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Battle Creek entrepreneur to redevelop 32 W. Michigan

Tara Hampton, an entrepreneur with a track record of getting things done, has taken on the redevelopment of 32 West Michigan property in downtown Battle Creek. Locals know it as 28 W. Michigan Ave.

Hampton has acquired the property with plans to give it a $1.3 million renovation. The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

When completed, the building will be the new location for the Battle Creek Community Foundation, the primary anchor for the building. The Battle Creek Community Foundation will occupy 8,900 square feet, a portion of the first floor and the entire second floor.

“The Battle Creek Community Foundation has outgrown its current location at Riverwalk Centre,” says Brenda Hunt, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “This development provides an opportunity for us to construct an environment that provides optimum interaction among our staff and guests."

There also will be four or five office or retail spaces. These spaces could range in size from 333 to 1,340 square feet.

As the Battle Creek Community Foundation leaves the Riverwalk Centre there will be an opportunity for organizations that are the right size for the suites in that building and which have collaborative energy, says Hunt.   

“I’m proud to be part of a catalytic example for downtown development by demonstrating how partnerships can work successfully between public and private entities,” says Hampton.

Battle Creek Unlimited acquired the building in 2009 as part of the Downtown Transformation Initiative and listed the property for sale in November 2011 through the Building Momentum program.  This program offered several downtown buildings for the cost of title transfer in exchange for development projects demonstrating the ability to provide substantial economic impact downtown.

Source: Alyssa Jones, Battle Creek Unlimited

Business builds for sweet and savory Crepes by the Lakes

Sometimes all the stars align and a business comes together as if it were meant to be. It was like that for the owners of Crepes by the Lakes.

The food cart that makes sweet and savory crepes using fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients can be found in a number of locations around Kalamazoo.

Owners Danielle Barney and Stephanie Lenhart were in the Washington D.C. area when they decided to come back to the Midwest where the lifestyle was more affordable. Barney was from Battle Creek, so it was easy for the two of them to settle in Kalamazoo.

"Everyone was so supportive," says Lenhart. "We liked the culture and that we could purchase a house here." They bought a Queen Victorian home in the Stuart Neighborhood that they are bringing back into a single family home from one used for rentals.

The food cart debuted at the Bank Street Farmers Market in Kalamazoo in mid-May. Lenhart says she had been working in the deli at People's Food Co-op and Barney was working in the deli at Irving's Market on the Kalamazoo Mall. Lenhart previously gotten a degree in business and then attended culinary school and Barney has been working in kitchens from the age of 16.

The two knew they wanted to do a food business together in Kalamazoo and when the City of Kalamazoo passed its ordinance allowing food trucks they were very excited about the possibilities that had just opened up for them. Still they were not certain in which direction to go.

Lenhart talked to her family about it and they recommended crepes. Lenhart lived in Paris the first five years of her life and her mother has always made the thin pancakes associated with France. "They've been a huge part of my upbringing," Lenhart says.

Barney, not knowing that Lenhart was leaning toward creating and selling crepes, meanwhile had located a crepe cart on e-Bay. "She was already on it," Lenhart says. A couple in Florida had previously used the cart in the early years of their business before they moved into a brick and mortar location. They had decided to get out of the restaurant business altogether and their custom-made cart was for sale. The 8-year-old cart is custom made because at the time the couple decided to go into the business of selling crepes by cart no one was making the carts. It had to be specially built for them. The result is that Lenhart and Barney obtained a cart that met all their needs. They flew down to Florida to and returned with their food cart.

They got all the necessary approvals and started selling crepes. (The food cart meets the same requirements as a food truck, but has more limitations as it can be open to the weather, more of a concern in Michigan than it is in Florida.) They have a spot on the Kalamazoo Mall where they sell crepes on Tuesday and Thursdays. They are in Bronson Park for Lunchtime Live on Fridays, at 100 Mile Market at People's Food Co-op on Wednesdays and at the Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. They also have been asked to be part of the Taste of Kalamazoo this year, July 24-26.

Because they strive for locally sourced ingredients for their sweet and savory crepes their menu changes with the season. Everything is made from scratch. Some local favorites are the Philly Cheese crepe; the huevo ranchero crepe; the creprese with mozzarella, basil and greens.

Basics are on the menu, too, such as ham and cheese and turkey and cheese. Sweet crepes offerings include sugar and cinnamon, blueberry and nutella; blueberry and marscapone with almonds on top; ;apples with candied pecans and a special caramel sauce created by Cherri Emery of Cherri's Chocol'art. She also is creating a special habanero chocolate sauce that will work with crepes.

"We are having fun with it," Lenhart says. "Now that we have the technique down and have gotten used to working side-by-side it's getting really fun."

Source: ?Stephanie Lenhart, Crepes by the Lakes

Water Street to open new joint with sunroom in Portage

Renovation work is under way for Water Street Coffee Joint's newest location. The newest coffee shop will be at 245 W. Centre St., Suite B, in the Portage Centre Plaza in Portage.

Water Street is remodeling an existing building that it is leasing to suit its needs, says Jessica Del Vacchio, of Water Street Coffee Joint. The new coffee shop will be about 1,800 square feet and have many of the features Water Street customers have come to appreciate at its other locations.

Customers will find a full-service coffee bar, deli sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts, flowers, retail shirts and mugs, and bagged coffee and tea as they do in other locations.  

The new coffee shop also will have a number of new features, including a drive through window and a sun room. The glassed in area also will feature a fireplace.

There also will be a lofted seating and a drop-down seating area. Custom steel fabricated in Kalamazoo by Lee Custom Iron is being made for the loft area.

Another feature will be a slow bar for coffees that are brewed by the cup. The pour-over coffees that have been offered from time-to-time at Water Street's other shops will be a regular feature at the Portage location and a special spot will be set aside for it, says Del Vacchio.

It is expected about 25 employees will be needed for the new shop.

Work on the new coffee shop is expected to be completed in late 2014.

For those who have lost count, the new location brings the number of Water Street places of business to six. All the others have Kalamazoo addresses: Downtown Kalamazoo 315 East Water Street, Oakland 3037 Oakland Drive, Borgess (Inside Atrium) 1521 Gull Road; Water Street Kitchen 6938 Elm Valley Drive; and the Water Street Coffee Roaster 610 West Willard Street.

Source: Jessica Del Vacchio, Water Street Coffee Joint

Awww...Binder Park Zoo introduces newest baby animals

Here at Second Wave we cover what's new and what's next--usually new businesses, new ideas that are making the community a better place to live, new innovations that are changing the way work gets done. Today we take a short break from that to cover what's new in the animal world. Specifically, the too cute new babies at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek.

The cutest of the bunch has to be a baby black mangabey monkey, named Chekelea (smile in Swahili), born May 1 to Sunniva. The birth of the baby brings the troop of black mangabey monkeys to four. Mangabeys are some of the rarest monkey species in the world.

Two new baby giraffes born this summer also are being exhibited for the first time at the zoo. Kitovu, a female baby, born June 12 and Hulka, a male giraffe born June 16 can both be seen at the zoo's Wild Africa exhibit. Kitovu (belly button in Swahili) weighed 104.5 pounds when she was born and she is the second calf for her mother, Kayin. Hulka (meaning nature) was 159 pounds at birth, the largest of the giraffe calves born at Binder Park Zoo.

By design, in the first 10 years of the Wild Africa exhibit there were no giraffes born at the zoo. The first baby giraffe was born there in 2009. Binder Park Zoo was holding two male giraffes from the Columbus Zoo and they went back to Columbus in 2013, so the zoo did more planned breeding of its giraffe group. Ideally, the zoo can accommodate a maximum of nine to 10 giraffes. With the new babies it now has eight.

The new male baby giraffe and his mother, Makena, are owned by the Columbus Zoo through a breeding loan agreement. The young female, who cannot breed with her father, may be kept for exhibit or may be traded to another zoo for an unrelated female.

"It can get very complicated and there is a lot of science behind who breeds with who," says the zoo's director of Conservation and Wildlife Management. "We try to do what is best for the species and the individual animals."

The baby giraffes are not yet tall enough to be take lettuce from the hands of zoo visitors on the feeding platform as their parents are.

Rounding out the cuteness collection are two guinea hogs now on exhibit in Wild Africa. Twiglet and Rosebud--are one-year-olds from the Scovill Zoo in Illinois. Their species originates from the country of Guinea, in western Africa, and is now found in many parts of the world as a domestic breed.

Binder Park Zoo is located outside of Battle Creek, Michigan on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands. In the past 38 years, the Zoo has grown to be one of the leading cultural attractions in the region.

Source: Kari Parker, Binder Park Zoo

New initiative in place to revitalize downtown Battle Creek

Prospective retailers who want to locate in downtown Battle Creek have a new tool to get them up on their feet.

Battle Creek Unlimited has launched the Battle Creek Downtown Partnership and asked it to reinvigorate the downtown. The first tool it has been given is a new Retail Acceleration Program, designed to reduce the downtown's 35 percent retail vacancy rate.

The program will help fledgling retailers with assistance paying their rent. In return, they must participate in training and mentoring, and maintaining specific hours. They also must complete a business plan, as businesses that have plans are most likely to succeed.

“The planning process will help them discover what is required to meet their sales goals, and whether those goals are attainable,” says John Schmitt, consultant with the SBDC.

Each participant will work with an existing downtown business owner who will act as a mentor, helping them navigate the early years of operation after they have opened their doors.

Battle Creek Downtown Partnership also is working with the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce to provide ongoing training for the participants.

With the announcement of the program, applications are now being accepted, says Rob Petersen, Downtown Development Director for Battle Creek Unlimited. Meetings are already under way with those who have expressed an interest. There is funding to support three or four businesses over the next 12 months.

The program is designed to encourage retailers who will bring something new to downtown--unique, hard-to-find and one-of-a-kind items. Petersen says that downtown's succeed when they attract businesses that sell unique or unusual items that people like to touch and feel before they purchase them, which they cannot do if they are buying online. "We still like to engage all five senses," Petersen says.

To bring back the downtown will take some redevelopment of spaces that currently is not move-in ready for retailers.

Petersen says the former J.C. Penny property is a good example. The building is about 15,000 square feet and most retailers need only about 1,200 to 1,500 square feet. With an anchor tenant and a number of smaller retailers the property could be brought back into the retail mix.

“Our goal is to see downtown Battle Creek grow,” says Team Active owner Mike Wood, who participated in the planning process for the program.

“Retail is the psychological barometer of a downtown’s health,” says Peterson. “There can be great things happening all around, but if the storefronts are empty, people perceive downtown is not doing well.”

Source: Rob Peterson, Battle Creek Unlimite

A party's on tap at Tapistry to celebrate anniversary

The past 12 months have been exciting for the folks at Tapistry Brewing Company. And now, following a year of hard work, it’s time to celebrate.

On Saturday, July 19 the brewery, at 4236 Lake Street in Bridgeman celebrates its one year anniversary with live music, food, prizes and plenty of limited edition and barrel aged beer.

"The party really is a thank you. It’s a thank you to the community, to all the patrons that we’ve had this past year, and to all the people that aren’t familiar with us to check out all the beers we’ll have that day," says Greg Korson, co-owner of Tapistry Brewing Company.

The beers on tap will be headlined by four barrel aged offerings including Kilting Me Softly, a scotch ale that has been aging in bourbon barrels provided by Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks; a Sour Blond, the first of its kind created at Tapistry; an IPA; and Eilmer, a Belgian style Triple housed in gin barrels.

"This is our first time ever using  gin barrel. It's going to be a little bit of a surprise to us in how it’s going to come out; we’re trying to have a little bit of fun with these," Korson says.

All of the beers offered during the party, including a couple of one-off brews that will be served only at the party, are in essence a microcosm of what Tapistry Brewing is all about--finding unique ways to offer both traditional and contemporary beer styles.

"Every brewery is going to have their own niche, everybody is going to have their thing, and a big part of our thing is making beers that people enjoy but at the same time exposing them to all these different styles of beer, maybe offering something they wouldn’t be able to find unless they traveled all over the world," Korson says.

Bringing the many beers of the world to Southwest Michigan was a primary goal of Tapistry right from the beginning, but as it turns out, the brewery is also bringing brewers from around the world to the area as well.

Tapistry, which had to say goodbye to one of its assistant brewers earlier in the year has recently welcomed Philip Zanello to the team. Zanello, a native of Brazil, brings a  different understanding and new mindset to the table when it comes to brewing Tapistry’s beers.

Zanello also is a graduate of Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology, the country’s oldest brewing school. "He is very proficient in home brewing from his time in Brazil," says Korson. "It’s good to have a little bit of new perspectives. We’re extremely pleased to have him on board now."

With its brewing team now securely in place Tapistry is ready celebrate its one year anniversary and then plans to move forward and continue experimenting with both and new beer styles.

"It’s been exciting. It’s been challenging, sometimes nerve wracking. Up to this point, I’ve lost count, but we’ve come close to 40 different beers that we’ve produced already. We’ve had the opportunity to be very creative," Korson says.

Writer: Jeremy Martin, Second Wave Media
Source: Greg Korson, Tapistry Brewing Company

Lost Raven open for business in Plainwell

What Michigan has to offer is on display in a big way at the recently opened restaurant The Lost Raven, 200 E. Bridge Street, in Plainwell.

"The idea was to bring to the area a Michigan-centric gastro pub," says Scott Campbell who along with his partner in business and life Rebecca Stephens have remade the former site of the London Grill in Plainwell.

In Europe the Public Houses were houses that actually were opened to the public. The warmth that comes from that kind of hospitality is what Stephens and Campbell wanted for The Lost Raven. 

"Our food is made from scratch," Campbell says. This time of year, when local produce is plentiful, the food is 90 percent from Michigan. At the bar the spirits, beers, and wines are 100 percent from the Great Lakes State.

Response during the first two weeks of business at the new restaurant has been "absolutely outstanding," Campbell says. (With good reason. On a recent visit the food and service lived up to the high standards the couple has set. Or to put it another way, the pulled pork was amazing.)

The minor problems that arise any time a new restaurant opens have been addressed and now the restaurant has the feel of an established business, Campbell says.

Business has been good enough to allow additional hiring and The Lost Raven staff now boasts 25 to 30 employees.

Getting to opening day, June 25, was a long process. The restaurant had stood empty for about two years and there was a great deal of work to be done remodeling and updating it. 

With 25 years of history in the restaurant, the couple did not want to totally gut it, but there were floors to be replaced and the basic decor needed to be freshened up. "I did all of it with my own two hands," and with Rebecca's support, Campbell says.  "She might not have been swinging a hammer, but she was always helping out with something. The two of us are really great partners in life and business. This could not have happened without her."

Now the two are managing two restaurants, something that Campbell has done before. "The key to running multiple restaurants is the kind of family you build around you."

He also says that either he or Stephens is usually at one or the other of the restaurants keeping an eye on how things are going. 

Campbell owns Eleven & Co., named for the balance represented in the number 11, balance being a state most people are seeking these days. He has many years experience at the head of a number of successful restaurants and together he and Stephens turned around the London Grill in downtown Kalamazoo. (They manage the properties owned by Tom Huff.) 

The kind of deep thinking that leads one to name a business after the search for balance is also seen in the naming of The Lost Raven. Campbell says public houses often used animals on their signs and the raven is a strong image; whether it be Edgar Allen Poe's reference to the raven or the birds who were Norse god Odin's helpers, the raven is memorable. 

The raven also is one of the animals man has chased from the area, Campbell says. Think of it this way: Once people fed themselves from food they grew themselves, then big businesses and farms replaced locally grown food, and now demand for local food is back. 

"All good things come back again," Campbell says. "We're bringing the raven back."

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Scott Campbell, Eleven & Co.

Tea Leaf sets up shop in downtown Battle Creek

Early retirement was not working for Christy Wonderly. "I really wanted a job I loved," Wonderly says. As she pondered her options her daughter suggested she think of the two things she liked the most: tea and talking to others.

That idea for the Tea Leaf, where "happiness is a cup away," has grown into a full-fledged business for Wonderly. She now shares space with other businesses on the first floor of the Ermish Travel Building, 26 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Battle Creek.

Today, Wonderly and her daughter, Jessica Lazarus, run the tea shop. More employees are expected soon as Lazarus moves to another full-time job. 

The business got its start at the Springfield Market and recently moved to downtown where the landlords, the Breitbachs, have welcomed 13 fledgling businesses in the three-story building. Wonderly says she appreciates how welcome she has been made to feel and the mentorship in such areas as advertising and similar assistance the Breitbachs have offered. 

As you walk in the door of the Tea Leaf, you will see a tea bar complete with a wide variety of organic, fair trade teas. Wonderly says she is really excited to be working with the local nonprofit Urban Sprout Farms to develop her own blend made from Michigan grown tea and herbs. Rose petals and mints will be part of the blend coming soon.

Because she shares space with others, the actual square footage of her business is small, so the business is largely takeout right now. She is looking forward to creating outside seating for her customers soon.

She points out that although some local retailers offer tea, none carry the high quality brands she does. The teas she carries also are for sale on her website. 

So far, Battle Creek tea drinkers have shown a preference for Masala Chai, Moroccan Mint, Cherry Bomb and green teas, Wonderly says. These top sellers are the ones she brews early in the day and keeps chilled all day long. "They're ready to go," Wonderly says.

The former teacher got her love of tea from her mother, a Bradford from Boston. Beyond that, teas have many health benefits that Wonderly loves to share with others. 

"I really like both ends of the business," Wonderly says.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Christy Wonderly, Tea Leaf


WKW Roof Rail Systems to add 185 new jobs

WKW Roof Rail Systems, an automotive parts manufacturer that makes aluminum rails for car roofs, is bringing 185 jobs to Battle Creek.

The company plans to purchase the former Toyota Tsusho America facility in the Fort Custer Industrial Park, an investment of up to $23 million.

WKW automotive CEO Peter Kruft says that with the company's successful acquisition of  Bowers Manufacturing Company in Portage the management team realized a need to expand production.

"As we intend to build-up the extrusion business in North America in the same way we serve the European market, we need more space for anodizing and assembly of roof rail systems,” says Kruft.  

WKW Roof Rail Systems, LLC, is a newly formed subsidiary of WKW Erbsloeh North America, Inc. It is a subsidiary of WKW automotive located in Wuppertal, Germany. The company currently has a sales office in Troy and a manufacturing facility in Portage.

“WKW is an exceptional, global company, and we are thrilled to have them select the City of Battle Creek for their new location and future expansion,” says Battle Creek Unlimited President and CEO Karl Dehn.

Michigan was chosen over a competing site in Alabama and one other State.

As a result of WKW's investment, it received a $950,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. A request will be made to the City of Battle Creek for property tax abatement and two acres of land for future expansion.  

The new business is one of a string of successes for Battle Creek, with 15 new companies or expansions announced in the last 18 months.

Source: Peter Kruf, WKW automotive

Cravings Bistro & Pub now offers craft beer in Benton Harbor

For folks in Benton Harbor, locally produced craft beer just got a little easier to find thanks to Cravings Bistro and Pub and its new brewer Pat Glenn.

Cravings, located at 1599 Mall drive was opened in 2012 and touts a menu featuring "a little bit of everything."

Glenn, who has been homebrewing since 1997 recently teamed up with Cravings owner Eduardo Pesantez to bring several of Glen’s recipes to the restaurant.

“I gave him a challenge, ‘you go get a license and I’ll brew your beer.’ He went and got the license so here we are,” Glenn says.

The two have been friends for a several years with Glenn giving Pesantez samples of his work on a number of occasions, but Glenn never thought his handiwork would go public  until Pesantez opened Cravings and wanted a local brew option on tap.

“I hadn’t really planned on it, but a lot of people had talked to me about it. I had always been in the position that you turn a hobby into a job and all of a sudden it’s a job,” Glenn says. "With Cravings I’m still working on small batches, I have creative control. We’re just going to see how it grows, I really don’t have a vision for taking over the world.”

What the brewer does have a vision for having high-quality beers on tap year-round at Cravings. His first round of brews debuted June 12 as a large crowd turned out to sample six draught offerings.

Glenn intends to keep six or seven beers on tap at any given time with four or so as mainstays and the others being rotating or experimental offerings.

“The red ale and wheat ale are both going to be very popular,” Glenn says.

Besides the red and wheat, Glenn also served up an IPA, a cream ale, a black IPA and a porter with a stout being added to draught in the very near future.

For now Glenn is using the same one barrel system that he previously used for homebrewing and plans to be at Cravings once a week making up to 25 gallons of beer per session.

Fans of Cravings and Glenn’s beer can also join the mug club where a $50 buy in gets you a T-shirt, a credit card style bottle opener and 20 oz. pours for the regular 16 oz. price.

Glenn intends to take inspiration from the restaurant’s menu when brewing new beers and also hopes to team up with Pesantez to offer special beer and food pairings.

“He’s very talented in bringing flavors together and thinking out how things are going to mix, I’m excited about brewing with his influence,” Glenn says. "Once we figure out how things are going to go, we want to do a beer pairing menu where I brew some beers and he builds some dishes around those."

For more information on Glenn’s beer and Cravings Bistro and Pub visit here.  

Source: Patrick Glenn, Cravings Bistro and Pub  
 

Ramona Bells Pizzeria serves pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and more

For more than 13 years Brad Hurlbutt was working for others in the food industry, including experience at  Saylor's Pizza in Niles, Dowagiac, and Watervliet.

During the past seven or eight years, the desire to run his own pizzeria grew in Hurlbutt. He decided that to reach his potential he should make the move to open his own restaurant.

"It was time to bite the bullet or find out what I was going to do with the rest of my life," Hurlbutt says.

Ramona Bells Pizzeria, named for Hurlbutt's daughter, opened its doors at the end of May and celebrated its grand opening June 16.

Pizza, pasta, and sandwiches for takeout and delivery all are on on the menu. Hurlbutt says customers are showing a preference for the Chicken Ranch Pizza and the Philly Cheese Steak Pizza and sandwich. Other customer favorites are the French Dip and Italian Beef.

The business will start out with carry-out and delivery and grow into a full-service restaurant as business demands. Hurlbutt says that with 20 to 30 minutes notice at lunchtime, a pizza or sandwich can be delivered. He serves the St. Joseph, Benton Harbor and Stevensville area.

Hurlbutt turned to the Women's Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance for help in getting the business open.

“Brad was determined to make Ramona Bells a success," says Dubelsa Mata-Garcia, Business Developer at WBC. "Because of his strong background in the foodservice industry, he understood the challenges that opening a restaurant can pose.  It is always rewarding to work with clients who are able to transform their aspirations into a business."

Ramona Bells at 2809 Niles Ave., in St. Joseph, is open 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 10:30 am to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and closed on Sundays. For more information about Ramona Bells Pizzeria, call (269) 982.7777.

Sources: Brad Hurlbutt, Ramona Bells Pizzeria; Susan Cox, Cornerstone Alliance

Marrone Bio gets financial boost for Bangor plant

Marrone Bio Innovations is retrofitting its property in Bangor and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan program just made that easier.

The Davis, Calif.-based company that broke ground in Van Buren County in August 2012 at the former biodiesel manufacturing plant site has been guaranteed $10 million in financing on a $32 million project. The company is undertaking the first phase of retrofitting the plant.

Phase one is expected to cost $15 million, says James Boyd, CFO of Marrone Bio Innovations. The funds will go toward equipping and expanding the 11,000-square-foot manufacturing facilty that sits on 11 acres.

The company currently employs 20 people in Bangor and plans call for adding 20 to 30 employees over the next several years.

At the Bangor facility, Marrone Bio will manufacture a broad-spectrum bioinsecticide for controlling insects and mites and the first naturally derived product for the control of invasive zebra and quagga mussels, which have invaded freshwater lakes and rivers throughout Michigan.

"We chose to come to Southwest Michigan after (U.S. Senator) Debbie Stabenow told us about the opportunities there," Boyd says. "We found it was a good location and it had a good employee base. We decided to proceed and retrofit the plant."

The U.S.D.A. program does not grant loans directly, rather it works with existing private credit providers to guarantee loans that fund enterprises, which program administrators believe can provide long term benefits to communities. Funding is intended to support the development and growth of businesses and employment in rural communities and support improvements in the economic and environmental climate in those areas.

Source: James B. Boyd, Marrone Bio Innovations

Kalamazoo River Valley Trail to grow by 5 more miles

About 80 people recently turned out to celebrate the groundbreaking for construction of what will be the next 5 miles of Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, the popular trailway that was used 180,000 times last year.

This five-mile addition will be constructed from River Street in Comstock to 35th St. in Galesburg, ending along the Kalamazoo River near Battle Creek Street. The paved-asphalt trail will follow along M-96 from River Street and cut through River Oaks County Park.

Kalamazoo County Parks Director Dave Rachowicz says the extension will connect the trail to River Oaks County Park where a splash pad and new playground are going in this summer.

The new portion of the trail will connect different parts of the community and offer expanded options for recreation, transportation, health, and fitness. 

Construction begins this month, in June 2104, and be completed in late September. The cost of the new piece of trail is $1.447 million.

There now are 17 completed miles of paved-asphalt trail for non-motorized use. There will be 22 miles open for public use by this fall.  

The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail begins at 10th Street, connecting the Kal-Haven Trail into downtown Kalamazoo. From downtown, the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail also stretches north, passing though Verburg Park, along Markin Glen Park and the Kalamazoo Nature Center, before ending at D Avenue near the Kalamazoo River. The eastern leg of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail passes through Mayors’ Riverfront Park and connects to Comstock Township.

Source: Kyle Lewis, Kalamazoo River Valley Trail

Southwest Michigan's Second Wave takes summer siesta

As summer hits its peak and the holiday approaches it’s time for a two-week break for us.

Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave will not publish the weeks of June 23 and June 30, though there will be Facebook and Twitter updates throughout the hiatus.
 
In the digital publication business we call these dark weeks. We are hoping the sun shines enough to dispell any darkness. Lawn work, visits to Lake Michigan, and a festival or two are on the To-Do List. 
 
We will return July 10 with new stories and pictures.

United Federal Credit Union breaks ground in St. Joseph

United Federal Credit Union broke ground June 13 on a new branch on the corner of South State Street and Midway in St. Joseph, Michigan. The existing branch will be replaced by a new building. It will go on the same property and the corporate headquarters will be expanded and improved to house UFCU’s growing workforce.

The two-story, 9,600 square-foot branch will house 25 employees and cost approximately $3 million. The building project is expected to be completed in February 2015.

The groundbreaking was expected to draw a number of local officials and include comments from United Federal Credit Union President and CEO Gary Easterling, Director and Chairman of the Board at United Federal Credit Union J.B. Hoyt and officials from Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce.

The Redmond Company of Waukesha, Wisconsin will manage the construction project.

The credit union also opened in the fall of 2013 a new, state-of-the-art employee training center in St. Joseph. It took an unused, former branch location and invested $750,000 to create the newly renovated educational facility, which held its first training class on Sept. 9.

United Federal Credit Union has served members since 1949 and has more than 120,000 members worldwide. It manages assets in excess of $1.57 billion. In addition to its nine branches in southwest Michigan, UFCU serves members through locations in Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio.

Source; Sandie Lieberg, United Federal Credit Union
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