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The Groves is home for new family medical practice

A 9,430-square-foot primary care services practise that started with a groundbreaking five months ago is now open for patients.

Bronson Family Medicine -- The Groves opened May 1 in the business park off 9th Street in Oshtemo Township. The Groves business park, immediately south of I-94, is also where Bronson Athletic Club and Bronson Home Health Care are located.

The building model was created specifically to minimize barriers to care designed as part of an improvement team planning event made up of patients, staff, physicians and architects.

The practice has been designed to be highly efficient when it comes to patient appointments, reducing waste, and ultimately an providing an improved patient experience. One thing that will mean for established patients is same-day appointments for those who are ill, seeking a physical, or preventive care.

The practice will also have collaborative services, such as dietary and behavioral health.

The practice currently has a staff of 13, with plans to hire another five in the near future. They work with three physicians, all board-certified in family medicine:

Eric Houchin, MD, specializes in addiction medicine, behavioral health, and wellness and prevention. He previously practiced at Bronson Family Medicine Downtown.

• Natasha Koren, MD, has special interests that include chronic disease management and skin care. She is relocating from Bronson Family Medicine Portage.

• Chris Unterseher, MD,. who previously provided care at Bronson Internal Medicine Downtown. In addition to being board certified in family medicine, he is board certified in psychiatry. All three physicians are currently accepting new patients.

"Many aspects of our new practice were researched and designed to improve the patient experience. Even the layout of the office was determined in collaboration with patients, doctors, staff and architects," says Laurel Barber, Bronson Healthcare vice president and administrator for Bronson Medical Practices.

Source: Erin Smith, Bronson Healthcare Group

May 16 is date for Art Walk in Battle Creek

In Battle Creek a sure sign of the changing seasons is the Spring Into the Arts art walk.  

The eighth annual event is set for 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 16 in downtown Battle Creek.

The self-guided walk offers a chance to see the work of artists along a route of 30 receptions hosted by participating downtown businesses.

An art-filled day gets under way at 10 a.m. with the Chalk It Up! Chalk Walk. Chalkers will create their masterpieces on concrete at the corner of Jackson and McCamly streets. (Those interested in chalking for this event should send an email indicating interest immediately to jones@bcunlimited.org.)

A collaborative project created by the Battle Creek Public Schools K-12 Visual Arts teachers and students that bringing students together as one, the Peace Flag Project, will be exhibited at the fountain in Mill Race Park. Each student has created a flag with their own wish, hope, or solution for Peace in our community and world. The Peace Flag Project is based on the prayer flags of Tibet and Japan.

The Deep Fried Pickle Project will provide musical entertainment in front of Commerce Pointe, which also is where visitors can check out a watercolor exhibit by Cathy Colella.

At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Art Walkers can take in lively art demonstrations throughout the night and Battle Creek’s historian Kurt Thornton will be signing his latest book, Images of Modern America, Battle Creek.

Downtown’s only art gallery, The Rogue Artist Movement, will have a collection of art and artists on hand.   

Battle Creek Pride Resource Center will host The Art of Drag, that consists of costumes, wigs, make-up, photos, video and two live professionals to answer questions and share with visitors.

The trolley will be on hand to help art enthusiasts move from one end of downtown to the other for free.  Catch a ride from four locations: Carlyle Street and W. Michigan Avenue, McCamly Street and W. Michigan Avenue, Capital Avenue and E. Michigan Avenue and Division Street/M-66 & E. Michigan Avenue.

And that is only the beginning of what will be offered throughout the evening.

Where allowed, art work will remain on display through July 18, will be available for sale and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the artist.

Source: Bridgette Jones, Battle Creek Unlimited

Cultural leaders open to each others members in May

May is time to get your culture on in Southwest Michigan.

The Air Zoo, Binder Park Zoo, Gilmore Car Museum, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, and Kalamazoo Nature Center are cooperating throughout the month of May to the benefit of their members.

The five local organizations that have been bringing cultural events to the community for many years are working together during the month to encourage their members to try out what's going on at other institutions.

The collaboration, being tried for the first time in this area, is called the Southwest Michigan Cultural Exchange and through it members of any of the five participating organizations can use their membership for free admission at the other organizations. There may be additional costs to experience activities or programs.

The cooperative effort was announced at a recent press conference in which the heads of each of the five organizations described how they would work together and what prompted the move.

"The first time I came to Kalamazoo -- a have four young kids from age 5 to 12 -- and I looked around to see what kind of arts and culture would be available for my family. I saw the Civic and the KIA and quickly learned there was so much amazing arts and culture here. For a community this size, I have never seen anything like it," says Troy Thrash, who moved to the community in 2013 to lead the Air Zoo.

Thrash went on to perform a science experiment that demonstrated the power of different chemicals working together to create something that was greater than the sum of the parts. "It's a win, win, win, win, win proposition," Thrash says.

Jay Follis, marketing director of the Gilmore Car Museum, encourages people to visit the museum that features 300 vehicles on a 90 acre site. Hands-on activities, like Model T driving classes (it's not as easy as it looks, Follis says), 18 large shows, automobiles with international backgrounds, historic buildings, and programs with educational aspects all are part of the experience in Hickory Corners.

Diane Thompson, CEO of Binder Park Zoo, urges people to visit the new bear exhibit where the adolescent bears featuring two brothers and a sister, is one of the new features drawing people to the zoo this spring. (Thompson held a tortoise throughout the press conference.)

From the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Bill Rose says that as one of the earliest, largest and acknowledged as one of the most successful nature centers, what it has to offer brings in parents, toddlers, school age children and senior citizens. Whether it's a visit to see the indoor exhibits or to travel the 14 miles of trail, visitors will find as spring unfolds a focus on birds and blossoms. It's also time for summer camp sign up.

James Bridenstein, executive director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, says May 17 will be the West Michigan Area show and it has grown from the original nine counties to now include artists from 14 counties. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on May 16 this year, the show will feature 97 artists. At the end of May, the KIA will be exhibiting the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany in three exhibitions that show off his jewelry, leaded-glass lamps and windows, and his work in blown glass and mosaics, including 27 lamps and five window.

"Some of this work has never been exhibited before," Bridenstein says.

The leaders of the five organizations said if the month is successful in cross pollinating the memberships they could try such a collaboration again in the future. Indicators such as whether more people than usual from Battle Creek visit will be tracked to evaluate the program. Between the five organizations there are now 20,000 members and the individual organizations are hoping to see their numbers rise.

And yet there is another measure of success. As Thrash put it: "If we find one kid who falls in love with science through airplanes, that is pretty darn successful."

May activities at the participating organizations include:

The Air Zoo
Enjoy a 3D Space Shuttle Ride, the Century of Flight Ferris Wheel, a Corsair Challenge/Mission to Mars, Flight Simulators, the Montgolfier Balloon Race, a Paratrooper Jump and a Disc Golf Course.

Binder Park Zoo
View dozens of animal species, Feed the Giraffes, ride a Tram to Wild Africa or the Binda Conservation Carousel, shop in the Safari Gift Shop and enjoy wonderful food in Beulah's restaurant.

Gilmore Car Museum
View more than 300 extraordinary cars and motorcycles from all eras, a 1930s Service Station, historic barns, a functioning 1941 Diner and car dealerships from a bygone era.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
View artwork from four exhibitions: the High School Area Show, the West Michigan Area Show, Cultural Encounters: India, Burma and Tibet and Inside Steinway: Photographs by Christopher Payne.

Kalamazoo Nature Center
View over 1,100 acres of wooded and rolling countryside, and participate in activities such as Birding with the Stars, Yoga in the Glen Vista, Wildflowers after Work and Hands-on Gardening.

Source: Participating organizations and press conference at the Air Zoo

Photos: Kathy Jennings

Goodwill opens boutique in Stevensville

Upscale women's clothing and accessories, along with specialty items such as handmade soaps, antiques and collectibles are on the shelves and in the aisles of Goodwill Industries newest location, a boutique in Stevensville.

The new retail site opened May 2 at 709 St. Joseph Ave. in downtown Stevensville at the four-way stop sign.

Shoppers also can find Goodwill collectibles and designer items via online shopping at shopgoodwill.com.

Regular hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The new location also will serve as a donation center.

In addition to upscale women's clothing and accessories the store will offer new and used clothing, glassware, shoes, and other items found in other Southwest Michigan Goodwill Retail outlets. The opening of the Stevensville store brings the number of Goodwill outlets in the six-county area to 10.

Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan provides employment, education, training, and support services to individuals and families so they can achieve self-sufficiency.

Revenue from retail sales provides individual wages, job training and other services that prepare people for employment success. These funds are channeled back into the community in the form of taxes paid and the purchase of goods and services.

Officials from Goodwill Industries, Village of Stevensville and Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce turned out May 2 for the ribbon cutting on the latest retail outlet.

Source: Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce

Arcadia Ales opens for business in downtown Kalamazoo

It's been almost two years in the making, but this week the wait will finally be over as Arcadia Ales officially comes home to Kalamazoo.

The 30,000-square- foot-facility on the East bank of the Kalamazoo River, adjacent to Mayor’s River Front Park and near Red Arrow golf course houses a state-of-the-art brewing facility, office space, a brew pub overlooking the river and a soon-to-be-completed outdoor area and beer garden.

The 4,500-square-foot brew pub will host its grand opening Thursday, May 8, offering the Arcadia Ales brewed just feet away.
"I'm proud to say that there is going to be a beer that is labeled 'Made in Kalamazoo, Michigan'," Suprise says.

Live music by the Kalamazoo Pipe Band and tap proceeds benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters will highlight the event. It kicks off at 3 p.m. with a ribbon cutting.

Arcadia Ales, named for Arcadia Creek, opened in 1996 and was initially slated to be downtown Kalamazoo’s third brewery, following Bell's and Olde Peninsula. Complications forced owner Tim Suprise to take the venture east to Battle Creek.

After settling in downtown Battle Creek, Suprise went to work building a brand of beer that has continued to grow in popularity each year. And though 90 percent of the company’s production will shift to Kalamazoo, the Battle Creek location will remain open and active.

"I think it started (18) years ago when we originally intended to build Arcadia Brewing Company here in Kalamazoo," says Suprise. "That project transitioned to Battle Creek, where a brand and a destination not only was created but it developed and nurtured into something really special."

The River’s Edge facility is currently equipped to brew 30,000 barrels of hand forged ale per year and has space to grow to nearly 60,000 barrels if necessary. Putting that in perspective, Arcadia brewed around 12,000 barrels in 2013.

Kalamazoo will also be the sole canning location for Sky High Rye and Whitsun, the two offerings currently being canned. The canning line will be the one previously used in the original Battle Creek location.

For more information on the grand opening and Arcadia Ales’ new space visit the company's website

Source: Tim Suprise, Arcadia Brewing Co.

Space available for businesses that promote foot traffic

It's been many years since an ice cream parlor, a pharmacy, and other retailers brought shoppers to Washington Square on Portage Street. That kind of bustle is what neighbors would like to see once again.

Businesses that can help revitalize the neighborhood will be given preference as the Kalamazoo County Land Bank seeks and reviews proposals for the commercial hub.

Commercial spaces are available with flexible floor plans, ranging from 700- to 3,600-square-feet. Some are newly renovated suites and others are white box for a business owner's own design.

"Neighborhood retail, food establishments, any business that will will activate the street front and increase walking traffic" are the types of businesses being sought, says Kelly Clarke, of the Kalamazoo County Land Bank.

Businesses that can draw not only from the surrounding neighborhood, but also will attract customers from across the city would be ideal. The Land Bank is asking fair market rent for the commercial properties, but may offer incentive based rent for proposals strongly aligned with the overall goals of the redevelopment of Washington Square.

Washington Square is within walking distance to downtown Kalamazoo, and a few blocks away from the historic Kalamazoo Farmers Market, WMU Medical School now under construction, and the proposed $42 million KVCC Health and Wellness Campus. All of which could create a potential market for any business choosing to locate in the Washington Square area.

In addition to the commercial space being offered, two-bedroom apartments over the retail space on the west side of Portage Street also are available. New engineered wood flooring, fresh paint and other amenities are offered. Clarke says artists who want to live over their studio might find a home they can appreciate in the apartments.

The Land Bank has partnered with the Edison Neighborhood Association and others to work towards the revitalization of Washington Square. The work that has been accomplished will be on display during the May 2 Art Hop.

Artists from the neighborhood and beyond will be at various locations in the neighborhood. The art of Conrad Kaufman and Aubrey Jewel Hardaway will be at 1350 Portage Street. The photography of Sam Zomer will be seen at 1313 Portage and the photographs of F. L. Boyd will be at 1326 Portage. At Fire, a father, daughter show exploring different visions of home will be seen in the works of Zinta and Vistarts Aistars. KVCC students and youngsters from the Boys and Girls Club also will have art on exhibit during Art Hop.

Source: Kelly Clarke, Kalamazoo County Land Bank 

The Mason Jar opens in Benton Harbor Arts District

Soon there will be a new place for breakfast, lunch, or brunch in Benton Harbor's Art District.

The Mason Jar Cafe plans a May 5 opening and locally grown and organic meat and vegetables are featured on the menu. “We will not be serving anything frozen or processed; and the majority of our products will be from local sources," says Abel Abarca Martinez. "Everyone that enters our restaurant will feel at home.”

Martinez and co-owner Jayme Cousins have years of restaurant and culinary experience--Martinez  worked with the Bistro on the Boulevard’s Chef Ali Barker for 10 years and Cousins has worked in various local restaurants as a manager and in a front-of-the-house capacity.

“It’s been a shared dream to own our own restaurant,” said Martinez, “We want to foster an environment where people can savor the flavors of healthy foods.”

The menu features eggs from free-range chickens, fresh fruit grown locally, and pancakes in both buttermilk and gluten free varieties. The lunch menu includes salads, soups, and sandwiches with the same kind of healthy and tasty offerings.

After Cousins experienced some medical issues and closely evaluated the foods she was eating, and the effect it was having on her health, she wanted to open a restaurant that would be a place people could eat well.  

But she and Martinez needed some guidance on how to make it come about so they turned to the Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance. “We really had no idea on where to go or what to do with our ideas. They got us focused and connected with the right people,”  Cousins says.

The owners of The Mason Jar Cafe also are getting support for rent on the first year's lease  Cornerstone Alliance Rent Subsidization Program. “Recognizing that cash flow is usually a challenge for start-up businesses, this program helps to minimize operating expenses; reducing some of the financial burden experienced in the first year of business,” says Greg Vaughn of Cornerstone Alliance.

“It’s been a shared dream to own our own restaurant,” says Martinez, “We want to foster an environment where people can savor the flavors of healthy foods.”

Source: Susan Cox, Cornerstone Alliance

Old House Network gets ready for great unveiling

The Old House Network is made up of people who walk by an old house covered in vinyl or aluminum siding and wonder what might be revealed if the siding came off.

They ask themselves, "Are there fish scale shingles in the gables or could there be a sunburst over the front door?"

Every few years the Old House Network gets together to strip the artificial siding off a house to reveal the original material underneath. They've found most of the time the original wooden siding is hiding under the “modern” material, protected from the elements for 50 or 75 years and waiting to be revealed and dressed up with a new coat of paint.

They also have found that sometimes trim is missing--removed to make the siding installation easier. And sometimes everything is there and the house only needs a good scrubbing and scraping before a new coat of paint goes on.

Previously, the Network team has unveiled houses on South Westnedge, Minor Street and Burr Oak, all in the Vine neighborhood.

At 914 South Westnedge, in 2007, it took 21 volunteers only 4 hours to strip green Insulwood siding from a turreted two and a half story house, and that included time for doughnut breaks and lunch from Martini’s Pizza, the group says.

In 2009, at 716 Minor, the Old House Network took on a house with a wrap-around porch and bay window. The volunteers found fish-scale shingles in all of the many gables. Nineteen people turned out to help, swinging crowbars and hammers, clambering up and down ladders and pulling nails for four-and-a-half hours.

The following year, almost two dozen people turned out to work at 305 Burr Oak, so many that they had to go out and get more pry bars. Four hours later a Classic Foursquare was revealed – with very unusual corner boards and only a little scroll work missing under the attic window. 

This year, on May 3, the Network will host another Great Unveiling of a house on Elm Street – the first house in the historic Stuart neighborhood. The 2014 project house has been through a fire and three owners in four years.

The Old House Network is looking for volunteers to climb scaffolding and ladders and engage in a little positive demolition. The group will provide materials and tools, including safety gear as well as coffee and doughnuts in the morning and lunch. Partners for the Unveiling this year include Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity and the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission. This event is the kick off for Preservation Month 2014.

Volunteers can sign up for the Great Unveiling by calling the Old House Network at 269-720-0403 and leaving your name and phone number – or email at the Old House Network website.  

Source: Sharon Ferraro, Old House Network

12 community organizations receive Responsiveness Grants from Kalamazoo Community Foundation

Nonprofit organizations that are working to address the systemic problems in Kalamazoo County received nearly $4.5 million in grants through the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

The Foundations works "with nonprofit leaders on a daily basis throughout the community to find solutions for deeply-rooted issues that create the symptoms of challenges ranging from homelessness and infant mortality to high school dropouts and unemployment,” says President and CEO Carrie Pickett-Erway.

In the first quarter of 2014 funding, called Responsive Grants, totaled $785,500. They went to organizations and program that address early childhood learning and school readiness, economic and community development, individuals and families, and youth development.

Those receiving grants are:

• Ministry with Community: $300,000 to support the 2014 Capital Campaign.

• Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan: $110,000 for operational support to maintain and increase efforts to eliminate discrimination in housing and foster equal housing opportunities in Kalamazoo County.

• Hispanic American Council: $91,000 for staffing resources to continue cultural brokering work being done to bring existing programming to the community of Latinos and English language learners.

•  Guardian, Finance and Advocacy Services: $75,000 to support the Financial Services Network Initiative.

• Fair Food Matters: $73,000 for outreach and operations for the 2014 Kalamazoo Food Justice Initiative, to improve access to healthy, local food in Kalamazoo County through programs and long-term community-building strategies.

• Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo: $40,000 to support Girls on the Run.

• Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan: $32,500 for Life Guides.

Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity, Inc.: $24,000 to support affordable home ownership for vulnerable families.

• Residential Opportunities, Inc.: $10,000 to support the Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia.

• Council of Michigan Foundations: $10,000 to support the Office of Urban Metropolitan Initiative.

• Building Blocks: $10,000 for 2014 Building Blocks projects.

• Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kalamazoo: $10,000 to support Future 4 Teens.

These represent a portion of the total awarded so far this year. Others include:

• Grant distributions through Advised Funds, those suggested by donors, totaled almost $1.024 million.

• Grants from Field-of-Interest Funds, those for which donors request that funds go to a specific area, totaled more than $96,890.

• Distributions from funds established for nonprofit agencies totaled nearly $2.583 million.

The Responsiveness Grants and the Kalamazoo Community Foundations work across the county is "only possible thanks to the many generous people in our community who make gifts, large and small, that are flexible and can be used to address immediate and future challenges in many critical areas of need,” says Joanna Donnelly Dales, vice president of donor relations.

Source: Tom Vance, Kalamazoo Community Foundation

Pictured: Boys and Girls Club, Ministry with Community, Fair Food Matters

Kalamazoo offers new way to pay parking meters: It's mobile

If you've ever fumbled through your wallet looking for quarters to feed the parking meter only to realize you spent them all at the coffee shop, the latest innovation from Central City Parking and Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. is for you.

Parking meter transactions can now be conducted using a mobile telephone. Those who use downtown Kalamazoo parking meters now have the option of paying for parking through a mobile application that works with the iPhone, Android, Windows, and Blackberry smart phones.

The service is offered by Parkmobile USA, Inc. The company's services are used in more than 500 locations in the U.S.

To use the new Parkmobile system, customers may register for free at www.parkmobile.com or via the downloadable mobile app. Once registered, they can use the mobile app, the Internet, or a toll free number to pay for parking.

A 35 cent Parkmobile transaction fee will be charged at the start of a parking session. This is in addition to the regularly charged parking fees. Parking rates on all downtown meters will remain unchanged and coin payment will continue to be accepted.

After setting up the account, customers can immediately begin to purchase parking via the mobile app by entering the zone number listed on the meter and paying with their credit card, debit card, PayPal or Parkmobile Wallet.

Parking officers will be equipped with a handheld device used to identify Parkmobile payments.

Mobile app users may also choose to receive alerts and reminders 15 minutes prior to expiration of their parking session. Parkmobile will not allow users to purchase more time than allotted by the meters.

Kalamazoo is the ninth city in Michigan to use the Parkmobile payment option for its parking meters. Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Petoskey, Traverse City, Mount Clemens, South Haven, Grosse Pointe, Ferndale and Birmingham also use it. Parkmobile is also available on Western Michigan University's campus.

"I'm excited to see Kalamazoo take this forward thinking stance on parking, making downtown more convenient and accessible, just as other larger cities like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor have," says Susan Terranella, co-owner of Cakes Boutique and President of the Downtown Kalamazoo Restaurant and Retail Association. "This can only mean positive things for the downtown shopping community."  

Source: Denise Negrea, Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.

Earth Day projects spruce up Northside neighborhood with help from KPEP

Earth Day provided an opportunity for volunteers from KPEP and Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers to work together on cleanup and construction projects in the Northside neighborhood.

The two cooperated on cleaning a greenhouse, assisting with concrete work, and helping to construct a Literacy Park for the Northside  Association for Community Development.

A Literacy Park? The goal for the park is to provide visual learning opportunities for youngsters in the area--the NACD wants to take literacy outside. A six-week summer program will take place at the park this summer that will help kids with reading and other learning skills. The park will have an awning that contains visuals of the alphabet and multiplication tables.

NACD director Mattie Jordan-Woods envisioned the park as  a year round venue where people of all ages can be educated in gardening, reading, and where children can complete hands-on multiplication tables.

A six-week summer program will take place at the park this summer that will help kids with reading and other learning skills.

The Earth Day event marked the first day in the cleanup and construction of the park. The second phase of the cleanup and construction of the park will occur Saturday, May 31.

In a separate activity, KPEP volunteers worked with public safety officers to cleanup the blocks of Ada St. and Woodbury.

By volunteering event helps KPEP residents fulfill their community service requirement. Organizers say the event was more than a beautification of Northside Kalamazoo. It allowed KPEP volunteers to give back to the community, build relationships and interact with KDPS officers.

Source: Truscott Rossman

Southwest Michigan's Second Wave takes spring break

We’re taking a post-Easter/Earth Day holiday next week. 

Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave will not publish the week of May 1, though there will be Facebook and Twitter updates throughout the hiatus.

In the online publication business we call these "dark weeks" but we’re really hoping it’s a chance to get out in the sun and get a little yard work done, maybe smell the flowers if anything is dares to bloom before May. 

We will return May 8 with new stories and pictures.

People's Food Coop helps people grow their own food

People's Food Co-op sells food but it also wants people to have a relationship with their food that best comes from growing it themselves.

Empowering people to raise their own vegetables is the mission behind Grow-It-Yourself day, the sixth annual for the co-op, set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 26.

Workshops topics such as growing plants in a bucket and composting with worms are part of the educational side of the day that also promises fun in the way of music and dancing.

Celebration goers will be able to purchase plant starters such as herbs and vegetables, including kale and greens. Organic and heirloom seeds, as well as locally grown organic plant starts will be sold.

Most of the celebration of spring will be at the People's Food Co-op parking lot at 507 Harrison St. There also will be hands-on gardening demonstrations at the co-op's Willard Street Gardens.

Families are invited to attend and there will be an area where youngsters can learn about plants, paint a pot and get a free plant. Kalamazoo Public Library will present a story time for youngsters.

Local organizations participating in the daylong event includes the Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones, Tribal Revival, and Cinzori Farms, which is making the organic plant starts available. They can be purchased with SNAP. 

The theme of the day is educate, celebrate and participate in growing your own foods, says Jacob Pinney-Johnson. "This day is the brainchild of our produce manager Rosie Florian," says  Pinney-Johnson. "She describes it as a day to empower people, to show them they have the power to grow healthy food they can put on their own table."  

There is no charge to participate in Grow-It-Yourself Day.

Source: Jacob Pinney-Johnson, People's Food Co-op 

Infinisource to add 30 jobs in Coldwater

The story of Infinisource has been one of change and growth since its beginnings in 1986. The latest move sees it growing in place in Coldwater.

Infinisource has extended for five years its lease in the Roosevelt Building, 15 E. Washington St., in Coldwater. The new lease will make it possible for 30 jobs to be added immediately there. That will bring the staff in Coldwater to 175 and the company says it anticipates further growth.

Infinisource has spent over $1 million in updates and improvements to the interior of the Roosevelt Building since it moved in 10 years ago, completely renovating everything but the outer walls and foundation.

The company's roots trace back to helping companies comply with COBRA law. It moved into services such as payroll, time and attendance, benefits administration, and other products and services used in human resources. To reflect those moves the company changed its name from COBRA Compliance Systems, Inc. to Infinisource in 2003.

In 2011, Infinisource and technology innovator America OnShore merged and the two began to offer their services in the Cloud as a Software as a Service company.  A year later Infinisource added Qqest, a growing provider of time and attendance solutions.

Infinisource now has 400 employees and locations in Charlotte, NC; Sandy, UT; and Coldwater. It serves 63,000 business customers.

“We are very excited to expand our employment footprint in Coldwater because the talent we find in the region matches well with our core values and culture," says Dave Dawson, Chief Executive Officer. "Infinisource accomplishes our vision every day through the courage, curiosity and hard work of our employees.  We strive to be a workplace where employees are valued, listened to and provided opportunity for growth.”

Source: Julie Smith,  Infinisource, Inc.

Find out what a lender wants to know about your business

If you've been wondering what it takes to get financing to start a new business or expand an existing one the opportunity to learn is coming up.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Southwest Region is hosting the SBA Meet the Lender Event, from 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, April 24 at the Kinexus office at 499 W. Main Street in Benton Harbor.

More than 20 commercial lenders, loan guarantors, and service organizations will be there to answer questions. Business owners are encouraged to talk with more than one of the lending institutions that will be present.

Attendees should plan to meet with  Kinexus SBDC Business Consultant Bob Jones for one-on-one counseling before the event to ensure all business plans and financials are in order.

The forum is designed to help entrepreneurs understand what lenders look for when they are making investment decisions. Business owners will have the opportunity to evaluate their pitch and find out how to improve it if they are struggling to find funding for additional growth.

“In this environment it is important that business owners speak with more than one lending institution when looking for funding,” says Brian Picarazzi, senior area manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which sponsors the event.  

There is no cost to attend, however, registration is required. Contact Jones at jonesb@kinexus.org or (269) 927-1064, extension 1148 to register. In the past year, Jones has helped successfully open 19 small businesses and is currently working with an 80 additional clients.

Other resources also will be available at the event, including representatives from SCORE, the Women’s Business Center, and the Michigan State University Extension.

Source: Betsy Loeks, Kinexus
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