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Seven Generations names new director of architecture

Steven VandenBussche is the new director of architecture for Seven Generations Architecture & Engineering in Kalamazoo. VandenBussche will manage the day-to-day operations of the firm’s architectural practice from the firm’s office in Kalamazoo.

He also will collaborate with team members in support of the firm's strategic business direction in planning, design, and construction services for its growing healthcare, federal and tribal practices. There will be  an emphasis on regional medical facilities, Indian Health Services, Department of Defense and Veteran’s Affairs.

Prior to joining Seven Generations, VandenBussche was the discipline leader/senior designer at C2AE in Kalamazoo. His support for the buildings group team there included various design tasks, programming workshops and developing schematic design concepts. By detailing and research and development, he assisted staff in taking concepts to realization.   

He also was responsible for assessing and developing the firm’s capability and capacity in the architectural discipline through training and mentoring of professional staff. Prior to that, VandenBussche was the director of design at Wightman & Associates and a project manager at Diekema Hamann Architecture & Engineering where he used the latest tools in technology to assist in communicating and visualizing client’s desires.

VandenBussche is a licensed architect and a LEED accredited professional. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and Master of Architecture from the University of Michigan.

Jeremy Berg, managing director at Seven Generations, says their search showed VandenBussche to be the right person to serve as our new architecture lead. "He has 18 years of experience in providing high-level design and professional services to a wide range of clients including those in the K-12, higher education, nonprofit, and commercial sectors. This, coupled with his 10 years of expertise designing and managing various healthcare facility projects, will provide great value to Seven Generations and our clients."

Seven Generations Architecture & Engineering, LLC, was founded in 2012 and is wholly owned by Mno-Bmadsen, the economic development enterprise chartered by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi to establish and grow for-profit business for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians with a focus on long-term sustainability in all endeavors.

Source: Seven Generations Architecture & Engineering

Advia Credit Union names new financial advisor

Jerry Johnson is the new financial advisor for Advia Credit Union. Advia's member base has been growing and Johnson has been hired to help meet their needs.

Johnson has more than 25 years of financial services experience. He has been in mortgage lending, credit union member services, and given financial advice.

Johnson will assist credit union members with their individual financial goals at branches located in Comstock, Parchment, Springfield, Battle Creek, Mattawan, Kalamazoo, and Portage. Initial consultations are offered at no cost to members and include insurance planning, 401(k) planning, retirement planning, estate conservation, investment planning, business planning, and education funding.

He is a native of Tampa, Fla.,  and he and his wife Theresa recently moved to Battle Creek to be closer to their grandchildren.

"We can help with a specific need, such as investing retirement money, or we can provide comprehensive wealth management services, covering all aspects of our members' financial lives," Johnson says.

Advia  has four other financial advisors in Kalamazoo, Southgate, Port Huron, and Janesville, Wisc. 

Source: Advia Credit Union

AVB hires two new employees

AVB Construction recently hired Evan Mann as Senior Project Engineer and Jennifer O’Neill as a New Home Sales Consultant.

Mann will coordinate all necessary documents and communications for all commercial projects for AVB.  He previously worked at Wolverine Construction Group, first as a Carpenter and then as an Assistant Project Manager, developing the construction background he will need for his post at AVB.

He has worked on commercial projects for AV, drawing on his experience in construction and project management. He earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Construction Management, as well as his Associates of Arts in General Business, from Western Michigan University.

O'Neill will  assist clients as they purchase, build, and customize a new home. She will help clients in the sales and selections process at AVB's Oakland Hills and Bridgeview at Angels Crossing communities.  She has extensive experience in client relations as they relate to residential construction and design.

She appeared for nearly two years on the HGTV show called “Treasure Makers” that was in syndication until 2008 and featured projects that repurposed architectural salvage pieces into new, functional home decor pieces. She also is proficient in programs such as AutoCAD.

O'Neill earned her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design with a minor in Building Construction Management at Michigan State University.

Source: AVB Construction


Perrigo Co. hires distribution supervisor, and analyst

Steven Morris is the new Distribution Supervisor at Perrigo Co.'s Logistics Center and Jada Neal has been hired as Sales and Operations Planning Analyst, both working in Allegan.

Morris became experienced in supervisory and logistics roles through his 17-year service to the United States Army. He has been assigned many duty positions and been deployed on multiple occasions. Morris currently serves in the Michigan National Guard as a military police officer.

Morris earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Scranton and is currently pursuing his Master of Science degree from Davenport University. He is from Philadelphia and now lives in Plainwell.

Neal is responsible for developing forecasts to help make production, material supply and capacity planning decisions that will support the monthly sales and operations planning processes.

Neal previously worked at Perrigo as a scheduling and production intern. After her graduation from the University of Dayton with a double major in marketing and operations and supply chain management, Jada worked for a year as a corporate demand analyst in the packaging industry before returning to Perrigo.

She is from Kalamazoo and currently lives there.

Perrigo Co. is a top five global over-the-counter consumer goods and pharmaceutical company.

Source: Perrigo Co.

WMU prepares to proceed with second phase of BTR park

Western Michigan University anticipates construction of infrastructure--roads, sewers and drainage--for Colony Farms Orchard will begin in September 2016.

Before then the public will have at least three chances to offer its preferences regarding the project. The Colony Farm Orchard property, 44 acres at the northwest corner of Drake Road and Parkview Avenue, adjacent to U.S. 131, is to be the site of an expansion of WMU's Business Technology and Research Park.

The existing BTR park has no further room for development.

WMU is now seeking design proposals from architectural engineering firms demonstrating their qualifications for undertaking the process. The university's goal is to have hired a firm by Oct. 15.

Bob Miller, associate vice president for community outreach and point person on the BTR Park says in addition to design prowess, one of the major qualifications the University is seeking for the project is that its team be experienced in working with the public through public presentations or design charrettes (a collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem).

A number of steps in the design and development phase are already in the planning stages.

The steps include:

• Selection by the end of September of a project advisory committee to work with the selected firm. The committee will be made up of community members, WMU faculty, staff, and students.

• A minimum of three public input sessions. They begin in November as the design process gets underway. There will be a second in January to view the work's direction and a meeting in April to see final designs before construction documents are drawn up.   

• Construction is slated to begin in September 2016.

• Completion of Phase II infrastructure construction by June 2017, with parcels available for development by private-sector partners immediately thereafter.

Those interested in the development of  the Colony Farms Orchard property will have a number of opportunities to make their views known, provide feedback, and have their questions answered, Miller says.

Source: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University

Little space becomes Little Park for Rickman House residents

Tucked in the space that used to be the location of Sarkozy Bakery, next to the Rickman House, is a new park for the residents of the low-income housing facility.

The land for Little Park was purchased with a donation William T. "Ted" and Francis Little, longtime supporters of the Rickman House. Housing at the Rickman is offered through Housing Resources Inc. 

The facility has 49 efficiency apartments with kitchenettes and baths. The units are rented to those who earn at or below 60 percent of Kalamazoo's Area Median Income (about $27,500).

The building, constructed in 1907, housed various hotels until 1960 when it was converted to housing. Today, residents are age 50 or older and have mental disabilities. It offers on-site management, community space, meeting or activity rooms, a computer center, and on-site rehabilitation.

Rickman House staff members, along with other agencies, offer mental health and substance abuse services and independent living training. Residents have access to on-site supportive services such as case management, support groups, emergency assistance, financial literacy classes, employment assistance and computer training.

The new park offers a place of rest and renewal for the residents of a historic building in downtown Kalamazoo.

The Littles took part in a dedication ceremony on July 13. The event included state and local dignitaries. State Rep. Jon Hoadley presented a special tribute to the Littles from the State of Michigan and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder and State Sen. Margaret O’Brien. Also on hand were County Commissioner Stephanie Moore and Lynn Turner, community and media liaison for Congressman Fred Upton.

“The Littles approached HRI with an amazing offer to make a donation so we could purchase the lot and turn it into a safe, relaxing outdoor space to benefit our residents,” says Michelle Davis, executive director of HRI. “It’s one of the most thoughtful and generous gifts we’ve ever received.”

Source: Housing Resources Inc.

Matt Morgan is new CFO for First National Bank of Michigan

Matt Morgan has been named Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of First National Bank of Michigan.

He joined First National Bank of Michigan in 2013 and became a Vice President in 2014. He was given the added responsibilities of Treasurer and Secretary for the bank's board  and the holding company, First National Bancorp, Inc. in 2015.

Morgan will keep those responsibilities as well as those of his new role.

Morgan is a 2005 graduate of Western Michigan University with a master’s of science in accountancy. His volunteer efforts include serving as a member of the Planning Commission for the City of Parchment, as board president of the Cooper Valley Condominium Association, and as a board member for First Care Childcare Center in Kalamazoo.
First National Bank of Michigan is a locally owned bank with locations in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Portage.

"Since joining the bank, Matt has met every challenge with confidence and competence—he is an integral part of our team," says Larry Lueth, President and CEO.

Source: First National Bank of Michigan

St. Joseph gets new winery on State Street

Cousins Lauren Kniebes and Melanie Owen developed a taste for wine at a young age, fostered by their grandmother, Juanita Kniebes. She gave them sips of her homemade Concord wine that sparked their interest. And growing up next to their family's vineyards, they were also educated early on about grapes and viticulture.

As they grew older, they worked together at Contessa Wine Cellars in Coloma and became avid wine lovers. They have been working in the Lake Michigan shore wine industry for the past seven years.

The cousins decided to pursue their dream in the winter of 2015 by starting their own wine venture. With a successful Kickstarter campaign, they now are the owners of the Lazy Ballerina Winery, 315 State Street, St. Joseph. A grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting for the new business is set for Aug. 6.  

They were encouraged to establish their own winery as Southwest Michigan grew to become the heart of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail and is now home to more than 15 local wineries.

Lazy Ballerina Winery and tasting room are open every day in downtown St. Joseph and features 12 different wine selections, including a non-alcoholic sparkling juice.

Shoppers will also find a variety of fresh food options such as cheese plates, homemade hummus, wraps, and gourmet salads. The tasting room offers a fun, decorative, and spacious setting with comfortable seating where guests can enjoy wine tasting, wine by the glass, flights, and food, the owners say.

Source: Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce

Glen Oaks welcomes director of business outreach

Paul Alvars is the new director of business outreach and services at Glen Oaks Community College.

He began in the post June 15 and will be responsible for working with businesses to create training programs.

Aivars previously was a training manager at Kellogg Community College and worked as a senior organizational development professional at MPI Research in Mattawan. He also worked as the assistant director of training and development for 18 years at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. He has worked in business services in the region for more than 30 years.

He is native of Kalamazoo and has a bachelor’s in distributive education from Western Michigan University and a master’s in organizational management from Spring Arbor University.

Aivars is a member of the American Society for Quality and the American Training and Development Association.

He and his wife live in Portage and have two grown children. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing and golf.

“With the upturn in the economy, the timing is right to work with our business partners to create customized training programs to meet their needs,” Alvars says.

Source: Glen Oaks Community College

Two businesses receive design services in Three Rivers

When a community becomes part of the Michigan Main Street project design assistance for those seeking it is part of the package.

Two projects in Three Rivers have now been awarded design assistance through the program.  

One of those is John Wolgamood, owner of 32 N. Main Street in Downtown Three Rivers. He received an on-site consultation with Michigan Main Street Design Specialist Debra Johnson, as well as a written report with proposed facade drawings, paint samples, historic photos, a maintenance schedule, and other resources that will assist in making improvements to the building.

The second is Mike and Nancy Russell, owners of Main Street Cafe, 13 N. Main St., who plan to purchase 19-21 N. Main and 23 N. Main, for their Tap House & Grille, pending purchase agreements on both properties. 

The couple plans to turn the main level into a tap house featuring 25 to 30 taps and to offer a grille with barbecue, sandwiches, burgers, and bar food. Ultimately, they hope to develop apartments on the upper level as a second phase of the project. 

Mike Russell says he and his wife have been working closely with the Three Rivers DDA, which has been instrumental in pointing them in the right direction, setting up meetings with key state agencies, and pushing them along to help meet deadlines. 

"Recently, we’ve been working with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and the Small Business Development Center on the final touches of our business plan, and of course we appreciate the current owners Jennifer and Randy Huyck for working with us in the process of the acquisition of the buildings," Russell says.

The buildings at 19-23 N. Main are a significant part of downtown Three Rivers, both economically and physically, and have the potential to play a role in the district’s ongoing revitalization, DDA officials say. 

Both buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and the Three Rivers Downtown Local Historic District. The proposed design service outlines improvements that will remove modern storefronts, maintain and enhance the historic integrity of the buildings, improve the buildings’ visibility and appearance, and retain and enhance Three Rivers’ identity as a historic community.

As a Select Level Main Street community, Three Rivers is eligible for design service for three projects in each of five years, with a maximum of 15 total designs.

By following these standards and using the approved Design Services provided by the Michigan Main Street Center, the Russells are also able to apply for additional funding through various incentive programs such as façade grants and federal historic tax credits.

"We’re currently in the final stages of ‘getting our ducks in a row'," Russell says with regards to the project’s timeline. "Nancy and I are very excited about the project and hope to help make Three Rivers a downtown destination."  

Regarding improvements to 32 N. Main, Wolgamood says initially he was hesitant to start the process. "My concerns were about the thought of having to do endless paperwork and on time spent on developing a plan that would be cost-prohibitive to implement for my building improvements. I have been pleasantly surprised from the initial process through receiving the end report for suggested improvements."

He says he found the Three Rivers DDA made the process relatively simple and painless. "Most of the ideas that I’ve received are intuitive and simplistic."

Wolgamood's building, 32 N. Main, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The nomination for listing states the building was built circa 1870 and describes it as a two-story Italianate block with a metal cornice.

"I have actually learned several useful things after having talked with Ms. Johnson, examining informational links that she provided, and by reading her final report," Wolgamood says. "I now have some idea how buildings were originally designed and laid out the way they were, do’s and don’ts for rehabbing, energy efficiency hints, and how to make your building stay within the overall design of the nearby buildings and the importance."

He went on to say: "I rate this experience as very positive. Our goal would be to start work on the façade within the next 90 days and have it completed sometime this fall."

Source: Brian Persky, Three Rivers DDA

Visions for Arcadia Commons West to be unveiled July 16

Development proposals will be put before the community July 16 for the Arcadia Commons West-- the roughly six acres bordered by Park Street, Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo Avenue, and Water Street in downtown Kalamazoo.

Four companies will present their "broad visions" for the property developed in response to a request for ideas put forward by the Arcadia Commons West Task Force. Firms with experience in urban and mixed uses developments were sought for the project.

They were asked to include key parameters such as mixed-income housing, neighborhood connections, mixed-use development, and the accommodation of multiple types of transportation when crafting their visions for the site.

The three teams being interviewed July 16 are: local development partners AVB Inc. and The Hinman Co;  the development firm Fairmont Properties out of Cleveland; and the development partners Lord Aeck Sergeant of Ann Arbor working with Ambling University Development Group based out of Valdosta, Georgia.

Their proposals will be rated by the Arcadia Commons West Task Force, which is made up of representatives from Kalamazoo's Downtown Development Authority; the City of Kalamazoo; the Kalamazoo Community Foundation; Downtown Tomorrow Inc.; and Kalamazoo County. Interviews will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Mary Jane Stryker Theater.

The Task Force hopes to enter into a pre-development agreement with the selected development firm by September 2015. From there, the Task Force will work with developers and the community to create a project for the site.

Previously, the site has been used for a variety of small businesses and a car dealership and is now mostly vacant land. The parcels are owned by Downtown Tomorrow Inc., the Downtown Development Authority, and Western Michigan University.

The development is considered the second phase of the Arcadia Commons Redevelopment Project. Arcadia Commons East was completed in 1995. It became a major transformative project for the northern district of downtown Kalamazoo.  The project consisted of a collaboration of nine private and public property owners investing more than $100 million in new  and renovated construction of commercial, office, institutional, community college, public museum and public open space.

"This site is key to the future growth and success of downtown Kalamazoo," says Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. President Steve Deisler. "It’s imperative that we find a partner who will engage the community and help craft a project to address our current and future needs."

Source: Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.

AVB hires two employees, one intern

A new commercial project engineer, receptionist, and commercial construction intern are the most recent hires for local builders AVB.

Benjamin Esman is a new commercial project engineer for the company. He will be working closely with AVB's Borgess Team, providing support for ongoing Borgess projects.

Esman is a senior at Western Michigan University, working toward his degree in construction engineering in May 2016. He has previous experience as a business development and procurement specialist and can handcraft wooden kayaks.  

The company has hired Jacqueline Swan as a receptionist. She also will support the AVB accounting team. She is working toward her associate of business administration degree in December 2015. A senior at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, she is an active member of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

Pooja Patil is now working for AVB as a commercial construction intern. She will be working with AVB’s commercial construction project team on developments such as the new Gull Road Justice Complex. Patil has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Pune. She is currently working toward her Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Western Michigan University and plans to graduate in June 2016.

Source: AVB Inc.

Perrigo hires a manager and a director

Perrigo Co. has hired a new manager of finance operations and a director of sourcing for the North American procurement group.

Jay Johnson has been hired as Manager, Operations Finance to support the global procurement team. Johnson will coordinate the global materials budgeting and purchasing, as well as make recommendations on spending.

Johnson has nine years of corporate experience in food, retail, and healthcare industries. He previously served in the U.S. Navy for six years where he managed the upkeep, maintenance, and calibration of all electronic communication, detection, surface search, and navigation equipment. He was stationed in San Diego, Ca. and traveled to over 20 different countries.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in science finance, magna cum laude, from Governors State University. He earned his MBA in corporate finance from Ohio State University. He also attended Franklin University where he earned his master’s in marketing and communications. He is from Rocky Mount, N.C. and currently lives in Kalamazoo.

Keith Pappert has been hired as Director of Sourcing for the North American procurement group.

Pappert will provide strategic direction and oversight for Perrigo’s direct material sourcing function. This includes identification, selection, and life cycle management of a global supply base to support the Rx, OTC and nutritional business units for all domestic Perrigo sites.

He has 20 years of related experience.  For the past eight years, Pappert was the director of sourcing for a North American-based store brand personal care products provider. He previously held various procurement and supply chain positions in the consumer products and chemical distribution industries.

Pappert earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Missouri and his MBA from Southern Illinois University.  Keith is from St. Louis, Mo. and is relocating from Glen Carbon, Ill. to West Michigan for this position.

Source: Perrigo Co. PLC

Kalamazoo Community Foundation hires one, promotes two

Brittany Morton has joined the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and two others have received promotions. Morton has been hired as Scholarship Coordinator. Previously, she worked as a library aide at the Kalamazoo Public Library and as an intern with Girls on the Run.

Morton is a recent graduate of Kalamazoo College with a BA in Anthropology and Sociology with a concentration in Public Policy and Urban Affairs.

Current employees recently promoted include Elena Mireles-Hill, as Community Investment Officer and Stephanie Carrier to Human Resources and Finance Coordinator.

Mireles-Hill and has been at the Community Foundation for two years. Mireles-Hill came to the foundation after completing her masters in Social Work and Pastoral Ministry from Boston College.

Carrier has been with the Kalamazoo Community Foundation for five years respectively and she previously worked at Western Michigan University in the Department of Accountancy.

Source: Kalamazoo Community Foundation

First National Bank of Michigan names new director of marketing and community relations

Mary Early is the new Director of Marketing and Community Relations for First National Bank of Michigan.

Early is a member of the southwest Michigan chapter of the American Marketing Association and the Kalamazoo women’s leadership group PEAK.

She is a graduate of Spring Arbor University with a degree in marketing and organizational development. Early is a life-long resident of southwest Michigan and now lives in Plainwell with her husband.  

“We are pleased to welcome Mary to our team," says Larry Lueth, President & CEO, First National Bank of Michigan. "She brings extensive west Michigan experience and knowledge of marketing and advertising at an appropriate time as our bank continues to grow."

First National Bank of Michigan is a locally-owned bank with locations in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Portage. Deposits stay in these west Michigan communities to fund loans, and decisions are made locally by First National Bank of Michigan bankers.

Souce: First National Bank of Michigan
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