economic development | WMUK

economic development

File photo of Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield speaking with reporters on Thursday, May 9, 2019, in the Capitol in Lansing, Mich. Dave Eggert, AP
Dave Eggert / Associated Press

Less than two weeks after being named the new CEO of Southwest Michigan First, former state House Speaker Lee Chatfield announced his resignation Monday morning. Chatfield’s hiring was met with heavy criticism from local government officials, and various non-profit groups.

Andy Robins / WMUK

Kalamazoo is cutting its ties to Southwest Michigan First. City commissioners pulled out of the regional economic development agency on Monday February 15.

Courtesy photo | GreenHouse Productions, LLC

An initiative designed to increase prosperity in Kalamazoo returns for the second year. The Kalamazoo Black Business Expo will be held Aug. 24. It will showcase 60 African-American entrepreneurs, up from 40 last year.  The city of Kalamazoo once again is a lead sponsor and four others have signed on, including the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and two banks.


Earlene McMichael | WMUK

Increasing entrepreneurship could help reduce the high rate of poverty in the city of Kalamazoo, according to Neighborhood Business Coordinator Dwayne Powell Jr. He says that's why the city agreed to be a partner with the inaugural Kalamazoo Black Business Expo being held from 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. 


Earlene McMichael / WMUK

It was a time of plant closings and corporate downsizing when Southwest Michigan First formed in 1999 in Kalamazoo. SWMF CEO Ron Kitchens says the 14 business leaders who dreamed up the group wanted it to keep existing employers here and, draw new ones to the region. The organization has been successful in doing that, Kitchens tells WMUK's Earlene McMichael on today's WestSouthwest public-affairs show. In the last five years alone, Southwest Michigan has seen a net gain of about 37,000 jobs, and he says his group's efforts are one of the contributing factors in job growth.


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