” Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of the economic development organization, is known to say.
But it turns out that having a job at Southwest Michigan First isn't such a bad thing either.
KALAMAZOO, Michigan - The National Association for Business Resources named Southwest Michigan First to its 2012 list of the nation’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. Additionally, Southwest Michigan First was selected the overall Elite winner in the category of Small-Size Business.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First is proud to be named one of Michigan's Healthiest Employers. See the feature on page 15 (17 of the .pdf).Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Researchers want to know what business leaders think are Kalamazoo's best assets and greatest challenges. The W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and Southwest Michigan First are conducting an invitation-only online survey about the vitality of Kalamazoo and how that translates into economic development for the region.Full Story
KALAMAZOO — The Urban Land Institute of Michigan’s first-ever Kalamazoo event sparked some interesting conversation about Michigan’s future and the prospects ahead of the state.
The program, “Industry Insights: The Catalysts of Urban Growth & Economic Development,” brought MPI Research CEO William Parfet and Taubman Centers Inc. CEO Robert Taubman together to share their thoughts on the opportunities for Michigan’s next economy.
KALAMAZOO -- Ron Kitchens at SouthWest Michigan First says Detroit’s comeback is helping make it easier to market the rest of Michigan to developers.Full Story
PORTAGE, MI – Mueller Industries’ announcement that it will spend $26.5 million to expand on Sprinkle Road in Portage is actually a homecoming for the company.Full Story
PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) - A Tennessee-based company has selected Portage, Mich. for a $26.5 million investment. The City of Portage has approved an industrial property tax abatement worth $862,627 over five years for Mueller Industries, Inc. Seventy-eight jobs will be created over two years locally as a result of this facility and equipment investment.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – The leader of Southwest Michigan First says ‘Vote No’ statements the economic development organization will release late Tuesday or early Wednesday regarding several Michigan ballot proposals, are intended to help clear away impediments to job-creation. “It’s about job-creation,” said Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
STURGIS — A luncheon audience Wednesday at the Sturgis Rotary Club included a Three Rivers contingent as well as legislators Matt Lori and Fred Upton, all there to hear a progress report from Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First, whose agency has been hired by St. Joseph County to boost its economic development.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – Urban development issues, with Kalamazoo experiences in focus, will be highlighted next week when this city hosts a gathering of the Michigan District Council of the Urban Land Institute. The program will feature a discussion between William U. Parfet, chairman and chief executive officer of Mattawan-based scientific research firm MPI Research, and Robert S. Taubman, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Taubman Centers Inc., the Bloomfield Hills-based international developer of shopping malls. Their conversation will be moderated by Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
Sam Hogg has joined Open Prairie Ventures’ West Michigan office as a venture partner, with primary responsibilities including screening new investments and managing existing ones in the Open Prairie Ventures II and Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund portfolios. Hogg joins OPV as part of a program administered by the Michigan Venture Capital Association – aimed to encourage venture funds to hire local Michigan talent.Full Story
Kalamazoo-based Axonia Medical Inc.'s method for engineering and transplanting nerve grafts could enhance the function of damaged peripheral nerves more quickly and robustly than current methods.Full Story
THREE RIVERS, MI – American Axle & Manufacturing plans to donate $400,000 to the city of Three Rivers to allow the municipality to purchase more police, fire and/or other needed service vehicles.Full Story
Michigan has the 12th-friendliest tax system in the nation, thanks to the elimination last year of a complicated business tax, according to the Washington D.C.-based Tax Foundation.Full Story
ANN ARBOR — The Michigan 2013 Economic Outlook Survey is a flagship report that will be issued the first week of January. More than 70 associations across the state will be participating in this program, including Southwest Michigan First.
KALAMAZOO, MI – With a hearty “Willkommen in Kalamazoo,” local, regional, state and federal officials welcomed German orchid cultivation company Hark Orchids to Comstock Township on Thursday afternoon.Full Story
KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Hundreds of local dignitaries turned out to welcome Hark Orchids to Kalamazoo for an official groundbreaking ceremony and mini-Octoberfest.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI -- “It’s 70 jobs next year,” economic development leader Ron Kitchens said, providing the bottom line on Hark Orchids’ decision to locate its first international operation here.Full Story
Thursday, October 4, marked the groundbreaking for a $6.5 million state of the art laboratory for Hark Orchid's at the Midlink Business Park.Full Story
KALAMAZOO, MI – The 3,800-square foot office that Lynx Network Group is establishing in Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park will give it its first-ever home base as it grows its business all over the state.Full Story
The Kalamazoo area's growing craft beer industry has seen the announcement or fruition of more than $25 million in investment since spring, and more could be on tap as Kalamazoo grows its label as a "beer city."Full Story
A ceremonial ground-breaking event will be held Thursday, Oct. 4 at the five-acre lot purchased by Hark Orchids from Midlink. “Southwest Michigan First thanks Hark Orchids for selecting our region for location. On behalf of our community partners who were instrumental in our attraction efforts, we welcome Hark and look forward to watching the company grow here in Southwest Michigan,” said Ron Kitchens, ceo of Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
Welcoming environment draws growing biotech Tolera to downtown Kalamazoo.Full Story
Re-charging and re-energizing entrepreneurship in incubators: Tolera Therapeutics selects downtown Kalamazoo for its ongoing efforts.Full Story
When it comes to work, PharmOptima in Portage is a company that emerged from the life sciences incubator Southwest Michigan Innovation Center to grow into an enterprise that is helping to solidify the region’s reputation as one offering knowledge-based employers that can attract and retain talented professionalsFull Story
RSB Transmissions NA, which makes auto and heavy equipment parts, plans to build a 66,000-square-foot factory to expand in the village of Homer and create 100 jobs. The firm plans to invest $14.4 million and will be awarded a $350,000 incentive from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.Full Story
A better future awaits...Kalamazoo promises. For the vast majority of the 500-plus students who graduate each year in Kalamazoo, a better future really does await after they collect their diplomas. The high-school degrees come with the biggest present most of them will ever receive: free college.Full Story
Western Michigan University (WMU) is just one of four Michigan public universities included in the U.S. News & World Report's annual list of top-tier national universities. This is the 22nd year WMU has appeared in the magazine's top grouping of best national universities.Full Story
"The whole idea of a regional strategy makes great sense and we've had great buy-in," says Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
Nature’s Fuel has announced it has secured funding for the purchase of the former Rexam building, relevant upgrades and equipment. The company plans to hire at least 130 employees.Full Story
Jobs planned for plant! Bill Sinish, CEO-chairman of Nature’s Fuel, announcing the purchase of the former Rexam plant in Constantine. The company plans to create more than 130 jobs.Full Story
Governor Rick Snyder visits Kalamazoo to talk with community leaders on urban and metropolitan initiatives.Full Story
Gov. Rick Snyder was in Kalamazoo to meet with local stakeholders on issues surrounding the state's vital urban cores.Full Story
Governor Snyder hit Kalamazoo on Thursday to focus on positive talk surrounding jobs and the state's urban core cities.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First will host Governor Rick Snyder and regional leaders in business, the private sector, the nonprofit sector, government, education and other areas during a special closed session to help develop a statewide strategy for urban development and growth.Full Story
Kalamazoo, a four-time 100 Best Communities for Young People winner as named by America's Promise Alliance, continues to be recognized for its ongoing commitment to helping young people grow in a healthy, save and supportive environment.Full Story
American Axle expects to “add 400 to 500 jobs in the next couple years” at its Three Rivers driveline plant in Southwest Michigan.Full Story
Battle Creek’s cluster of automotive parts suppliers, and its innovative industrial training center played into Janesville Acoustics’ decision to expand to Battle Creek. The company announced it would spend $10 million to renovate and equip a plant at 2500 Logistics Drive, off Skyline Drive. It said 225 workers will be employed there.Full Story
Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. (MBI), a leading global provider of natural pest management products for the agricultural and water treatment markets breaks ground on its Marrone Michigan Manufacturing facility in Bangor, Michigan!Full Story
Kalamazoo-based CeeTox has teamed with Cellular Dynamics International located in Madison, Wisconsin to introduce a service that uses stem cells to help researchers screen potential new drugs for cardiac toxicity.Full Story
Southcentral Michigan Planning Council is in the process of reorganizing after a 10-year lapse in activity.Full Story
Tim Terrentine, featured on Michigan Business Radio's Business Beat, talks about economic development in Southwest Michigan and looking forward to the future.
Gretta Terrentine has been named executive director of the Greg Jennings Foundation. Terrentine will take over all operations and programming for the Kalamazoo-based foundation and carry out the vision of Greg and Nicole Jennings, working to help and empower young people throughout the Midwest.Full Story
A designer and manufacturer of accessories that let users do more with their portable devices, mophie, is expanding and its growth is happening in Kalamazoo. The company announced plans Wednesday for a 30,000-square-foot facility at Business Technology and Research Park on the Western Michigan University campus.Full Story
Mophie, the growing company that develops the "juice pack" power cells for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, will soon relocate its distribution operations from Paw Paw into the Business Technology and Research Park at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.Full Story
Results from that work being done by Kalamazoo-based Metabolic Solutions Development Co. may reveal strategies to treat people with dementia that results from Alzheimer’s disease.Full Story
Von Washington Jr. plans to put an especially large number of miles on his car in the next several months as he engages in the project of familiarizing himself with St. Joseph County and its business community.Full Story
Standing before a gentle bend in the Kalamazoo River, Tim Surprise -- owner and founder of Arcadia Brewing Co. -- began the final leg of what has become a 16 year journey.Full Story
Following a lengthy search, Von Washington, Jr. has been selected to become the second economic development specialist employed by the Kalamazoo non-profit agency Southwest Michigan First to operate within St. Joseph County to promote economic growth and business retention and expansion.Full Story
Arcadia Brewing Co. broke ground Thursday on the site of its new pub, production facility, brew house and eatery along Kalamazoo’s riverfront after a news conference in which owner Tim Suprise expressed excitement about the expansion.Full Story
Arcadia Ales is expected to build a 4,500-square-foot barbecue-themed brewpub and 24,000-square-foot beer production facility on the Kalamazoo riverfront, according to a release from the brewery and Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
It was a homecoming party of sorts for owner Tim Suprise and his Arcadia Brewing Co. during a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of the brewery's primary production facility along the Kalamazoo River. Suprise told the crowd at the event he intended to open his brewery in Kalamazoo 16 years ago, but the project transitioned to Battle Creek, where it opened in 1996. But thanks to an aggressive campaign from Kalamazoo and several local organizations, Arcadia's expansion project will move the brewery's primary production facility to downtown's east end by next summer.Full Story
Von Washington, Jr. joins the Southwest Michigan First team to focus on the organization's business growth initiatives.Full Story
Coldwater Board of Public Utilities is thinking about bringing about bringing back special economic development electric ratese that spurred local conomic development in the 1990s.
Arcadia Brewing Co. plans to build a barbecue-themed brewpub and production facility on Kalamazoo's riverfront in 2013. Tim Suprise, president and founder of Arcadia Brewing Co., said Arcadia will help Kalamazoo reclaim its riverfront and add a new dimension to the River's Edge area.Full Story
Open Prairie Ventures and Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund have collaborated for five years. Now the former will be moving into an advisory role over both funds as part of a management agreement entered into by both.
Illinois-based venture capital fund Open Prairie Ventures has inked a management agreement with the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund. Patrick Morand, who has been managing director of the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Venture Fund, becomes president of Open Prairie Ventures and becomes a managing partner of Open Prairie Ventures III.Full Story
Effingham-based Open Prairie Ventures is increasing its ties with the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund based in southwest Michigan.
What advice would you give a recent graduate entering the economic development profession? Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens and Mike Finney, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, share their perspectives.Full Story
The two venture firms based in the Midwest that have a five-year history of working closely together have decided to join forces, investors told VentureWire.Full Story
On this day in 1923, the first Checker Taxi hit the streets. The Checker Taxi, one of Kalamazoo's innovations, is the most famous taxi in the United States.Full Story
Looking for something to do? Try Kalamazoo. Midwest Living features the Midwest city in its July/August 2012 issue.Full Story
Kalamazoo, MI-based Metabolic Solutions Development Company, a company formed to develop drugs and discover new molecular targets in the treatment of insulin resistance, spent the weekend in Philadephia for the American Diabetes Association conference. While there, company officials presented findings about a newly discovered protein complex through which anti-diabetic drugs exert their insulin-sensitizing effects.Full Story
Area leaders got an update on the economy in general from experts last week at the annual Branch County Economic Summit, and there was good local news as well.
At the Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest 12th Annual Statewide Business Plan Competition Award Ceremony at Entrepreneur Connect 2012, the Michigan Medical Device Accelerator Innovation Award in the amount of $10,000 was presented to Ann Arbor-based Warmilu LLC by Kevin McLeod, vice president, Southwest Michigan First, and managing director, Michigan Medical Device Accelerator.
Having Pfizer’s Animal Health business spun off as a separate company has the potential to give it -- and Kalamazoo -- a higher profile.Full Story
“In today’s market cash and availability of capital are critical issues,” said Ron Kitchens, ceo of Southwest Michigan First. Michigan has been making strides to speed up that process.Full Story
Ron Kitchens will be featured "forecaster" today in Coldwater at the CHC Conference Center for the 2012 Branch County Economic Summit.
Zeigler Automotive Group invests in Southwest Michigan! “People who are going to change this economy, who are going to create the path for our ship to go forward, and who are going to set that course, are the people in this room,” said Ron Kitchens at Monday's dedication of the group's Kalamazoo Honda dealershipFull Story
Michigan had the 6th fastest-growing gross domestic product in the nation last year! The state’s GDP rose 2.3 percent last year after growing by 4.9 percent in 2010, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.Full Story
How do people who give advice to companies about where to expand, invest and hire new workers think about Michigan? Southwest Michigan First brings leading site consultants this week to the Mackinac Policy Conference to weigh in on these issues with Governor Snyder.Full Story
As the annual Mackinac Policy Conference opens today, the Detroit Regional Chamber will announce plans to launch an economic development campaign for the region, with a goal of raising about $2 million a year to start. In setting this goal, the chamber looked at regional groups like Southwest Michigan First in Kalamazoo that have historically put money behind economic development.Full Story
Productivity revives manufacturing employment. The Wall Street Journal features American Axle's Three Rivers' plant in how production is returning to the U.S.Full Story
David Holley, "The Deal" reporter, visits Kalamazoo to report on how that city is reinventing itself as "a burgeoning Midwestern center for life sciences."Full Story
The region’s unique incubator program will be better able to do its job -- fostering the ideas of inventors of medical devices that have the best potential for creating jobs in Michigan -- with $400,000 in support it’s received from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.Full Story
Ready to roll! The first Production Technician Academy is scheduled to begin on May 29 at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Sponosred by area manufacturers the Academy was designed to meet the growing demand for qualified production workers and fill local manufacturing jobs.Full Story
The Michigan Medical Device Accelerator, a program started two years ago by Southwest Michigan First to stimulate the development of medical devices – and thereby create more local jobs – has $400,000 in new funding care of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, of Battle Creek.
Warehousing and distribution specialist Kenco is expanding its operations at the Midlink Business Park to serve a U.S. company that manufactures products for the food industry. The expansion is expected to create 12 new jobs.Full Story
Economic Gardening holds interest for those as young as 7 at a Sturgis 2022 open house where Ron Kitchens, ceo of Southwest Michigan First, explored the topic starting with history from 190 B.C.Full Story
CBS Detroit's Tech Tour stops in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek! Stops included Forensic Fluids, Metabolic Solutions Development, Axonia Medical, the Core Lab at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center and the Global Food Protection Institute.Full Story
Market Growth: PNC Bank today announced it will expand its Western Michigan market to include 41 counties from Kalamazoo to Traverse City. Sean Welsh, director of Southwest Michigan First, has been appointed to serve as regional president of the expanded region.
Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First and professional with 28 years of economic development experience, will be keynote speaker on Wednesday, May 14 to kick-off the "Sturgis 2022" initiative.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First has long had a strong relationship with site consultants who can bring corporate investments and jobs. Now, the organization is helping counterparts around the state benefit from its contacts and expertise in that arena.
Kalamazoo-based Axonia Medical nets $2 million to develop new treatments to help repair injuries to the human nervous system.Full Story
"You have to have somebody who's willing not to take the credit," encouraged Tim Terrentine during the Michigan Chronicle's recent "Pancakes and Politics" forum that studied urban cities.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First named 101 Best & Brightest Elite winner in the category of Employee Achievement and Recognition.Full Story
In some circles, "cheapskate" is a derogatory term. But in a world where everyday expenses seem to be rising, well, every day, thriftiness isn't shameful. In fact, it's just good common sense. Kalamazoo Ranks #4 on Kipilinger's 10 Best Cities for Cheapskates.
Ron Kitchens, ceo of Southwest Michigan First, will speak at Chick-fil-A Leadercast on Friday, May 3 at the Western Michigan University Fetzer Center.Full Story
During the most recent "Pancakes and Politics," an ongoing state-wide discussion on urban collaboration, Tim Terrentine of Southwest Michigan First shared some ideas that his organization is working on from a regional approach.Full Story
Sometimes being cheap is a good thing...(and Kalamazoo is definitely a good thing!)Full Story
Kalamazoo ranks #4 on Kiplinger's 10 Best Cities list where a "dollar stretches futher." Kalamazoo's living costs were said to be the lowest among the best 10 cities on the list -- 13 percent below the national average.Full Story
At the latest installment of the Michigan Chronicle’s “Pancakes and Politics” series, held at the Detroit Athletic Club, Panelist Tim Terrentine, vice president of the Kalamazoo economic development agency Southwest Michigan First, reported collaboration is on the rise.Full Story
What should Sturgis look like in 10 years? City commissioners are seeking input from residents. An open house for Sturgis 2022 will be held May 16 at Sturges-Young Auditorium and will feature Ron Kitchens of Southwest Michigan First as a speaker.
Whirlpool Corp. has pushed ahead 16 places on Corporate Responsibility Magazine's list of 100 Best Corporate Citizens. It is the 10th consecutive year Whirlpool has made the list, which is regarded as the top corporate responsibility ranking based on publicly available information.
Southwest Michigan First's Tim Terrentine will join the talk of urban cities as economic catalysts as well as what the east side and west side of the state can learn from each other, during the next “Pancakes and Politics” this Thursday at the Detroit Athletic Club.Full Story
Portage earns Tree City USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation for the 22nd straight year.Full Story
With additional work and site upgrades in Three Rivers, American Axle has reached the "turning point in the road for the better."Full Story
Experts hope high-speed rail would closely link SW Michigan to ChicagoFull Story
Niles-based Delta Industrial keeps finding a way to spur job creation. The manufacturer which supplies valves for oil refineries has tripled its work force in the past five years, according to president and co-owner Keith Stelter.Full Story
Business leaders will be able to have a little Tebow Time soon in Kalamazoo! During the Chick-fil-A Leadercast on May 4, Tim Tebow will be a featured speaker at the event sponsored in Kalamazoo by regional economic development firm Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
Local employers have vowed to help students seeking manufacturing jobs pay for training through Kalamazoo Valley Community College's new Production Technician Academy. Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Glen Oaks Community College, Michigan Works! Kalamazoo/St. Joseph Counties, Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency and Southwest Michigan First have collaborated to launch the training academy.
Things are warming up for a Kalamazoo chilling company! Dimplex Thermal Solutions Inc. plans to almost double its current production space. The firm, which employs 180 people fulltime, plans to hire another 100 people.Full Story
10 high-powered site-selection consultants who help businesses make decisions about where to locate or expand operations met last week with representatives from top sites in the nation.
Mike Finney, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Ron Kitchens, CEO of the Kalamazoo area's Southwest Michigan First economic development agency, gave Michigan two of the seven seats at the summit arranged by Development Counselors International
In Kalamazoo, over 600 job seekers, 30 employers and community-driven organizations, including Southwest Michigan First, helped make the second annual Mt. Zion Baptist Church Community Job Fair a resounding success.Full Story
Gov. Rick Snyder, second from right, meets Friday with officials of Hark Orchids L.P. to announce company's new Kalamazoo location. From left, they are: Anja Hark-Bormann, Oliver Bormann, Ingrid Hark, Fritz Hark, Snyder and Karl-Heinz Lapornkik.Full Story
A flower company headquartered in Lippstadt, will invest approximately $5 million to establish its first orchid facility outside of Germany in Kalamazoo.Full Story
A German company will invest about $5 million in the Kalamazoo area over the next few years to establish a U.S. base to breed orchids.
Hark Orchids has plans to build its first U.S. facility at the Midlink Business Park on Sprinkle Road, south of I-94, and create up to 80 jobs here in the next three to five years.
An orchid propagation company headquartered in Germany plans to invest about $5 million to build a facility in Kalamazoo.Full Story
Orchid propagation Hark Orchids L.P., based in Germany, plans to invest about $5 million to build a facility in Kalamazoo, Mich.Full Story
The company Hark Orchids L.P. will be opening its first facility outside of its headquarters in Kalamazoo. The German based orchid company plans to invest roughly $5 million to build a 30,000 sq. ft. climate controlled laboratory operation to hybridized and cultivate orchids.
Hark Orchids L.P. will spend $5 million to build facility in KalamazooFull Story
The Greater Kalamazoo United Way surpassed its goal of raising $9.3 million for its 2011 campaign, while increasing the number of donors and volunteers. Southwest Michigan First partners with local organizations to help lead effort!Full Story
There are a lot of great places to work in Southwest Michigan and Southwest Michigan First is one of them!Full Story
That Michigan Show hits "the road" with a stop in Kalamazoo to interview, Ron Kitchens, ceo of Southwest Michigan First. Ron discusses the economic strategy for the Southwest Region as well as his personal motivations for success.Full Story
Jennifer Owens, vice president of regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First, will join a delegation from Michigan on Wednesday and Thursday in Germany to court business there.Full Story
Gov. Rick Snyder is heading to Italy and Germany for a week-long trade mission to encourage investment in Michigan and promote the state’s export offerings.Full Story
Gov. Rick Snyder embarks Saturday on a week-long trade mission to Italy and Germany for meetings with auto executives and other businesses.Full Story
Reaching out to site consultants nationwide for impressions of Michigan and suggestions for change, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently teamed with the Southwest Michigan First development group from Kalamazoo to quiz site selectors from Atlanta, Chicago, South Carolina and Cleveland. Future trips are planned to Dallas, Boston and other markets to solicit -- and hopefully improve -- opinions of site consultants in those areas about Michigan.Full Story
Gov. Rick Snyder stopped in Kalamazoo today to talk about his plan to improve public safety and to highlight some of the collaboration efforts made by law enforcement agencies in Kalamazoo County.Full Story
Bill Johnston, Past Chair of Southwest Michigan First, has been named Chairman of the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees.Full Story
Tim Terrentine gives back to his community through his duties at Southwest Michigan First. Through First 50, he is working to help create the area's future leaders.Full Story
Southwest Michigan has an important place in the world of exporting, based on the products and technologies that are developed here. A recent report indicates that exporting from the Kalamazoo/Portage area has the potential to grow by 79.5 percent by the year 2020.
For Calhoun County, experts say pockets of real opportunity exist in region.Full Story
To accommodate its growth in Michigan, Maine Plastics recently moved to a 140,000-square-foot building in Kalamazoo, Mich. The company was also awarded a 2011 Catalyst Award from Southwest Michgian First for their commitment to job creation in Southwest Michigan.
Job boost expected at Sturgis Molded Products with arrival of new machinery.Full Story
Amtrak celebrates increase in train speeds in Kalamazoo Corridor! "This is tremendous for Kalamazoo," says Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First CEO Ron Kitchens talks about the organization's plans for job creation in the region.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First and Grand Rapids-based The Charter Group have formed a new partnership that will bring the mergers and acquisitions advisory fund to Kalamazoo.
Western Michigan University students have a chance to earn a minimum of $8,000 in wages, scholarship funds and other compensation by participating in the 2012 Monroe-Brown Internship Program.Full Story
Doc Hendley, president of international clean water provider Wine to Water, kicks off Southwest Michigan First's 2012 Catalyst University gathering this morning in Kalamazoo. The self-described underachiever from North Carolina explained that there are days when everyone thinks they can't get things done, but a team of people who work together help. And finding something he is passionate about has become his life's work.Full Story
Tererai Trent spoke at Western Michigan University's Fetzer Center on Wednesday, Jan. 25, before her appearance at Catalyst University.
Stryker Corp. has been named one of the top 100 companies to work for in the United States by Fortune magazine.Full Story
Kalamazoo named Top 10 Beer City!Full Story
What will the retail landscape look like in Kalamazoo in the next 5 to 10 years?
"A lot of what we're seeing is redevelopment and meeting the market for the customer's changing palate," says Ron Kitchens, ceo of Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
LANSING — Western Michigan University's Seita Scholars Program was mentioned by Gov. Rick Snyder tonight during his second State of the State address. WMU was also the only university to be mentioned by the governor.Full Story
American Axle is planning a $102-million investment at the Three Rivers site, part of an overall $1.1 billion corporate expansion to create components for a passenger/crossover vehicle being developed and introduced by a yet-unnamed manufacturer. The move could allow the company to create around 300 jobs.Full Story
Southwest Michigan college students: Looking for a job this summer that's more than just scooping ice cream? The Monroe-Brown Internship Program has announced 43 paid internships at 33 area companies for summer 2012 — up from 34 in 2011.
Dr. Tererai Trent, whose moving story of being "the woman who buried her dreams" earned her the designation last May as Oprah Winfrey's favorite guest of all times, will speak at Western Michigan University Wednesday, Jan. 25, before her appearance at Southwest Michigan First's Catalyst University later in the afternoon.
Harry Ledebur, Kalamazoo-based Axonia’s president and CEO, recently let Xconomy know that the company has just raised its first million in seed financing from the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Venture Fund and expects to close on another $500,000 to $1 million in the next six months, bringing Axonia within reach of its goal of $3 million.
In a move that could help Kalamazoo strengthen its base as a life sciences center, the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund.Full Story
Western Michigan University alumna (and Oprah's favorite guest ) Tererai Trent will be on her alma mater's campus Jan. 25 while in town for a Southwest Michigan First's Catalyst University.
With the Kalamazoo area slowly emerging from the recession, more companies will be looking for the best available place to do business. The process of finding that special location often boils down to two basic, interlocking questions: "how big?" and "where?"Full Story
Lt. Gov Brian Calley was among more than half a dozen community leaders and a crowd of more than 50 who appeared at a former Moose Lodge late Monday morning to to voice their support for the construction of a new autism and research center. Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First, attended the "wall breaking" event for the center that is expected to create more than 30 jobs when completed this summer.Full Story
Ron Kitchens' Community Capitalism column featured in MiBiz reminds you take time to say thank you to those who make a difference.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First announces regional focus and expanded Board of Directors.Full Story
Southwest Michigan First has been contracted to provide economic development services in St. Joseph County.Full Story
Axonia Medical raises $1 million to help carry the Kalamazoo, Michigan-based biotech through large-animal trials of its regenerative nervous system repair technology.
St. Joseph County has entered into economic development partnership with Kalamazoo-based Southwest Michigan First.Full Story
KALAMAZOO GAZETTE: New York-based drug giant Pfizer Inc. announced plans on July 7, 2011 to explore “strategic alternatives” for its Animal Health and Nutrition businesses.Full Story
Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, makes his crystall ball predictions for 2012.Full Story
The Southwest Michigan Innovation Center is among a dozen Michigan business incubators that will split $6 million in grants from the Michigan Strategic Fund to help launch and grow start-up companies throughout the state.Full Story
Southwest Michigan Innovation Center receives incubation funding from the Michigan Strategic Fund.Full Story
Perrigo Co.'s new 50,000-square-foot building on Eastern Avenue will provide needed office space for its growing staff now and room for growth in the future, the company's top leadership says.Full Story