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Guitars, mandolins, dobros all part of Fretboard Festival

Ukuleles, mandolins, hammered dulcimers, banjos, and guitars will all be in the spotlight March 21-21 at the annual Fretboard Festival now in its ninth year.  

Fretboard Festival takes place March 21 and 22 at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and Kalamazoo Valley Community College's Anna Whitten Hall.

Over the years the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival has expanded the amount and diversity of the bands, workshops, and vendors. Variety is what makes it such a great two days to spend with no matter who you are, says Chris Falk, special events coordinator for the museum.?

Throughout the free event, instrument designers talk about their trade to festival goers, workshops on stringed instruments are offered, and there are live performances by area musicians. This yearly event is a salute to all stringed instruments – especially those that are crafted in this part of Michigan, say festival organizers.

There also will be 40 vendors in the museum and Anna Whitten hall. Luthiers, music clubs, radio stations, and music-oriented organizations are participating.

Food will be available from Aramark food service in Anna Whitten Hall. Sound production will be provided by Ian Gorman.

A performance by the roots musicians of Dragon Wagon kicks off the festival. The band calls its sound "bluegrass folk rock with a shot of Irish whiskey." The group formed in Ann Arbor in 2008 has played across the country, and has been featured in many festivals, Dragon Wagon currently is nominated for a Detroit Music Award.

The festival continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Musicians featured at Fretboard Festival are: Kaitlin Rose, BenJammin Educational Music, Seventh Son Blues Band, Ninth Street Bridge, Megan Rae, Bob Rowe and The Green Valley Boys, Rachael Davis, the Play-In Contest Winner and acoustic guitarist Bryan Warren, Los Bandits, Fried Egg Nebula, and The Mainstays.

A complete schedule can be found here.

"The festival has expanded from 8 to 13 bands on 3 stages," says Falk. "We have increased the amount of workshops from five to 10. And we have more vendors than ever before at 40 over the last 2 years. Our attendance has doubled in that time. The variety and diversity of the bands, workshops, and vendors make for an two-day family friendly adventure as the festival is dispersed throughout the Kalamazoo Valley Museum."

Source: Dawn M. Kemp, Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Walk to End Homelessness promises good time for serious reasons

Each year hundreds of walkers take to the streets of Kalamazoo, united in their effort to end homelessness.

This year the walk takes place Saturday, March 22. It is the largest fundraiser for Housing Resources Inc., which works to assure housing for vulnerable residents in Kalamazoo County.

What makes the work of HRI necessary?

A family of four in Kalamazoo County needs an income of $14 an hour to pay fair market price for a two-bedroom apartment, yet an estimated 47 percent of community renters cannot meet this threshold, Davis says.

"These families are just one crisis away from being homeless," Davis says. "Last year alone, HRI received more than 8,000 requests for help. They are the reason we’re walking."

HRI provides assistance through affordable housing at Pinehurst Townhomes, The Rickman House, Rosewood, and Summit Park, emergency rapid rehousing at Eleanor House, and through a number of other programs. 

The 2014 goal is to raise  $100,000, which would go to prevent homelessness and offer safe, affordable and permanent housing.  

Donations can be made individually or by soliciting pledges, and teams are encouraged to participate. Gifts also can be made onsite on the day of the walk. Donations also are accepted through FirstGiving here.  

The event, Walking Home, typically has followed a three-mile route along the Kalamazoo Valley River Trail. But heavy snow accumulation is prompting a change this year. The course will largely follow city streets from Eleanor House to Star World Amusement, 412 Harrison St., and back to Eleanor House.

Walking Home onsite registration begins at 8 a.m. on March 22. Warm-up begins at 8:45 a.m., and the walk begins at 9 a.m.

"We promote a festive atmosphere with a serious goal," Davis explained. "We want people to have a good time while they make a positive impact on housing needs."

Source: Michelle Davis, Housing Resources Inc. and Rick Chambers, Rick Chambers & Associates

Group coordinating assistance for students receives more than $170,000

Kalamazoo County has many individuals and organizations working to help high school students do well so they can go to college and succeed there. A group that coordinates these activities, the College and Career Action Network, has been awarded nearly $172,000 for operations.

The grant from The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo supports CACAN’s operational efforts through September, 2014.

CACAN’s goal is to get more students from Kalamazoo County to attend and graduate from college, says Brenda Pickett, of CACAN. It focuses particular attention on helping students who are the first generation in their family to attend college, students of color, and those from low-income families.

College is considered to be any post-high school institution that offers certificates or other credentialed training and prepares students for a career, including two- and four-year academic degrees.

According to Kalamazoo Regional Educational Services Agency (KRESA), 72 percent of Kalamazoo County high school graduates currently enroll in higher education after graduation. CACAN hopes to push that number to 82 percent by 2017.

CACAN is one of three action networks of the Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo. The other two address Kindergarten Readiness and Adult Learning. CACAN also  receives some state support along with its operational grant from The Learning Network.

CACAN, like each of networks and programs of The Learning Network, strives to make sure efforts are not being duplicated, to identify gaps in resources to students and seize opportunities as they present themselves.  

“We think of CACAN as wrapping our community’s collective arms around these students,” says Pickett. “We help them recognize the value of a college education and we offer tools and support to help them succeed there."

The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo is funded by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Its mission is to create a culture of learning throughout the community.

Source: Tom Vance, Kalamazoo Community Foundation

Sales expand into southern California for Bell's Brewery

Soon Bell's Brewery will have all three coasts covered. Bell's recently announced it will begin distributing its brew in southern California in early May.

Craft Beer Guild Distributing of California will distribute Bell’s full portfolio to San Diego and Imperial counties. Imperial County borders both Arizona and Mexico.

Selling Bell's Beer in those two counties will help the company establish itself as it makes sure the needs of existing customers are met, says Laura Bell, Bell's vice president. The company will be joining an already outstanding craft beer community, she says.

In February, Bell's began distributing its beers in New York city. It previously had expanded in upstate and western New York, its first new territory in nearly five years.

The Bell's website has a Beer Finder feature that allows people to see what bars, restaurants, and retailers serve and sell Bell's beer.

Since its beginnings in 1985, Bell's has grown into a craft brewery that employs more than 200 people over a 19 state area, in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington DC.

Bell's now brews more than 20 beers for distribution as well as many other small batch beers that are served at our pub in Kalamazoo, the Eccentric Cafe.

Its Logistics Center, located in Galesburg near I-94, is a 30,000-square-foot building that formerly housed Galesburg Frozen Foods. The building opened in October 2011 and is used to store packaged beer and serve as a pickup point for distributors.

Source: Bell's Brewery

At KCC, training in manufacturing free to those who qualify

Programs to prepare people to go back to work are being expanded at Kellogg Community College. And the college is looking for applicants for special manufacturing training that is free to those who meet eligibility requirements.

The program is possible as a result of a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

KCC will use the grant over the next three years to replace and upgrade equipment at the Regional Manufacturing Technology Center and expand a variety of programs in the college’s Industrial Trades and Workforce Solutions programs, which target Michigan’s growing need for manufacturing employees.

The training programs are geared toward the unemployed, especially those whose jobs were eliminated due to foreign trade. Qualified employees whose jobs were lost as a result of outsourcing can obtain free training that may equip them for a variety of production and skilled trades positions.

“This is a unique, employer-driven program in that we are partnering with area employers to ensure the training is aligned with their needs and with job placement for individuals who complete the training,” says Sara Hubbard, director of Workforce Solutions at KCC.

Some applicants can begin a training program at KCC immediately and earn a credential within a few weeks.

KCC can help those interested prepare for high-wage, high-demand jobs that are being created right here in Calhoun, Barry and Branch counties, says Laura McGuire, director of KCC’s Regional Manufacturing Technology Center.

She also encourages companies to send their employees to KCC for advanced training in machining, welding and industrial technology. “Students will earn nationally recognized credentials while learning programming, precision measurement, lean manufacturing and more.”

For more information or to determine eligibility, contact Casey Holbrook, career coordinator at KCC, at 269-565-2804 or here.

Source: Simon A. Thalmann, Kellogg Community College

In BTR Park Michigan Office Solutions has room to grow

The Business Technology and Research Part at Western Michigan University is the place Michigan Office Solutions wants to grow.

The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox Co., has located at 4664 Campus Drive, a 4,000-square-foot building that includes space to see Xerox technology in action.

"The new facility has room to showcase Xerox technology and innovation, and our tradition of hiring interns and alumni through WMU continues to grow, says MOS President Ralph Slider. "We look forward to being a part of this innovative and collaborative environment."

MOS is the 42nd company in the BTR Park and its decision to locate in the Weidenhammer Building means that site is now 100 percent full.

Slider says over the next few years, he says, MOS expects to expand its Kalamazoo office by six to eight employees annually.

The firm has a long history of hiring WMU alumni and has more than a dozen on the company's employee roster. They include professionals in sales and marketing as well as advanced software engineering and information technology.  

The BTR Park Launched in 1999 and shares the university's 265-acre Parkview Campus with WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

MOS is the type of firm the park was designed for--one that fits into the park's profile and one that plans to be actively engaged with the University's academic programs and students, says Bob Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach and point person for the BTR Park.

"Our focus is on companies in the life sciences, advanced engineering and information technology," Miller says. "We've built an environment in which there's a real sense of synergy between our park partners and the University's academic mission. MOS' presence at the park will certainly serve to enhance that quality."

Source: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University

Second hotel to locate in Portage's Trade Centre

A Hilton Homewood Suites hotel will be going up this year in Trade Centre, the Portage development that's highly visible from I-94.
The Trade Centre development is located at the northwest corner of I-94 and South Westnedge Avenue. Roger Hinman, of The Hinman Co., and Joe Gesmundo, of AVB, purchased the 32-acre property in 2003. Since then, two office buildings and a Courtyard at Marriott have been developed there. 
The combination of a  regional location at the "corner of Main and Main," visibility and access, high-quality construction, and reputable businesses and brands, have created a highly desirable synergy at one of the most recognizable gateways in Southwest Michigan, say Hinman officials. 
Trade Centre currently has two fully occupied Class A office buildings that together have nearly 200,000 square feet of office space occupied by tenants that include Stryker, Plante Moran, and S2 Games. A Courtyard by Marriott hotel opened there in 2013. 
The new hotel will have 97 rooms with all the amenities expected in a Hilton Homewood Suites property. Construction is expected to get under way this summer and it is anticipated the hotel will open in 2015.
Because many business travelers are extremely loyal to a particular hotel brand, having both a Marriott and Hilton branded hotel in the development was a goal from the beginning.
"Great development projects can take time," says Roger Hinman. "We have been presented with numerous opportunities that we felt didn’t quite fit our plan. We are very committed to delivering a high quality and successful development at this essential gateway to the community, and know that the Hilton Homewood Suites will help us to meet these goals."
Plans for the rest of the development include two to four restaurants and another three-story office building.
Source: The Hinman Company

Don't Farm Naked says Friends of the St. Joe River

Well, yes. The provocative title is sort of like those old "now that I have your attention" advertisements. But it's for a good reason. The Friends of the St. Joe River Association promise "Don't Farm Naked: Covered Fields Create Healthy Soils, Bigger Profits and Cleaner Water," will be an "engaging and educational night."
The talk is part of the seventh annual event for the Watershed Council, this year at 5 p.m. Friday, March 14 at the Sturges-Young Auditorium in downtown Sturgis. 
The evening will include dinner, networking, cash-bar the presentation of the Al Smith Annual Stewardship Award, and the keynote presentation "Don't Farm Naked" by Dr. Hans Kok, an Indiana-based agricultural engineer. 
Kok’s presentation will include a brief history of agriculture and live demonstrations showing the impact of certain practices on soil biology, agricultural productivity, and water quality. The Friends say they hope to have lots of agricultural growers in the audience, and they stress the event is not just for farmers.
A silent auction to raise money for the Friends of the St. Joe River also is part of the event. The auction will include items such as a guided fishing trip, landscape paintings by local artists, rain barrels, bird houses, local wine/beer packages and a guided rafting trip on Idaho’s Salmon River.
The Friends of the St. Joe River Association is a not-for-profit watershed organization working to unite a diverse group of stakeholders throughout the St. Joseph River Watershed in a collaborative effort to protect, restore, and foster stewardship of the watershed as a critical component of the Great Lakes Basin. 
Before the Friends of the St. Joe River was founded, many communities had their own local groups to clean their stretch of the river. Organizers recognized the need to bring all of these small groups together into one group to work towards the same goal -- a healthy river system. The Friends established a presence within the watershed community by addressing broad-scale issues, including nonpoint source pollution, in a collaborative, strategic manner.
The St. Joseph River Watershed is the third largest watershed of the Lake Michigan basin and is located in the Southwest portion of Michigan and the northern portion of Indiana. 
Those interested in attending the annual event may register here or by calling 574-303-9390. The registration fee is $25 and includes dinner.  
And clothing is required.
Source: Matt Meersman, Friends of the St. Joe River

WMU names medical school for Dr. Homer Stryker

Dr. Homer Stryker kept his focus on what helped patients recover from their illnesses and the innovations he devised were always centered on better health care and better equipment for doctors.

In acknowledgement of those priorities, his granddaughter, Ronda E. Stryker and her husband, William D. Johnston, donated $100 million to launch the Western Michigan University School of Medicine.

The school now has been named in honor of Dr. Homer Stryker, the Kalamazoo orthopaedic surgeon and medical device innovator who founded the Stryker Corp. The medical technology business he grew in Kalamazoo is now a Fortune 500 company with $9 billion in annual sales and more than 25,000 employees globally.  

"The Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine is the ideal name for a school that is being developed around the principle of medical innovation that serves the needs of patients," Western Michigan University President John Dunn says.

The announcement of the naming of the medical school and a commitment from Stryker Corp. to continue to fund the medical school came March 12 from WMU officials and the CEOs of Borgess and Bronson, who are part of the collaboration behind the school of medicine.

A standing ovation came at the announcement.

"Ronda Stryker and Bill Johnston have given our city, state and nation a wonderful gift that honors Homer Stryker in the most appropriate way possible," Dunn says. "Their generosity is allowing our community to create a medical school that will enable generations of young people to make their own marks in the same arena he helped revolutionize."

Founding Dean Hal Jenson says, "Because of the generosity of Ronda Stryker and William Johnston and other donors in the region, we had the opportunity to start with a blank canvas and create the medical school of the future. We did so, recognizing the need for innovative medical education that would allow us to prepare new generations of medical professionals who would be able to follow the exemplary career of Dr. Homer Stryker.

"The medical school we have developed continues the exceptional legacy in Kalamazoo of innovation in the life sciences. Our graduates will continue in the footsteps of Homer Stryker and will excel as clinicians, leaders, educators, advocates and researchers," Jenson says.

Borgess President and CEO Paul A. Spaude says, "Worldwide, the Stryker name evokes a sense of medical innovation and quality. Here in Kalamazoo, it is synonymous with community commitment. What better name for a medical school that is a true community collaboration."

Ronda Stryker and William Johnston were not present for the event, saying they wanted to focus to be on the school.

In a statement from WMU, Ronda Stryker says she feels strongly that this is the right time for the medical school to be launched and her grandfather would appreciate that medical education is being improved in Kalamazoo.

"His innovation work and research was never about himself but always about the patient, better healthcare outcomes, and better equipment for doctors. I am certain he would be thrilled to know that medical education and research are taking place in Kalamazoo," Ronda Stryker says.

"While he wouldn't care that the school was named after him, it is without doubt a fitting and lasting recognition to his contribution to medicine, medical research, innovative products and service to patient healthcare outcomes."

The new medical school will be on its W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus in downtown Kalamazoo. That site will have a 350,000-square-foot medical research facility now undergoing renovation. It is scheduled to open in mid-2014 and the first class of medical students will be enrolled in the fall.

The site was a gift from MPI Research in late 2011. MPI Research is led by William U. Parfet, great grandson of the campus' namesake, who launched the Upjohn Co. in Kalamazoo in 1886.

"Having the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine on the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus acknowledges the special life sciences legacy that is unique to Kalamazoo," says Frank Sardone, president and CEO of Bronson Healthcare. "Both names reflect the storied traditions that are so much a part of this community--traditions we'll want to introduce to new generations of medical professionals."

Riverview Launch gets financial boost

A once blighted property that has been through tax foreclosure is being redeveloped as a green space and place for local activities through the efforts of the Kalamazoo County Land Bank.
The project, known as Riverview Launch, recently received a financial boost with the award of $30,000 from the Consumers Energy Foundation. 
The way that the project revitalizes the neighborhood and incorporates natural resources in a sustainable way led to the grant, says David Mengebier, of Consumers Energy. 
Riverview Launch is being developed to connect urban residents with the Kalamazoo Valley Trail and other natural resources in the neighborhood near the Kalamazoo River. Plans came together after community planning sessions showed residents wanted it to be a place where people could come together learn, play, and work.
In mid-2014 ground will be broken on the project, which entails approximately 9,000 square feet of LEED certified office space, a renovated greenhouse, and the restoration of a historic barn. 
Perry Wolfe, chair of the Riverview Capital Campaign, likened the project to initiatives lsuch as the KVCC Health and Wellness Campus, and the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. "Riverview Launch is part of a greater effort, to promote wellness in a sustainable and community-focused way," Wolfe says.
Plans are that the site ultimately will have community gardens, an interpretive center, and space for youth education and leadership development provided by the MSU Extension 4-H, Junior Master Gardeners, and Open Roads.
"We’re working to build community engagement and support for the Riverview Launch site," says Kelly Clarke, executive director of the Kalamazoo County Land Bank. "Partners like Consumers Energy Foundation help us build momentum to keep pushing this project forward."
Source: Sarah Frame, Kalamazoo County Land Bank

RAD Festival hosts cutting-edge dancers

The Michigan Regional Alternative Dance Festival, also know as RAD Fest, takes to the Wellspring Theater stage March 13-16.
The event is juried and brings to Kalamazoo cutting-edge modern and contemporary dancer from across the Midwest.
“The jury panel really had their work cut out for them when they were choosing the pieces to feature this year," says Festival Coordinator Rachel Miller. "The fact that we have made it to the fifth anniversary of this festival, and it continues to thrive and grow, is very exciting to us here at Wellspring and says so much about our supportive Kalamazoo community. This festival has really put Kalamazoo on the map in the modern dance world.” 
The festival received "an unprecedented amount" of choreographic, improvisational, and Dance for the Camera film submissions from choreographers across the country, Miller says.
Fifty-one dancers and their companies will be in five different concerts -- two evening concerts Friday and Saturday, and a matinee Sunday. 
Each dance concert will feature seven to eight original works by choreographers and improvisational dancers. They come from New York, Chicago, Louisville, Boulder, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Columbus, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and other Midwestern cities.
Festival master classes on Friday and Saturday are open to college, university, post-graduate, professional dancers, and instructors. Classes on Sunday are open to pre-professional, pre-college students, and young dancers--18 and under.
The festival opens March 13 with an invitation-only RAD Fest kick-off event. All other concerts  are open to the public. 

RAD Fest is presented each year by Wellspring Corey Terry & Dancers
The festival features many more events. For a complete list and ticket information, visit here
Source: Rachel Miller, Wellspring

It's a circus for improv teams performing in March

It's March. If the weather shows no sign yet of turning lamb-like that is no excuse to stay holed up inside when there is hot comedy to be found by venturing outdoors.

"Let's be honest with ourselves, things have sucked in Michigan for the last two months," says the artistic director of Kalamazoo's improv team Crawlspace Eviction. "If you miss this show, you're missing out on an opportunity to see the live theater that you haven't been able to get out of your driveway to see for far too long. If people don't see these shows, Spring may never come."

Dann Sytsma is no groundhog, but he can make weather predictions easily as accurate as those of Punxsutawney Phil.

Regardless of the weather, Kalamazoo has the opportunity to enjoy two weekends of improv comedy this month. T&A, Tara Sytsma and Adam Carter, take to the stage at 9 p.m. March 14 and March 15.  Farmers Alley Theatre, 221 Farmers Alley, on the backside of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema building.

T&A present fast-paced, character driven improv comedy and their shows have become increasingly rare, so comedy lovers are encouraged to see them while they can.

At 9 p.m. March 21 and March 22, Crawlspace Eviction goes to the circus. Or something. In a show they call Cirque de Light Savings. They say it's a "high flying, death­-defying improv comedy show that welcomes an extra hour of daylight to this cold, gray winter."

The team typically asks for ideas from the audience loosely based on what appears in this case to be a circus and daylight savings theme.

The intrepid cast includes the bearded man Bannon Backhus, verbal acrobat Brian Duguay, world’s tallest little person Brian Lam, Siamese spouses Dann and Tara Sytsma, and joke juggler Jessica Vitkin.

"The six members that we have right now have been performing for almost three years now of the team's 11 year history. It's an older and wiser team. We're a more professional organization, and we love each other," says Sytsma.

When asked which team member will generate the most laughs for the audience, Sytsma was stumped. "The funniest person on the team ... tough to say. The team has never had anyone named Jeff on it. I feel like if we did, Jeff would be the funniest."

"But seriously," Sytsma says, "t&a are phenomenal. CE is better than ever. It's time to reward yourself and see a show."

Tickets for all shows are $10 and $7 for students. For tickets and information, visit the Crawlspace website here.

Source: Dann Sytsma, Crawlspace Eviction

Young people invited to be part of something big in BIGthink

Art, community and diversity will come together in the creation of a temporary sculpture that will go up on March 31. It's called Together Kalamazoo.

Music, dance and poetry also will be part of the event being pulled together by BIGthink, an arts, education, science and technology collaborative. It is working with the Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relation at Western Michigan University.

Two teams of up to 40 students in grades four through eight will make art for the massive sculpture in two-week creativity workshops.

Students participating in the workshops will be asked questions about themselves in relation to their family, friends, and other people and places they know in the greater Kalamazoo area. In response to those questions, the students will draw and paint images that develop as well as demonstrate their creativity, positive sense of self and appreciation of community.

Throughout the process, they will be supervised and guided by teachers and artists from BIGthink and the Walker Institute.

Participants will both work independently and in teams with artists and educators to develop and demonstrate their creativity, positive sense of self and appreciation of community. Visual art works will be collected at the end of the workshops to be used to build a large-scale sculpture to be installed with other community arts in a grand finale celebration in Bronson Park.

Dr. Timothy Ready, director of the Walker Institute, says the Together Kalamazoo workshops aim to enhance students' understanding of themselves and their community through the arts. Ultimately, he says, the participants will build something creative together while learning more about themselves and their interconnections.

A limited number of seats remain open for the free workshops, all of which take place from 12:45 to 4 p.m. Saturdays in the gymnasium of St. Joseph Parish, 930 Lake St. in Kalamazoo. Registrations are being accepted here for Group A, which will meet March 8 and 22, and for Group B, which will meet March 15 and 29.

BIGthink is a Kalamazoo-based group of artists, teachers, scientists and technologists that has been creating innovative educational experiences through the arts across the United States and around the world for more than 35 years.

Source: Jeanne Baron, Western Michigan University

2013 a good year for economic development in Battle Creek

It was a good year for economic development in Battle Creek in 2013 and Site Selection Magazine took notice.

The publication that calls itself the magazine of corporate real estate strategy and area economic development ranks Battle Creek No. 6 nationally for economic development projects in communities with a population of less than 200,000.

For 2013, Battle Creek had seven projects announced, totaling $345.1 million in capital investment, and the creation of 1,353 new jobs.

The projects include Bleistahl North America, Post Foods, 269 Lofts at the Heritage, TRMI, Inc., Systex Products Corporation, Cosma Casting Michigan, and DENSO Manufacturing Michigan.

Cosma Casting Michigan led the way with 572 jobs and an investment of about $162 million to open an automotive casting components and systems facility.

Denso is investing about $105 million and will add 266 jobs at its manufacturing facility in Battle Creek. The includes 46 professional and skilled trade jobs and 220 manufacturing jobs. It will produce advanced thermal components, including new lines for radiator and condenser products, at the plant in Fort Custer Industrial Park.

Post Foods said it would spend $30 million to consolidate its manufacturing headquarters in Battle Creek., creating 92 jobs, and relocating more than 15 leadership positions there.

Bleistahl North America, which makes valve drive components, is investing $11.5 million to create 58 new jobs in the Fort Custer Industrial Park.

Systex Products Corp., a Denso Corp., told of plans to create 12 jobs.

This is the second straight year Battle Creek has ranked in Site Selection Magazine's Top 10 nationally. In 2012, Battle Creek shared second place for metro populations of less than 200,000. It had 13 projects with $103.7 million in capital investment and 688 new jobs created.

"Battle Creek’s attractive business climate, moderate cost of doing business, workforce and training resources, coupled with a strong community relationship with employers are consistently listed as positive attributes by companies investing in Battle Creek,” says states Karl Dehn, President and CEO of Battle Creek Unlimited.

Source: Alyssa Jones, Battle Creek Unlimited

Bio-Kleen adds screen cleaner to its product line

The last time Second Wave checked in with Bio-Kleen it has just introduced a pair of cleaning product for boats, one that restored fiberglass and another used to buff the fiberglass and apply layers of UV protection.

Now the company that has developed more than 200 biodegradable cleaning products sold under the Bio-Kleen label has added a new one,  Bio-Kleen Screen Kleen. The technological device cleaner joins its line of cleaning products for boats,  RV's, and automobiles.

Screen Kleen cleans expensive marine and RV technology, such as fish finders and GPS navigation units.

Professional bass angler Jonathan VanDam, a native of Southwest Michigan, successfully tested the Screen Kleen throughout the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series.

It also been awarded the “Best New Item” in 2014 from Northern Wholesale Supply.

Screen Kleen works on all types technological devices, sensitive screens, glass and electronics, including cameras, cellphones, sunglasses, eyeglasses, tablets, laptops, HDTVs, LVD, LED, plasma displays, and other electronics.

The cleaner removes fingerprints, water spots, dust and build-up. It creates an anti-static surface without using ammonia or alcohol.

It's non-toxic, biodegradable and made in the USA of products from American ingredients. Screen Kleen is sold in a 4 ounce pump sprayer bottle and comes with a microfiber towel for $12.95.

The company, located at 810 Lake Street, has a group of employees who manufacture at least 15,000 gallons of Bio-Kleen products each day.

Those products are sold through motorcycle, RV, boat and auto parts stores throughout the United States, on the Internet and at the company's Lake Street headquarters. Bio-Kleen products sell  around the world.

Source: Bio-Kleen
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