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TODA expands warehouse, production space in Battle Creek

TODA America has outgrown the space it built four years ago in the Fort Custer Industrial Park. Now it is expanding on the east and west ends of the building.

TODA will add 14,000 square feet in warehouse and production space at 4750 W. Dickman Road. The expansion is slated to be finished by the spring 2015. By the end of 2015 the company expects to be at full production, producing approximately 4,000 tons per year of high quality cathode materials.

The company expects to add full-time employees once the addition is complete.

The company manufactures lithium-ion cathode material, used in power tools, computers, wind power projects, energy storage systems, though it is primarily known for its use in cars.

“We do not make the actual battery--our facility produces the material that goes into the positive end of the battery,” says plant manager Jose Garrido.

“Our product is custom made for our customers” says senior engineering manager Yoshi Narabayashi. “Because their needs are sophisticated, the timeline from product development to delivery is much longer than the traditional manufacturing processes.”  

TODA has worked with its customers to identify the direction the company needs to go.  “Our product portfolio is 40 percent automotive, 60 percent energy storage systems  including windmills, telecommunications and solar panels,” Narabayashi says.

Battle Creek Unlimited marketing director Doug Voshell has worked with TODA America since the Japanese company first began its search for their investment in the United States in 2009. He says TODA has found a pool of qualified candidates working with MiWORKS and will take advantage of the Skilled Trades Training Fund which will include training at Kellogg Community College’s Regional Manufacturing Technology Center to will provide ongoing professional development for TODA employees.

TODA is not the only business that is growing in the Fort Custer Industrial Park. Battle Creek Unlimited, the economic development organization serving the Battle Creek area reports another 45 companies have expanded in the Fort Custer Industrial Park since 2009, including five new companies with total investment approaching $400 million.

Source: Doug Voshell, Battle Creek Unlimited

Healthcare organization chooses central location in downtown Battle Creek

Community HealthCare Connections and Nursing Clinic of Battle Creek has a new home in downtown Battle Creek at 62 East Michigan.

The healthcare organization that helps those who might otherwise go without such services, purchased the building and will occupy the roughly 13,000-square-foot building located near Division Street.

A capital campaign and private investment provided the funds to purchase the newly renovated building.

Community HealthCare Connections has existed as an organization since 2009, when it was formed from the merger of the Nursing Clinic of Battle Creek and the Calhoun Health Plan. The organization employs a staff of 19. It provides a prescription drug access program, a volunteer dental services program, assistance in understanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and a health assistance fund. Dental and other physician services are available.

"After 26 years in operation, the Nursing Clinic of Battle Creek finally has its own home – a remarkable place where volunteers take care of those in need," says Samantha Pearl, executive director for Community HealthCare Connection.  

Previously the organizations served clients from the Toeller Building and an adjacent building. "Our new location also makes us more visible and more easily accessible to those who are working but still without affordable health access--a population that might not know there’s help available for them," Pearl says.

"Our new location distinguishes us as a nonprofit organization – a place where the work of hundreds of volunteers is coordinated to make health services available to people who would otherwise go without,"  says Samantha Pearl, executive director for Community HealthCare Connection. "

Rob Peterson, Battle Creek Unlimited’s Downtown Development Director, says: "We’re glad Community Healthcare Connections understands the value of locating downtown: Its central location, the amenities available for employees, and the ability to become more ingrained in the fabric of Battle Creek. They’ve picked a beautiful building that we hope will serve them well for years to come."

Source: Battle Creek Unlimited

Prairie fens to be purchased to help save butterfly and rattlesnake

As the canary warned coal miners that poisonous gas was reaching dangerous levels, the Mitchell's satyr butterfly warns about the quality of drinking water today.

Now, the Mitchell’s satyr butterfly is on the brink of extinction, but measures are being taken to bring it back with a $180,000 matching grant to purchase critical habitat.

SWMLC, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, will buy three parcels of land at two sites- the Coldwater Fen Complex in Branch County and the Spring Brook Fen Complex in Kalamazoo County--together totalling 60 acres that have suitable fen habitat for the Mitchell’s satyr butterfly.

The Coldwater Fen Complex is home to the world's second largest population of Mitchell’s satyr butterflies. SWMLC will also purchase a parcel within the Spring Brook Fen Complex, which historically supported Mitchell’s satyr butterflies and currently supports Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes.

The habitats the endangered Mitchell’s satyr and the threatened Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake thrive in--prairie fens--are at risk. A prairie fen is an alkaline, spring-fed wetland. This unusual type of wetland is fast disappearing.

There are less than 15 Mitchell’s satyr sites left in the world, and Michigan is the only state left were Massasaugas are regularly found, since they’ve been almost eradicated from the Midwest.

Prairie fens host one of the greatest variety of plants and animals of any habitat, so protecting them is critical for species beyond the Mitchell’s satyr and the  Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake.

"These habitats have a disproportionate amount of plant and animal diversity for their size," says Nate Fuller, SWMLC conservation and stewardship director. "For every Mitchell’s satyr, I’ll see 30 Baltimore checkerspots and dozens of other butterflies. I’m finding rare turtles, salamanders, warblers, thrushes, orchids, wildflowers, and all sorts of extraordinary things."

SWMLC and the MDNR are members of the Mitchell’s Satyr Working Group, which has created a recovery plan to save Mitchell’s satyrs from extinction.

The goal of the recovery plan is to build populations to a level where the satyrs can eventually be removed from the endangered species list. But simply saving the places where they exist isn’t enough, SWMLC officials say.

"We need to find new places for them to live," says Fuller. "This matching grant will enable SWMLC to triple the size of our current preserve by buying contiguous satyr habitat, allowing us to manage the second largest population in the world. We are working with partners in the hope that this site can act as a source population for future introductions to new sites."

Fuller says, "Reintroduction efforts are just beginning, and we have a lot to learn. But I’m more optimistic about the Mitchell’s satyr recovery than I’ve been in a long time."

Source: Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy

JLN Studio moves business to St. Joseph

The the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce, the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, Bridgman Chamber and Economic Growth Alliance, New Buffalo Business Association and Business Networking International are just a few of the clients JLN Studio has worked with.

Owner Julie Nitz specializes in marketing and graphic design. Her business helps organizations brand their business and marketing by improving their visual brand. She works with both established and new businesses.

Logo designs, print, social media and web design are all part of creating the visual image JLN Studio helps customers create.
Creating business cards, banners, signs, posters, and photography. She also creates, hosts and updates websites for customers.

Art classes for all ages are available upon request.

She has a degree in graphic design from Southwestern Michigan College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with a Minor in Photography from Western Michigan University. She opened JLN Studio in September 2011. She recently celebrated the relocation of her business to St. Joseph. Her new location is at 4143 Grandwood Circle.

"I take special care in listening to your vision and working with you to convey the philosophy of your business to your targeted market," Nitz says. "My company goes above and beyond to provide an excellent value and the best customer experience with prompt, reliable service."

Source: Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce

WMU's Business, Technology, Research Park prepares for next phase of development

Now that Business, Technology, and Research Park on Western Michigan University's Parkview Campus is full, plans are moving forward to develop what has historically been called the Colony Farms property.

Robert Miller, Associate Vice President for community outreach for WMU, offered a look back at the history of the development of the BTR Park recently and talked about what lies ahead as part of a Mercantile Bank of Michigan Breakfast Series event hosted by WMU’s Haworth College of Business.

The BTR Park is located on WMU’s 265-acre Parkview Campus, which also is the home of WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It came about as a way to generate tax base for the community and now offers an opportunity for companies that want to be located on the campus of a major research university.

To date, the BTR Park has 42 companies, eight of which have built their own facilities. It is the workplace for 700 people and through its economic impact it has created 800 indirect jobs. The Park also creates opportunities for WMU students to do get real world experience working at companies there.

"Part of the concept is creating an excellent culture of internships," MIller said. "This is experiential learning."

Miller told the group that the BTR Park was planned to help the community make the transition from its position as a home for Big Pharma. As Upjohn sold to Pharmacia, which in turn sold to Pfizer, which went on to downsize, leaders in the community realized they needed a plan, that small, nimble biotech companies were beginning to get traction in the economy, and that with the right facilities Kalamazoo could be part of that economic shift.

The Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, an integral part of the BTR Park and now home to 18 companies, was getting ready to open just as Pfizer was announcing in 2003 that it was leaving Kalamazoo. As a result, 800 PhD research scientists now had the choice whether to stay in Kalamazoo or move to another Pfizer location.

"We could go to outgoing Pfizer scientists and say, if you think you would like to start a business, we have a place for you and equipment you can use," Miller said. Pfizer donated millions of dollars worth of equipment to SMIC. "Some great scientists took us up on this opportunity," Miller said.

The BTR Park is dedicated to businesses with a focus in advance engineering, life sciences, information technology or a combination of the three. All 42 companies in the BTR Park have at least one of those areas as a function of what they do, Miller told the full house at the early morning gathering. "There are no donut shops," Miller said. It also was developed with high standards of ecologic preservation.

In 2014, with the development of the Newell Rubbermaid design center, the BTR Park is now at capacity and its tenancy has been stable for 14 years.

So now the university is working with the Oshtemo Township Planning Board to work out plans for the property to the northwest of the BTR Park where there is about 39 to 45 acres that can be developed. The property has been zoned Business, Technology and Research Park.

"We've worked closely with the neighbors and the township to make sure plans are palatable for everybody," Miller said.

Miller could offer no timeline for development of the property as there currently is not yet a way to finance the roads, water and sewer necessary for the property. They could cost about $4 million.

In the larger BTR Park development that infrastructure was paid for in part through the establishment of a SMART Zone that earmarks taxes collected from a specific area for such construction. More than $7 million has been collected there and has gone to pay off the cost of infrastructure.

"We've been working quietly behind the scenes with the Township and Southwest Michigan First," Miller said. "We're reluctant to say when we will break ground since we have to solve the funding of infrastructure issue."

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source:  Mercantile Bank of Michigan Breakfast Series event

Upscale consignment boutique plans grand opening in Stevensville

Share in Joys sells refurbished home decor and antiques but if it's dinged, bumped, or cracked it's not going to find a space in the store, "unless it's the shabby style people like," says new owner Sharon Peden.

On Nov. 1 she opened Share In Joy in a 950-square foot space at 2250 W. John Beers Road in Stevensville.

"The reception since the store opened has been really good. I'm pleased," she says.

Customers have been particularly taken with the cozy atmosphere Peden has created Share In Joys. Peden says one customer told her she comes and just sits in the parking lot, looking in at the warm surroundings she has put together.

Peden has always had a passion for antiques as well as setting up unique and eye-catching displays and now she has the space in which to do it. She accepts consignments and customers have noticed that some items for sale in the store are moving quickly. Peden's daughter is also looking in the Chicago area for items to sell at Share In Joys.

Home decor items that include antiques from the 1800s to retro furniture from the 1960s and 1970s are among those customers will find. "It will be good quality, not anything chipped or cracked."

She also soon will begin selling vintage clothing after the holidays.

The store is Peden's first retail venture, though she learned the business many years ago when she herself was a frequent shopper of a similar store. At the time, the owner taught her about the business.

That was a couple of careers ago, though. Peden went on to work in education. Now that she is of retirement age--and her husband will be retired from his position as superintendent of schools in Mona Shores at the end of 2014--she says with a laugh that instead of taking it easy she is working harder than she has ever worked in her life. "We joke about it. I could be sitting with my feet up and taking it easy. But I love this. I am meeting so many interesting people."

She was not looking for a storefront when she found the space in Stevensville. Instead, she was headed to the Purple Door Resale Shop when she saw the space for lease and decided to go for it.

She got the help she needed with the fine details of opening a new business from the Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance. Establishing her federal I.D. number and filling out various applications all went more smoothly with assistance from the center.

Publicity in various local outlets, such as Moody on the Market and the Herald Palladium also have brought in customers "from the get go," Peden says.

Peden will celebrate her new business start-up with a grand opening from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6. A project Peden has been working on will be raffled off during the grand opening.  

Share in Joys is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Peden also accepts consignments by appointment.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Sharon Peden, Share In Joys

Angelo's third location opens in Texas Corners

For the past six to seven years, Patrick Barnhart's customers at his Portage Road restaurant have been telling him he needed to open another location in Texas Corners.

Turns out they were right. Since he opened Angelo's Italian Eatery at 6997 West Q Ave, at the corner of Q Avenue and 8th Street there has been plenty of demand for his grinders and pizzas.

Eventually he hopes to be able to add the pasta and soups that provides the diversity to the menu that customers have come to expect at his two other locations. The size of the kitchen at the Texas Corner's location means it will be awhile until that happens.

Meanwhile, "We're selling lots of pizza," Barnhart says.

In mid-November, the restaurant opened in the 2,000-square foot space that was the former location of Asiago's. The restaurant has five employees--two full-time and three part-time. That brings the total number of employees for the company to 16.

These days, Barnhart is spending 99 percent of the hours the new restaurant is open at the Texas Corners location as he works to sort out the logistics unique to his third restaurant.

Currently the newest Angelo's is open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday as Barnhart looks for the right employees to staff the restaurant for lunch. Friday and Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Sunday. "I'm trying to find adequate lunch help. After the holidays things may change."

It also could be spring before the right employees are found, Barnhart adds.

Barnhart expects the restaurant eventually will have largely the same menu as that in the other two locations. "We have a winning formula so we're not going to mess with it too much," he says.

Angelo's is known for its gourmet pizzas, 25 different grinders, and the business prides itself on making its own sauces, breads, and pizza dough. Gluten free pizza and grinders are available.

Though the decor of the previous restaurant is largely unchanged, Barnhart is on the lookout for a number of tables that will seat families and larger groups.

Angelo's Italian Eatery also has locations at 5401 Portage Road and 3320 Ravine Road. Call 269.312.800 for the Texas Corners location. Angelo's is also on Facebook.

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Patrick Barnhart, Angelo's Italian Eatery

Gilden Woods to open new preschool in early 2015

A growing demand for early education and preschool programs is behind the opening of a new Gilden Woods, the second in Kalamazoo. An early 2015 opening is planned for the school, which recently celebrated a ground breaking at its 4620 Arboretum Parkway location.

The new school will employ a total of 30 to 40 teachers, caregivers, and directors, and have an enrollment of up to 168 children.

The new state-of-the-art facility in Kalamazoo will provide infant and toddler care, full- and half-day preschool, and before- and after-school care.

Gilden Woods is related to AppleTree Learning Center, which are corporate partners, according to a press release from the company. There are currently 14 AppleTree Laerning Centers  in West Michigan.

AppleTree says its teachers develop lesson plans and use assessment results to guide their instruction and activities. Each classroom lesson plan is available online to parents of enrolled students. Lesson plans contain fun, challenging, and safe learning experiences for children.

The school's curriculum emphasizes language development and literacy skills. For this reason, AppleTree has designed its own language and literacy program. This supports other curriculum areas that are taught. It begins in the infant classrooms and continues as children progress through AppleTree.  

The school's "great set for school" program incorporates child-friendly teaching strategies, such as using music and movement to bring lessons to life.

For school aged children, fun, educational spring break, winter holiday, and summer day camps will also be offered.

Transportation is provided to and from several local schools. Another feature is secure AppleCam internet access is always available so parents can "visit" their child anytime during the day from their computer or smartphone.

“As a Kalamazoo resident and AppleTree owner in Otsego, I am very excited to bring our high quality, educational child care and preschool program to area families,” says Kalamazoo Owner-operator Julia Buckham.

For more information, check here.

Source: Gilden Woods

One Well Brewing, Kalamazoo's newest brewery, is a community project

One well: It's a phrase meaning we all drink from the same source, we are all part of the same community.

It's also the perfect name for Kalamazoo's newest brewery, a company very much built on the foundation set by the community of breweries that came before it.

"Michigan is one of the greatest states in the country for craft beer. It's been huge. We've seen what's been done," says TJ Waldofsky, co-owner of One Well Brewing. "We've seen other breweries pop up and we see what they're doing...we look to them, see them as inspiration."

Waldofsky and co-owner Chris O'Neill are also inspired by all the hard work and support thrown their way by fellow craft beer drinkers, friends, and relatives.

"The name is representative of how we built and did everything ourselves, and if we didn't know how to do something we found friends and family who did," Waldofsky says. "We don't want to disappoint anyone who helped us get to where we are now. It's been such a community effort."

Since its grand opening on Friday, Nov. 28 Waldofsky and O'Neill hope to take a stable of five beers and build on a legacy of history and community spirit while also literally brewing on the foundation set by a past member of the local industry--Sunset Boulevard Brewing Co.

Now defunct, Sunset Boulvard operated from January to July of 2012 out of the space at 4213 Portage Street currently occupied by One Well.

"It was perfect from the brewing side of things, the hoods, the floor drain, tile floor, the foundation was all in place. That was super helpful," Waldofsky says.

Of course, Sunset Boulevard patrons will barely recognize the interior of the new brewery as the front of house has completely changed, going from the California influenced lounge-like setting of its previous tenant to a DIY esthetic of reclaimed wood, and antique furnishings built and brought in by One Well.

"We think we have a lot of things here that will bring people in to just relax and hang out," Waldofsky says. "We have real dart boards, a pool table, a huge collection of board games, the mug club so people can feel like their drinking at home, a piano; if you want to come down and play and entertain people … Oh yeah, and we have arcade games too."

Waldofsky, whose background is in business management and events coordination, and O'Neill, who handles the brewing side of things, pride themselves on teamwork and communication and hope their ability to cooperate and bring different expertise to the table reflects in the atmosphere at the brewery.

"We'll have a projection screen for watching some of the games, but we don't want to be a sports bar," Waldofsky says. "We want people to come down and be able to strike up a conversation with the person next to them."

That conversation, to start with at least, will probably be over a pint of one of five staple beers: an IPA, a hoppy wheat, an American style blonde, a brown and a jalapeno infused blonde. All of which will be brewed on site in the company's three barrel system.

A soft opening on Saturday, Nov. 22 was a success and Waldofsky expects the 99 seat brew house to be pretty lively during the first couple weeks of business.

"We want to be the community micro brewery but we're also right off the highway, so that should bring in business as well. Our primary business will come from the Milwood neighborhood, but we also hope to get on the brewery tours that are popping up," Waldfosky says.

Jeremy Martin is the craft brew writer for Southwest Michigan's Second Wave.

UPDATE: Housing Resources Inc. exceeds goal to find Homes for the Holidays

It is a big idea: Place 80 families that expected to be homeless over the holidays in permanent, stable housing. It would take $50,000 or $625 per family to do it.

Already, that goal set in October by Housing Resources Inc. has been exceeded, with $88,923 donated so far. To date 35 families have a Home for the Holiday and the effort is on track to find homes for 80 families.

The announcement by Michelle Davis, executive director of Housing Resources Inc., that 80 families will be in housing by year's end came at a reception sponsored by Art Van in conjunction with National Hunger and Homeless Awareness week.

The drive to find funds to house families in time for the holidays got off to a fast start with a $20,000 donation from the charitable organization Women Who Care. Art Van donated $2,500.

"No family should be homeless any time, especially during the holidays," says Davis. "We had 18 children in our family shelter last Christmas. We’re determined to make that number zero this year."

Because the community responded so strongly, Davis says Project Home For The Holidays will expand its scope to serve more people.

Each family’s situation is unique, requiring considerable time and effort by HRI staff to determine a family’s housing options, she says. Despite the challenges, HRI expects to meet that goal.

HRI provides programs and services that ensure safe, permanent housing for the homeless and stabilize housing for vulnerable individuals and families. HRI also works with area landlords and tenants in an attempt to forestall homelessness.
Its assistance includes a shelter for families with children, Eleanor House.

"Our supporters have shown tremendous commitment to our belief that shelters are a process, not a destination. The only solution to homelessness is housing," Davis says. "If the community will continue to support this project, we can place more families in homes of their own and get them out of homelessness in winter." 

Project Home for the Holidays supporters are encouraged to show they've taken action by cutting out a snowflake that reads #KzooHome4Holidays and post it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and tag Housing Resources Inc. There will be a modest prize for the first 500 who demonstrate they have posted a snowflake picture by sending by email a link to their post here.  

Donations to Project Home For The Holidays can be made in these ways:

• By check to Housing Resources Inc., 420 E Alcott St, Kalamazoo, MI 49001. Please note "Project Home For The Holidays" on the memo line.

• Online by clicking on "Make a Donation" here.

Source: Rick Chambers, Rick Chambers and Associates

Pictured: Michelle Davis, executive director of HRI, announces progress to date on Project Home For The Holidays during a reception on Nov. 19. With her is Kailynn Mejeur, 8, of Parchment, who raised $101 for the project by selling hand-made paper snowflakes with candy bars.

Perrigo hires two new employees

Carlee Roeber has joined Perrigo Co. as Trade Compliance Analyst for the company's Global Compliance Team and  Sam DeMarco is a new Regulatory Affairs Project Manager for the company. Both will work in Allegan.

Roeber will gather information to file annual reconciliations for Perrigo entities as part of her new responsibilities.

Roeber started at Perrigo in December 2012 as a treasury intern in the finance department. There she generated and analyzed a weekly global liquidity forecast that supported managerial decisions.She also managed some banking and reporting activities for the company and trained the department's new intern.

Roeber majored in accounting and finance and graduated from Grand Valley State University. She is from Shelby Township and currently lives in Grand Rapids.

DeMarco will be responsible for regulatory filings for Abbreviated New Drug Application/New Drug Application products. DeMarco started with Perrigo as a regulatory affairs intern. He went on to work at Perrigo as a regulatory affairs specialist through Manpowe.

DeMarco graduated from Michigan State University in May 2014 with a major in human biology and a minor in economics. He is from Grand Haven and now lives in Holland.

Source: Perrigo Co.

Cell Tower Academy is latest offering from KVCC

At Kalamazoo Valley Community College one of their areas of expertise is preparing graduates for jobs in areas where employers have jobs to fill. Cell tower technician is one of those jobs and that training is the ninth and the latest in the school's roster of training academies.

Cell tower technicians climb the face of telecommunications and cellular towers to install, test, maintain, repair and remove a variety of radio frequency and antenna equipment. KVCC says there now is a critical shortage of cell tower technicians and demand is expected to remain high for the next six to 10 years.

“There is a great need for this type of focused, comprehensive and formal training in the cellular tower industry in addition to the individual contractors, manufacturers and industry associations who provide training today," says Mary Carter, development director and co-owner of Newkirk Electric.

The industry is looking for people who have an interest in working at heights, have the ability to travel extensively and are dedicated to a safe working environment.

To help meet that demand, KVCC is launching the Cell Tower Technician Academy, beginning March 10, 2015. The six-week class meets Monday through Friday at the Groves Campus. The $3,200 registration fee includes a tool set valued at $1,400 that graduates will take with them when they leave the program.

Experienced tower technicians earn on average about $20 to $23 per hour and entry-level technicians earn an average of $13 to $16 to start.

Industry employers who are eager to hire graduates, including representatives from Newkirk Electric, an electrical construction and engineering firm headquartered in Muskegon, gave input about the curriculum, Newkirk  also donated a cell tower that will be used for training in the Academy.

A screening process is conducted before trainees are accepted into the academy. To make sure the Academy is a good fit for applicants, they will have a chance to climb a cell tower before being admitted to the course. Applicants also will be required to pass a math assessment before acceptance into the program.

"Skilled tower technicians have excellent job security and are competitively recruited by companies who provide services to the telecom industry," says Elizabeth Lyons, director of career academies for Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Source: Dawn Kemp, Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Kalamazoo Community Foundation's former space now for rent downtown

Office space totaling 129,780 square feet is now for rent on the third floor of the Comerica Building in downtown Kalamazoo.

Until recently, the offices were the home of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, which has moved to 402 E. Michigan Ave.

The offices for lease are right across from Bronson Park and provide easy access to restaurants, retail, hotels, parking and the Kalamazoo County Courthouse.

The Foundation is looking for a tenant to sublease the property so the funds now going to rent can be redirected to the community. 
The property is leasing for $1.17 a square foot or $16,790 per month. The space also can be divided.

The space comes with large conference rooms, several executive offices, a large open area for cubicles or work stations.

Overall, vacancies in office space in downtown Kalamazoo are running at about 20 percent, according to data from 2013.

Those seeking more information regarding the property should contact Karen Vandenboss  or Trent Wieringa.  

The Kalamazoo Community Foundation recently moved into the building donated by John Stryker's Arcus Foundation. It came with a one-time grant of $1 million to cover the cost of renovations and moving.

The former railway passenger and warehouse depot on the corner of East Michigan Avenue and Pitcher Street, was built in 1874. Arcus founder and President Jon Stryker, a Kalamazoo native, purchased it in 2003 and went on to bring about award-winning renovations to the depot, creating 10,000 square feet of offices for the Arcus Foundation and other nonprofit agencies.

The Kalamazoo Foundation has been conducting open houses and tours through the new office since moving into its new space.

Source: Kalamazoo Community Foundation

Mobile dog groomer comes off the road, settles in Stevensville

After 11 years on the road, Diana Cotter was ready for a fixed location for her business. Downtown Pet Grooming opened its doors Nov. 1 at 5720 St. Joseph Ave. in downtown Stevensville.

After earning her grooming certification in 2006, Cotter went into business with a mobile grooming van. As her business grew she was able to buy a better van and expand the region she served. Eleven years later she is ready to settle her business in one place and chose the 450-square-foot space that came with an $8,500.00 investment.

She made the move with the assistance of the Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance.

She says last year's winter weather and the volatility of gas prices were two of the determining factors in her decision to take her business off the road. She also wants the option of more time with her own four dogs--two mini dachshunds, a black lab mix, and a chocolate lab mix.  

Many of her previous customers now come to her, though those the farthest away are making other arrangements for dog grooming.

Cotter says the fact that she only grooms one dog at a time is something that many dog owners appreciate, especially if their dog might not like crossing the path of another canine.

"I don't take more than one dog at a time like some groomers do," Cotter says. "It's way too chaotic."

A full day for her would be taking in four to five dogs, most getting a full grooming that lasts about 90 minutes. "With my service you get everything," Cotter says. "I don't charge a la carte."

She provides a package of canine grooming that includes nail clipping, haircuts, shampooing and more. And she wants customers to know their dogs will be groomed in a sanitary, safe, and loving environment.

Downtown Pet Grooming is open Tuesday through Saturday by appointment only.

Source: Diana Cotter, Downtown Pet Grooming

Downtown Three Rivers gets ready for Christmas

Three Rivers community members have put in an estimated 250 volunteer hours creating decorations and making preparations for the holiday season in the downtown where they hope families and individuals will create new traditions during four weekends of special events.

“We’ve been working diligently with many of the downtown business owners to make this a warm and inviting experience for families and children, and also encouraging shopping local and supporting downtown Three Rivers this holiday season," says Brian Persky, Downtown Development Authority/Michigan Mainstreet executive director.

They've given the holiday celebration the theme "Miracle on Main Street." The holiday festivities are a collaborative effort by the Three Rivers DDA/Main Street program, City of Three Rivers, and the Three Rivers Merchant Group.

"The Magic Begins" with Christmas Around Town weekend on Friday, Nov. 28 through Sunday, Nov. 30. Festivities start at 6:15 p.m. at the Mural Mall with a tree lighting ceremony. There will be Christmas caroling, a book reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Mayor Tom Lowry, and hot chocolate provided by Love Your Mother. This year's tree is donated by a disabled American veteran.

And those are just the events of the first weekend. The following week is themed "The Magic Continues," next is "The Magic of Memories" and the season wraps up with "Last Minute Magic." A full schedule of events to draw people to the downtown throughout the holiday season are planned and can be seen here and here.  

Heather Martell, the designated project manager for Christmas Around Town, and member of the Main Street Promotions Committee, says:
"There is truly something for everyone, and every age group over these holiday weekend celebrations. It’s a wonderful time to enjoy the spirit of Christmas, while enjoying and discovering all that downtown has to offer."

Source: Brian Persky, DDA/MMS
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