Critical Economic Reasons Your Business Should Consider Kalamazoo

The greater Kalamazoo metropolitan area and Southwest Michigan are experiencing a renaissance unlike any other leading area in the State of Michigan.
Existing establishments like Western Michigan University and Southwest Michigan First are capitalizing on the economic health through expansion and job creation while large, emerging businesses like Newell Rubbermaid, General Mills, the “Alamo” cinema, and Arcadia Brewing Company plant their roots downtown and in the surrounding area.
Southwest Michigan, and Kalamazoo specifically, boast opportunity for diverse businesses and individuals seeking a blend of nearby downtown energy, neighboring suburban comfort, and a fiscally sustainable environment, and here’s why:


Unemployment Rates

The urban core of Southwest Michigan is escalating in job creation and economic development and is out-performing the state on the whole.
December 2013 vs. November 2013

  • Kalamazoo: 7.4% (Down from 7.7%)
  • Michigan: 8.4% (Down from 8.8%)
  • United States: 6.7% (Down from 7.0%)

Source: Department of Numbers
Sources suggest reasoning behind having the lowest unemployment statewide may be due to Kalamazoo’s local manufacturing industry, specifically in automobile and paper, and its steady healthcare-related businesses, including Stryker, Pfizer, and two nationally recognized hospitals: Bronson and Borgess.
“The automobile industry is doing well in the Kalamazoo area and what’s left of our paper businesses in the Kalamazoo is doing well,” Kalamazoo-based economist Brian Long said. “You add to that the stable industries like health care — from Stryker to Pfizer to both of the hospitals – that’s one of the reasons we have some of the lowest unemployment in the area.”
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Exclusive Local Incentives

Kalamazoo Promise
In Fall 2005, anonymous donors pledged to provide Kalamazoo Public School graduates free college tuition. This generous group of donors funded this college scholarship program in perpetuity. Recent reports state more than $48 million have been gifted towards an estimated 2,800 students. This scholarship program holds the potential to transform the community in ways, not only to create a strong college-going culture, but also to reach a dramatic upturn in Kalamazoo’s economy and human capital overall.
The New York Times Magazine names the Kalamazoo Promise “the most inclusive, most generous scholarship program in America.”
Business Development 101 and Tax Benefits
Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan convene a wide variety of organizations dedicated to assisting local businesses and industries with redevelopment, financing, tax subsidies, and more. Kalamazoo Community Planning and Development Department, the Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act, and Southwest Michigan First are just a few of the many supporting organizations available.
Michigan’s business tax climate improved significantly in 2013, rising from 49th to 7th place in corporate tax rankings and from 18th to 12th best nationwide! – Tax Foundation, 2013 State Business Tax Climate Index
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Higher Education

Southwest Michigan is thriving in student enrollment numbers owing to Kalamazoo’s reputable universities, colleges, and institutions including: Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and Davenport University of Grand Rapids.
WMU ranks among U.S. News and World Report’s top national universities, acquiring nearly 2,900 employees overall and 24,000 students annually; KVCC is trailing shortly behind with a strong enrollment rate of about 17,000 students annually, estimating nearly 11,000 more undergraduates than the average college or university! Kalamazoo College ranks among the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges. Davenport University of Grand Rapids is notably Michigan’s largest private post-secondary school.
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Progressive Downtown & Local Development

Newell Rubbermaid is consolidating 15 industrial design units across the world into what will become the company’s first global design center, located in Kalamazoo.
Minneapolis-based General Mills is locating a new 155,000 square-foot distribution center in Kalamazoo’s Midlink Business Park.
Western Michigan University’s School of Medicine is undergoing a $68 million renovation and expansion project in downtown Kalamazoo, located in a seven-story 350,000 square-foot educational building that was donated by MPI Research. It is welcoming its first class in Fall 2014.
Battle Creek-based Arcadia Brewing Company is expanding into Kalamazoo with anticipation to “triple its capacity and increase it six-fold”.
The Kalamazoo Alamo Drafthouse, the 16th Alamo Drafthouse to open in the U.S., is building a reputation since its grand opening in late 2013 as a “movie lover’s oasis” for its combining food and drink services, unique programming, and special events.
Redevelopment projects implemented by numerous public and private partners, including Downtown Kalamazoo Inc., Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Southwest Michigan First contribute to the economic growth and foster historic preservation, all while maintaining diverse, safe neighborhoods and good-quality of living in Kalamazoo.
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The Downtown Difference

In the heart of Southwest Michigan, centered amongst Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis, downtown Kalamazoo thrives as the central region of business development, with over 700 businesses employing and nearly 13,000 people downtown – approximately 75,000 citywide – and growing. This lively, innovative urban environment is attracting the youth of America and businesses seeking an engaging, opportune location where they can work, play, and network right down the street.
Over 2,000,000 visitors are drawn to downtown Kalamazoo annually for its eclectic mix of restaurants, shops, galleries, and breweries, alongside ongoing summer festivals and live entertainment. Outside the busy city, residents and visitors can escape to the numerous parks, lakes, and golf courses nearby.
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These are but a few reasons why people choose Southwest Michigan over any other part of Michigan to work, play, and live successfully. People of Southwest Michigan are discovering opportunity now more than ever – economically, socially, and professionally. Maybe it’s the nationwide recognition for our prestigious hospitals, business tax structure, and college scholarship program or the growing number of businesses and shrinking unemployment rates. Whatever the reason, opportunity in Kalamazoo and the greater area is extensive.