In Southwest Michigan, we pride ourselves as being a community famous for many “firsts” and innovative processes. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Checker cabs. Parchment paper. Shakespeare Rod & Reel. Gibson Guitars. Stryker’s turning bed frame. Whirlpool washing machines. All were concepted, designed and “made in Southwest Michigan.” Today, the innovation continues across a variety of industry sectors resulting in a strong and diverse economy.
- Manufacturing: Due to the region’s history of innovation and diversification, current design-based products include Eaton Superchargers and Hybrid Power Systems, cereal cartons by Graphic Packaging International, Whirlpool appliances, Parker Aerospace’s hydraulic components and front and rear axles from American Axle & Manufacturing. The list doesn’t stop there: Pfizer pharmaceuticals, Zoetis’ animal care products, Landscape Forms site furniture, Stryker’s health care furniture and surgical instrumentation, and more all hail from this corner of Michigan.
- Health Sciences: Southwest Michigan is the place where a 150-year life science legacy, collaborative networks supporting complex biological, organic and pharmacological research, and a cadre of clinical and contract research organizations collide. The region’s “perfect formula” offers biological, organic, pharmacological and advanced manufacturing expertise for both human and animal health. One of the nation’s top health science clusters is also buoyed by the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine and the WMed Innovation Center, a 69,000-square-foot life science incubator.
- Medical Devices: In Southwest Michigan, you will find one of the most robust medical device groupings in the U.S. Within the 120-mile radius of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a robust infrastructure that supports the local medical device community which includes Stryker Corporation’s global headquarters, as well as the worldwide sector with design, engineering and manufacturing support, supplies and services.
- Design: Sharpie Pens. Graco Strollers. Coleman Outdoor Gear. Fabri-Kal Greenware. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet Kitchens. These are just a few of the amazing and innovative products that are designed by companies located in Southwest Michigan. There’s no need to look further than the more than 200 Southwest Michigan companies that incorporate design into their product delivery process, students at Western Michigan University’s Richmond School for Design and Innovation, and MIX events attended by 1,200 area design professionals to see that design in Southwest Michigan not only exists—but thrives!
- Food and Beverage Processing: This sector dates to the early 1800s when the region was first settled by European inhabitants. The area’s rich, fertile soil earned it the nickname “The Celery City” when Dutchman Cornelius de Bruin began growing celery along the banks of the Kalamazoo River. The region’s ability to take a product from its roots and process it into another desirable edible form is well-established. Along with being the location of choice for companies like Abbott Laboratories, Kellogg’s and Monsanto, it’s also home to the International Food Protection Training Institute and companies like Kalsec, National Flavors and J. Rettenmaier which make products a delight to the taste.
- Business Services: Human resources outsourcing. Account and data management services. Customer care operations. Looking to optimize your company’s back-office services? Then let Southwest Michigan ring true for your support needs. The region’s attractiveness to companies is marked by a skilled talent pool, access to college students, excellent quality of life, low cost of living and extensive support services.
- Logistics: The region’s pro-business environment, motivated labor pool and affordable wage rates are key attractors for distribution centers like Target, Walmart and FedEx. Offering one of the lowest cost origins in the Midwest, the region’s carrier access includes highway access to more than 78 percent of the U.S. population, rail, Lake Michigan ports and the runways of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport.