The State of Michigan has many notable cities, including beautiful college and university towns like Ann Arbor, Lansing, Alma, and Olivet; tourist destinations like Frankenmuth, Bay City, Saugatuck, and Traverse City; and, larger metropolitan areas like Grand Rapids, Troy, Novi, and Royal Oak, among others.
Regardless of all that the state offers, the City of Kalamazoo has always seemed to possess a flair all its own. Although not as large or touristy as some of the cities listed above, Kalamazoo offers business owners a diverse but concentrated population center. Many business owners find that they can do very well by locating a business to the greater Kalamazoo metropolitan area.
Here are 5 reasons to move or expand your business into Kalamazoo.
1. The History. Kalamazoo County holds a historically important part in the rise of 19th century industry. It was the birthplace to many companies that are still familiar today including: Shakespeare Company (fishing gear), Upjohn pharmaceuticals, Checker Cabs, and Gibson Guitars. Over time, the local industries have changed, but the unique character of the city still remains. The homes and office buildings surrounding downtown were built from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, and remind us of Kalamazoo’s prosperity and place in our country’s industrial history. Smaller “mom and pop” stores thrive in the historic downtown Kalamazoo storefronts while developments at the outskirts of town reveal newer retailers and a fair share of scientific research and manufacturing facilities.
2. The Location. Kalamazoo is at the crosshairs of two of Michigan’s busiest highways: US-131 and I-94. It is the midpoint of the drive between Detroit and Chicago. Kalamazoo houses both an Amtrak train and a Greyhound bus stop, and also has an international airport. These factors make Kalamazoo a convenient location to visit, live, and work.
3. The Local Economy. Throughout the 2000s, the Kalamazoo area has consistently been working to better its economic situation. Like many other Midwest manufacturing communities, Kalamazoo found itself facing an economic contraction starting in the 1980s when manufacturing moved from the area, resulting in lower property tax proceeds and eliminating well-paying jobs. By the mid-2000s, the people of the Kalamazoo region were doing something about the situation. When Upjohn Pharmaceutical was bought by Pharmacia then sold to Pfizer all within several years, the community suddenly lost 3,000 or so jobs. However, the net job loss was much lower as the changes spawned a number of new technology companies and the scientists moved from the role of employee to that of entrepreneur. The changes to the economy since the 1980s provide a diversification of business so that no one industry dominates. This diversification was important during the Great Recession as the Kalamazoo area was consistently in a much better position than the rest of the state. The Economic News Release put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on July 30, 2013 showed that the Kalamazoo area has an unemployment rate of 8.0% (not seasonally adjusted) as compared to the State of Michigan overall rate of 9.4%. Not to mention that the job growth is strong. CNN Money alludes to the strong economy and increased opportunities by including Kalamazoo County on its August 12, 2013 list of 25 places Where the Jobs Are.
4. The Education. Higher Education is a priority in Kalamazoo. The community is home to Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Davenport University, of Grand Rapids, also has a campus in Kalamazoo, as do some a number of career college/trade schools. In 2005, there was a huge announcement regarding The Kalamazoo Promise. The Kalamazoo Promise is a perpetual pledge by an anonymous group of individuals to provide free (with certain limits) in-state college tuition to graduates of the Kalamazoo Public School System. More about the Kalamazoo Promise program can be found at www.kalamazoopromise.com.
5. The Cost of Living. Kalamazoo is a very affordable place to live. Multiple online sources refer to Kalamazoo’s cost of living as being well below the national average. Kiplinger’s included Kalamazoo on its tongue-in-cheek “10 Best Cities for Cheapskates” list – specifically calling out the area’s affordable real estate.
These are but a few of the reasons people choose to locate their businesses in Kalamazoo. Whether you are looking for downtown Kalamazoo office space, retail space for lease in nearby Portage, or other commercial space, Plazacorp can help you find the perfect location for your venture.