PROGRESS 2014

Seeking the prize: Battle Creek competes for business, talent
A SPECIAL PUBLICATION OF THE BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER | SUNDAY, MARCH 2, 2014
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Progress
Continues
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At United Way, we believe
that together we can continue
to restore hope and create
transformational change.
Please join the movement.
To learn how you can make
a difference, visit
www.changethestory.org.
LJ-0100266765
I recently wrote an ar-
ticle about the Kellogg Co.
and the decision to take
hundreds of jobs out of
Battle Creek and move
them to Cascade Town-
ship. As an economic de-
velopment practitioner,
the competitiveness of a
community is most impor-
tant. How competitive is
Battle Creek as a loca-
tion?
While I was critical of
the Kellogg Company, I do
not pretend for an instant
that anything takes Battle
Creek off the hook from
its own responsibilities to
provide the best educa-
tion and quality of life it
can possibly generate.
And the only conclusion is
Battle Creek needs to
work much harder and
spend its resources much
more wisely.
Despite the expendi-
tures of millions of dollars
in social programs, educa-
tion programs, communi-
ty involvement programs,
community “change” pro-
grams, and health pro-
grams, it seems like bare-
ly a dent has been made in
the intractable urban
problems that confront
the community. Some peo-
ple cynically claim that
we have a giant charity
machine that benefits
from poor education and
health and for that reason,
we will not manage our
problems.
Thirty years ago, the
watchword for economic
development was “loca-
tion, location, location.” In
today’s world, it is” educa-
tion, education, educa-
tion”. Because there are
four school systems here,
it is difficult to generalize,
but people who look at
Battle Creek may gener-
ally conclude that educa-
tional attainment levels of
systems like Gull Lake
and Portage are superior
to what is offered in Cal-
houn County.
Until the Miller Foun-
dation took matters into
their own hands, Battle
Creek was the only city of
54,000 or more that did not
have a four year institu-
tion of higher learning.
Now the Miller College is
in existence and we wel-
come and hope for the
success of the new presi-
dent, Dr. Evon Walters.
WMU President John
Dunn has manifested an
extraordinary interest in
educational options in
Battle Creek. He recog-
nizes that the College of
Aviation is part of an out-
standing community part-
nership. He appears to be
constantly on the lookout
for programs that will
benefit education in Bat-
tle Creek and be a crucial
part of the WMU mission.
Site selection consult-
ants have taken over the
business of seeking sites
for business. As Battle
Creek is painfully learn-
ing, these companies op-
erate in total secrecy,
their clients unknown un-
til the last possible sec-
ond. Companies choosing
new sites or leaving old
ones often react to com-
petitive pressures and
they disdain the alerting
of their competitors or the
upsetting of their employ-
ees in these searches.
Eighty-five percent of
the site selection searches
begin on the Internet. Sta-
tistical profiles of com-
munities are drawn. Edu-
cational attainment lev-
els, college readiness, and
dropout rates are utilized
to portray a community’s
competitiveness in educa-
tion. All Battle Creek resi-
dents should look at the
“The Coordinating Coun-
cil’s Annual Report Card”
on Battle Creek and Cal-
houn County.
The second factor is a
portrait of the area’s
health. Infant mortality,
low birth weights, obesity,
heart disease, and diabe-
tes are all factors that
make up the composite
view of the community’s
competitiveness in health
care. Again, the profile
can be completed from
data available through the
internet and the commu-
nity has no idea it is being
studied.
Why is education so im-
portant? The employer’s
workforce will be drawn
from the local education
pool and the children of
the employer’s families
will be educated in the lo-
cal educational system.
Why is health care so
important? The employ-
er’s workforce will be
drawn from that local pool
and a community that
shows little effectiveness
in handling the health of
its children is not likely to
produce a world class
competitive workforce.
B.C. has many
competitive advantages
JIM HETTINGER
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
See HETTINGER, Page 15
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As the birthplace of
Kellogg Co., Battle Creek
knows what it means for a
small town to host big
business.
Here, in a city of some
52,000, is the headquar-
ters of a Fortune 200 com-
pany that reported $14.2
million in sales in 2012. It’s
where a strong auto man-
ufacturing hub has creat-
ed hundreds of jobs as of
late but where blight and
poverty persist. It’s
where officials can point
to easy access to an inter-
state highway and close
proximity to major near-
by cities, but its public air-
port is nearly 30 miles
away.
Battle Creek is where a
city can count on a major
corporation’s deep roots
and significant invest-
ments — but not without
many in the community
thinking that its top em-
ployer moving corporate
headquarters is always a
real threat.
That threat was re-
vived this month, as it has
been in the past, after the
company announced it
would be moving some
Battle Creek jobs to the
Grand Rapids area. Kel-
logg, currently undergo-
ing a four-year restructur-
ing program that will cut
its global workforce by 7
percent, announced on
Feb. 13 that it would open
a North America business
services center that
would employ as many as
600 people by 2016.
Cascade Township was
chosen by the company
out of nine potential sites
—including Battle Creek.
Kellogg angers its
hometown
For years, local leaders
and economic developers
have worked to meet Kel-
logg’s requests. In 1982,
elected officials worked
to sway Battle Creek resi-
dents to approve a merger
with the township after
the company threatened
to move headquarters out
of town without the con-
solidation.
In 1999, both local and
state officials worked to
Kellogg Co.’s world headquarters in downtown Battle Creek. AL LASSEN/FOR THE ENQUIRER
Big business
in a small town
When a Fortune 200 company
is based in a city of 52,000
Jennifer Bowman
jbowman@battlecreekenquirer.com
See KELLOGG, Page 13
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What does it take to
compete for jobs in to-
day’s world?
It seems that hardly a
week goes by that I don’t
get asked that question. In
this past week alone, I
have been asked by a tax
attorney, school teacher,
physician and a college
student. The truth is, it
takes the same things it
has always taken: people,
place and product.
People First
Without talented,
skilled and educated peo-
ple, as compared to other
similar or “peer” loca-
tions, communities, states
or nations will not be com-
petitive. It is critical to
note that talent, skills and
education come first be-
fore jobs; they are not a
benefit of jobs. Primary
employers are not in the
education and training
business. For an individ-
ual or a region to be com-
petitive in the job market,
they must have the neces-
sary qualifications to
make them employable.
I recently heard a poli-
tician blaming high unem-
ployment numbers on
company CEOs because
they would not hire people
and educate them on the
job. I am not sure where
this idea came from, but
training people has never
been the job of employers.
We pay taxes for our chil-
dren to be educated and
made ready to enter the
workforce or to attend
college, or both. We sup-
port higher education in-
stitutions to educate our
communities. Trade
unions have for hundreds
of years trained talented
people to excel, but it has
never been the job of pri-
vate sector employers to
prepare people for their
own future, nor, if we real-
ly think about it, would we
want them to.
To be competitive, indi-
viduals must take owner-
ship of their personal edu-
cation and training: we
are all our own human re-
sources department.
Place Matters
Place matters in com-
petitiveness for many
reasons. We need only
look to this year’s list of
fastest growing econo-
mies in the United States
to understand that, to
make this list, your place
better have shale oil un-
der it. Or, look at the
strong, positive correla-
tion with interstate high-
ways and distribution
centers. These are macro
examples that community
leaders cannot do much
about. What we can do is
focus on the micro issues
that are within our con-
trol. We must ensure that
we have the infrastruc-
ture to meet the needs of
both the citizen and the
employer from basic ser-
vices like sewer, water
and safety to new stan-
dards like bike sharing
programs and high capac-
ity internet technology.
Yes, access to the internet
is critical for place-based
competitiveness. There
are communities across
the globe that are provid-
ing wireless internet
“domes” over the entire
city; this is the new stan-
dard. As a site consultant
recently told a communi-
ty we were assisting, “If
you have dial-up service,
you are dead to my cli-
ents.”
Lifestyle is now also in-
frastructure, think hiking
and biking trails, music
venues for indie bands
and arena shows, profes-
sional sports with modern
facilities and shopping. In
a world where online
shopping now dominates
our experiences, consum-
ers are looking for more
authentic micro shop-
ping. If a community is
going to gather people and
their resources, it must
nurture its place.
Product Driven
Finally, it is about prod-
ucts; we have to make
things that are value-add-
ed. And in large part,
these are not low cost,
high volume commodi-
ties. We are blessed that
this has been the basis of
our region’s economy for
150 years. In the past, the
Southwest Michigan Re-
gion has been dominant in
the products of pharma-
ceutical pills, sleds,
stoves, shovels, taxi cabs,
fishing rods, corsets, hos-
pital beds, cereal and
beer, all of which were or
are value-added, design-
focused products. If we
are to compete in the fu-
ture, we must ensure that
we are creating an envi-
ronment where compa-
nies can originate and
grow great products for a
global market. This
means ensuring that we
have an environment
The 3 P’s of competitiveness:
People, Place and Product
RON KITCHENS
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
See KITCHENS, Page 15
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Tax breaks and an at-
tractive community can
only get you so far, John
Coulter said, before a
business turns around and
asks: “What else you got?”
“In this economy and
trying to accomplish
things that we’re trying to
accomplish here in Mar-
shall,” he said, “it’s gotta
be a Herculean effort.
And that’s what we’re do-
ing here.”
Coulter is CEO of the
Marshall Area Economic
Development Alliance, a
one-year-old partnership
between several agencies
that seeks to put the city’s
resources into what he
called a “neat package” to
attract business
prospects and promote
the area.
That’s much of what
economic development
officials do — provide in-
formation to prospects in
an effort to attract more
business.
Karl Dehn, president
and CEO of Battle Creek
Unlimited, said when it
comes to how a prospect is
choosing a region to lo-
cate, the biggest factors
are the cost of doing busi-
ness and the quality of the
local workforce. The first
step for officials: learning
the needs of the employer,
from workforce skills to
proximity of suppliers
and customers. The sec-
ond: determining Battle
Creek’s competitive ad-
vantage and providing ac-
curate data to prospects.
“So really, every com-
pany with whom we talk
with, there’s really a cus-
tomized approach to our
marketing our communi-
ty,” Dehn said.
Marshall tackles
economic
development
When MAEDA formed
in January 2013, officials
said the idea was to pro-
mote Marshall in one
voice. Before the alliance
was formed about a year
ago, the city of Marshall
contracted with Battle
Creek Unlimited for eco-
nomic development ser-
vices. Coulter said like
Battle Creek and south-
west Michigan, Marshall
also has a strong auto
manufacturing base and
MAEDA is working to
find prospects that are
“symbiotic” to its existing
employers.
“This first year, we’ve
been out here executing,”
he said. “My whole team
and I spent yesterday in
Detroit, talking to a Cana-
dian company. So we’re
making some progress.
But the reality is, we’ve
really been trying to fig-
ure out what is the best
strategy and not use the
The gain game
Officials use resources, retention to
compete for business
Jennifer Bowman
jbowman@battlecreekenquirer.com
The Brooks Memorial Fountain and Michigan Avenue in downtown Marshall in 2013. JOHN
GRAP/THE ENQUIRER
John Coulter, CEO of the
Marshall Area Economic
Development Alliance, talks
about the progress and
challenges facing Marshall
and the area.JOHN GRAP/THE
ENQUIRER
See GAINS, Page 11
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biggest factors currently affecting how
they do business.
Bronson Battle Creek Interim CEO
Anne Regling said the ACA will be a
major factor in health care in 2014.
Regling said that families could find
themselves with increased premiums
and co-pays under insurance exchange
plans, which could affect their ability
to pay their hospital bills.
“If you care for a lot of low-income
members of the population, your reim-
On Mansion Street in Marshall, many homes surround Oaklawn Hospital near the Wright Medical Building. JESSIE CARON/FOR THE ENQUIRER
Collaboration
and competition
in local health care
Andy Fitzpatrick
afitzpatrick@battlecreekenquirer.com
Continued on next page
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bursement under federal
and state programs was
supplemented by what
was called an indigent
care pool or a dispropor-
tionate share pool,” Re-
gling said.
According to the
Georgetown University
Health Policy Institute,
those pools will be cut by
$500 million in fiscal year
2014. This is particularly a
problem in states where
Medicaid has not been ex-
panded, although Michi-
gan did so with its Healthy
Michigan plan in 2013.
In Marshall, Oaklawn
Hospital President and
CEO Dr. Ginger Williams
said the public’s attempts
to navigate their way
through the law has meant
an unpredictability in ex-
pected hospital visits.
“We’ve seen months
where we’ve had volumes
more than we expected,
we’ve seen months where
we’ve had volumes less
than we expected,” Wil-
liams said. “I think that re-
lates to the ACA payment
reforms, payment reduc-
tions, sequestrations and
a lot of other things.”
Williams said Oaklawn
has been able to adjust by
changing the number of
people working at a given
time. Nursing, she said, is
good example because
nurses tend to spend the
most time bedside.
“Our nursing staff
meets about every three
to four hours during the
day shift to assess how
many patients are coming
in through the emergency
department that are prob-
ably going to be admitted,
how many are coming
back from surgery, how
many are probably going
to be discharged and in
what time frame,” Wil-
liams said. “We shift staff-
ing up and down several
times during a shift in or-
der to accommodate pa-
tient volume.”
As hospitals adapt to
the changing face of the
business landscape, at
least some of their goals
can be accomplished with
some help.
The Calhoun County
Health Needs Assess-
ment was completed in
2013. For that project,
Oaklawn, Bronson Battle
Creek and Southwest Re-
gional Rehabilitation Cen-
ter worked with eight oth-
er groups and health or-
ganizations to determine
the county’s greatest
medical concerns.
Under the ACA, health
care providers are re-
quired to conduct needs
assessments.
“It’s imperative that
we — I mean the collabo-
rative ‘we’ as health care
providers — look at the
broader picture of what
do the people in our com-
munities need, and what’s
already available, and
where do we play a role in
helping to coordinate that
versus bringing in some-
thing or modifying some-
thing to meet the commu-
nity’s needs,” Williams
said.
Obesity topped the list
as the most important
health concern for Cal-
houn County. To address
that problem, both hospi-
tals said they’re reaching
out to other entities to
combat a growing health
issue.
Those initiatives are
also ways health science
impacts how business is
done.
Oaklawn’s HealthYou
program, done in coordi-
nation with elementary
schools, recently expand-
ed into Albion and gives
kinds information
through entertainment
and science projects that
teach them about healthy
eating and fitness.
Bronson Battle Creek
also has a school program
with the Regional Health
Alliance, the Feelin’ Good
Mileage Club, and works
with the Calhoun County
Public Health Depart-
ment in promoting breast-
feeding awareness.
“There’s actually some
scientific work around
the high correlation be-
tween breastfeeding and
obesity,” Regling said.
Of course, competition
is still necessary as the
Battle Creek area devel-
ops into a meeting ground
of hospital systems.
The local choices for
people needing medical
care are increasing.
In Battle Creek, Kala-
mazoo-based Borgess
Health is building the Bor-
gess Health Park at 3035
Capital Ave. S.W. and will
likely open in the summer.
The Family Health
Center is expanding its
campus at 181 W. Emmett
St. with a new Women’s
Health Center, scheduled
to open in May.
The Battle Creek De-
partment of Public Works
building at 150 S. Kendall
St. just opened CareHere
Health and Wellness Cen-
ter, offering a clinic for
city, county and Toyota
Tsusho America Inc. em-
ployees.
Bronson Battle Creek
has invested in its Bron-
son Battle Creek Outpa-
tient Center - Beckley
Road Urgent Care, 5352
Beckley Road. Oaklawn’s
planning a March opening
for an extension to its
Oaklawn Medical Group -
Beadle Lake office at
14231 Beadle Lake Rd.
Signs for both hospi-
tals, as well as Borgess,
can be found outside doc-
tors’ offices throughout
the city and Calhoun
County as physicians link
up with the larger provid-
ers.
While these diverse op-
tions can draw on differ-
ent populations, there can
also be some overlap of
services. It’s an issue Re-
gling said is probably the
biggest factor in the busi-
ness of hospitals in the
area right now.
“We have a market-
place that from a popula-
tion standpoint is not
growing,” Regling said,
adding that could lead to
lower ACA payments to
hospitals. “The end effect
of that is you’re compet-
ing more with each other
and you’re sometimes
making business deci-
sions to hang on to what
you have to grow your
business at the expense of
other health care provid-
ers in the marketplace.”
Call Andy Fitzpatrick at
966-0697. Follow him on
Twitter: @am_fitzpatrick.
Work continued earlier this year on the future reception
area of the Borgess Health Park, which is scheduled to
open by mid-2014.JOHN GRAP/THE ENQUIRER
“We have a marketplace that … is not
growing. The end effect of that is you’re
competing more with each other.”
ANNE REGLING Bronson Battle Creek Interim CEO
Continued from previous page
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It might be competi-
tion but by another name.
“If you look around in
different jurisdictions
you will see a lot of col-
laboration starting to hap-
pen,” said Battle Creek
Police Department Depu-
ty Chief James Saylor.
“You are seeing it happen
all over. It is not new.”
One person’s collabo-
ration is another’s compe-
tition.
“It was a bid process
and they are all competi-
tions,” Saylor said, refer-
ring to the decision last
year by the Springfield
City Council to close its
police department and
seek services from other
police agencies.
Both Battle Creek and
the Calhoun County Sher-
iff Department presented
proposals and after sever-
al meetings and revised
plans, the council voted to
hire the department of
Sheriff Matt Saxton.
“It was not a competi-
tion,” Saxton said. “I feel
when an entity reaches
out and asks for a service
we reply to a vendor. It
shouldn’t be competitive.
We don’t do our contracts
to make money. Ours are
actual costs. We don’t do it
as a money maker.
“From the outside it
looked like a competition
but internally with us at
least it was not a competi-
tion. It never felt like a
competition. I am not out
looking for a contract but
if a municipality want to
know what it will cost I
will give them the num-
bers.”
As budgets tighten,
governments are expect-
ed to look for ways to save
and while contracting po-
lice services is not new,
some in the Battle Creek
area expect it to continue
and in some cases could
become competitive.
Both Bedford and
Pennfield townships as
well as Springfield have
contracts with other agen-
cies to buy policing.
Bedford Township has
paid Battle Creek for
years for police services
and Pennfield has con-
tracted both with BCPD
and now the sheriff de-
partment.
Pennfield Township
Supervisor Rob Behnke
said he doesn’t consider
seeking services a compe-
tition although he under-
stands that those seeking
the contracts might.
“I don’t see it as a com-
petition,” Behnke said. “It
can be a difference in phi-
losophy about how to pro-
vide services but the ven-
dors may be competing
for those dollars. There
may be competition
among departments.”
He said he saw the dif-
ference between the sher-
iff department and Battle
Creek as different ways
of providing service.
“It was not so much
competition as philosoph-
ical difference,” Behnke
said.
Former Springfield
Manager Frank Peterson
said the bidding process
to provide police services
was a competition when
the council decided to
close the Springfield De-
partment of Public Safety.
“Both agencies knew
we were open to their ser-
vices and we were in a
pretty good spot to have a
competitive opportunity.”
Peterson, now city
manager in Muskegon,
said there was more com-
petition for Springfield
because it was surround-
ed by Battle Creek and the
sheriff department easily
could provide service.
He said a contract with
Homer Village, for exam-
ple, which is discussing a
contract with the sheriff
department, might not be
as competitive because
other departments are not
close enough to provide
services.
Peterson said Spring-
field could use its location
as an advantage in their
bid process.
“Strategically we bid it
out on purpose. It made
sense from a competitive
standpoint to get the best
product and the best price
for our citizens. I think we
got some lower bids and
some better service
plans.”
He said both depart-
ments made adjustments
after seeing proposals
from the other depart-
ment.
Undersheriff Tim
Hurtt said he has seen
consolidation for years
and expects it to continue.
In Springfield he and
Tight budgets create competitive
dynamics for public agencies
Trace Christenson
tchrist@battlecreekenquirer.com
See POLICE, Page 15
“It shouldn’t be competitive. We don’t
do our contracts to make money.
Ours are actual costs. We don’t do it
as a money maker.”
MATT SAXTON Calhoun County sheriff
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In 2008, the business
community made the im-
portance of education in
economics clear for the
Cereal City when a new,
privately funded facility
for the Battle Creek Area
Math & Science Center
was announced as part of
the $85 million downtown
transformation.
In an Enquirer column
last summer, retired Bat-
tle Creek Unlimited chief
Jim Hettinger said the
new center was “the most
visible manifestation” of
an economic initiative fo-
cusing on science, tech-
nology, engineering and
math fields, which are
ever-important to busi-
nesses.
In his column, Hettin-
ger said local schools had
done much to serve a need
for STEM and remain
competitive in the chang-
ing economy. He listed
new STEM initiatives in
Battle Creek Public
Schools and Kellogg Com-
munity College’s “history
of educating for rele-
vance.”
Local educators might
add to Hettinger’s list a
host of other programs,
from robotics clubs at
most local high schools to
a new food science course
at the Calhoun Area Ca-
reer Center. Asked what
made it competitive, KCC
—where enrollment grew
from just over 5,500 stu-
dents in 2003 to 6,251 in
2010 and stood at just over
6,100 students this fall —
touted a host of improve-
ments, from tens of mil-
At schools, the good
and bad of competition
Justin A. Hinkley
jhinkley@battlecreekenquirer.com
Dudley STEM School fourth-grader Jordan Graham, 10,
works on a satellite he made at the Battle Creek Area Math
& Science Center last month. The $14 million Math &
Science Center, built with private donations, is an example
of the importance of education to the local economy and
an example of the way local schools compete
regionally.JOHN GRAP/THE ENQUIRER See SCHOOLS, Page 10
THE EFFECT OF COMPETITION
In the competition for students, schools add new programs and technology that serves
students, but one district’s gain is another district’s loss and that can affect kids, local
educators said. Below is a look at the effect of Schools of Choice enrollment at Battle
Creek schools, as of fall 2012. The enrollment numbers are full-time equivalent students.
Incoming choice
students Outgoing choice students Financial impact
BCPS 118 1,760.62 -$11.6 million
Harper Creek 450.55 153.14 +$2.1 million
Lakeview 857.22 198.53 +$4.7 million
Pennfield 825.08 77.51 +$5.2 million
Source: Michigan Department of Education
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lions of dollars in facilities
improvements to class-
room technology to a re-
cent $2.7 million grant
from the U.S. Department
of Labor to boost job train-
ing.
“We think we are a very
key factor in the local
economy, from several dif-
ferent directions,” said
Dennis Bona, KCC presi-
dent and chairman of the
Battle Creek Educators’
Task Force, a workgroup
of Battle Creek school
leaders.
But the data available
at a quick glance show
there’s work to be done if
schools want to compete
regionally.
The Michigan Depart-
ment of Education’s MI
School Data online dash-
board offers side-by-side
comparisons of the state’s
schools, allowing parents
and potential business in-
vestors to judge schools on
student performance on
standardized tests, on
graduation and dropout
rates, and more.
The dashboard shows
the city’s four traditional
public school districts —
BCPS, Harper Creek Com-
munity Schools, Lakeview
School District and Penn-
field Schools — hold their
own against regional
neighbors — Kalamazoo
Public Schools to the west
and Jackson Public
Schools to the east — but
fall behind statewide
trends.
Bridge Magazine, a
publication of Ann Arbor
think tank the Center for
Michigan, in 2011 began
ranking the state’s schools
not just on their raw stu-
dent performance but on
how well students did
against how well one
might expect them to per-
form, considering student
poverty rates.
Battle Creek schools
are blown out of the water
by their neighbors in
Bridge’s ranking: Penn-
field, our highest-ranking
school, ranked 310th out of
540 schools statewide,
compared to Kalamazoo’s
157th ranking and Jack-
son’s No. 227 slot.
“We’re always trying to
be better, and get better,
and working with any enti-
ty that will help us do that,”
Harper Creek Superinten-
dent John Severson said.
“I think all the city schools
have some programs and
products they can brag
about.”
Bona said it was impor-
tant for schools to do well
not just because they train
future workers, but be-
cause they employ current
workers — collectively,
the four city districts em-
ployed 2,801 people in fall
2012, state data shows —
and buy local products and
services.
Bona and others said
the competition that’s
good for private industry
has mixed results in public
education. Don Wotruba,
deputy director of the
Michigan Association of
School Boards, said com-
petition with neighboring
districts can cause schools
to add programs and tech-
nology that are good for
students, but one district’s
gain is another district’s
loss and that would affect
kids.
In fall 2012, Pennfield
picked up about $5.2 mil-
lion in per-pupil revenue
through Schools of Choice,
according to state data.
But BCPS lost nearly $12
million.
Now, as the state heats
the school competition
with the proliferation of
new virtual and public
charter schools, Bona and
others worried resources
would become too frac-
tured.
“We could eventually
have about 50 schools in
Battle Creek that all even-
tually have three dozen
students going to them,
but what would happen
then?” Bona said. “None of
them would have the re-
sources they need to pro-
vide an education to those
students.”
Call Justin A. Hinkley at
966-0698. Follow him on
Twitter: @JustinHinkley
ARE BATTLE CREEK-AREA SCHOOLS COMPETITIVE?
Depends on how you look at it. Looking at raw student performance data from the Michigan Department of Education, the city’s four traditional public school districts hold their own
against regional neighbors Kalamazoo Public Schools and Jackson Public Schools, but fall behind statewide data.
But looking at rankings from Bridge Magazine — which scores districts not just for how well students perform but how well students perform compared to how well one might expect
them to perform, given student poverty rates — local schools are way behind. In Bridge’s scoring system, a score of 100 means students are doing as well as could be expected. The data
below is from the 2012-13 school year.
Yearly improve-
ments in math and
reading, grades 3-8
Proficient,
math and read-
ing, grades 3-8
Proficient on
MME, all
subjects
Hitting all
ACT bench
marks
Four-year
graduation
rate
Dropout rate Bridge Magazine
value-added score
Bridge Magazine
value-added rank
(out of 540)
BCPS 10% 13.9% 5.3% 5.1% 44.4% 21.5% 97.02 385
Harper Creek 11.8% 31.7% 10.5% 11.5% 91.4% < 5% 94.50 454
Lakeview 14.1% 33.7% 11.2% 11.7% 94.5% < 5% 97.06 383
Pennfield 13.5% 27% 12.1% 12% 91.7% < 5% 98.89 310
Kalamazoo 12.4% 28.1% 13.9% 13% 65.2% 13% 103.17 157
Jackson 8.5% 23.5% 10.7% 13.5% 68.3% 12.9% 101.17 227
Statewide 14.4% 37.8% 17.4% 18.1% 77% 10.5% N/A N/A
Sources: Michigan Department of Education’s MI School Data dashboard, Bridge Magazine
SCHOOLS
Continued from Page 9
Fourth-graders
Nayleisha
Rycraw, 9,
Chanel
Williams, 10,
and Cavanna
VanSycle, 9
build a satellite
at the Battle
Creek Area
Math & Science
Center last
month. JOHN
GRAP/THE
ENQUIRER
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Proud to have managed the
construction of the new campus for
the Battle Creek Area Mathematics
and Science Center for Battle Creek
Public Schools. Congratulations to
BCPS and the area’s finest students.
We hope you love your new facilities
as much as we did building them.
Thank you for allowing us to do so.
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9807 BELLEVUE RD, BATTLE CREEK, MI 49014
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LJ-0100266735
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Progress is about moving in
the right direction.
Western Michigan University has been in Battle Creek for a long time. We’ve
been a part of the city’s progress. Our degrees are relevant and sought after in
the community, so we’re poised to be part of the city’s progress in the future.
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Learn more at wmich.edu/battlecreek.
Battle Creek
shotgun approach, and in-
stead be more laser-like in
our focus.”
The alliance includes
the Marshall Area Cham-
ber of Commerce, the
Marshall Downtown De-
velopment Authority and
Main Street Program, the
Marshall Economic De-
velopment Corp. and the
Local Development Fi-
nance Authority. They re-
main separate entities but
are now housed at a cen-
tralized downtown office.
Officials already know
what the city’s strengths
are, Coulter said: a robust
tourism base and its loca-
tion on an interstate high-
way corridor with access
to major cities and other
states. He said Marshall is
a community that boasts
low crime rates, good
neighborhoods and repu-
table schools. Its officials
are also willing to provide
tax incentives to help
bring businesses — al-
though, Coulter conced-
ed, that’s now considered
a given when competing
for economic develop-
ment.
But for attracting
growth, Marshall’s
strengths may also be its
weaknesses.
“It’s tough,” Coulter
said. “We love being a
town of 7,000 people. We
love that. But 7,000 people
can’t support all the
things we want to do.
That’s why I said the strat-
egy part of this is really
more complex than any-
one could imagine. And
the law of unintended con-
sequences is something
we have to guard against.”
And while Marshall
can tout itself as good
town that people want to
live in, but Coulter said
“there’s hundreds and
hundreds of communities
across this nation of ours
who can say the same
thing.”
“That’s the cost of en-
try,” he said. “There’s so
much of that out there,
that if you don’t have that,
nobody is going to consid-
er you. That’s no longer
enough to get the job
done.”
Coulter said the big-
gest success of MAEDA
so far is its Operation
Community, a volunteer
clearinghouse that has al-
lowed them to tackle the
lack of manpower to push
efforts forward in Mar-
shall. The alliance will
also focus on applying for
grants and continuing its
strategic planning, “turn-
ing over rocks” and mak-
ing a “concerted effort,”
Coulter said.
“When good things
happen in Marshall — and
they are happening in
Marshall and they will
continue to happen in
Marshall,” Coulter said,
“it’s not going to be by
chance.”
Moving past
disappointments
Coulter classified
MAEDA officials as
“change managers” who
are looking to move the
city toward unprecedent-
ed growth.
Still, Marshall has had
its own share of setbacks.
BCU competed to bring a
Volkswagen plant to Mar-
shall some five years ago,
but the German automak-
er opted to build the 2,000-
employee facility in Chat-
tanooga, Tenn.
The company turned
down a hefty incentive
package from Michigan.
But analysts speculated at
the time that the state’s
chances of nabbing the
factory were slim — de-
spite its developed work-
force, it had a history of
labor organizing and
union battles.
In May, the plant an-
nounced it had produced
its 250,000
th
Passat, ac-
cording to the Chattanoo-
ga Times Free Press. Its
workers also recently re-
jected union representa-
tion.
Also, State Farm an-
nounced in late 2003 that
it would be leaving Mar-
shall, taking with it more
than 500 jobs and leaving
a structure that has re-
mained vacant since.
Coulter, a Marshall
area native who previous-
ly worked at Oaklawn
Hospital, called the insur-
ance company’s depar-
ture “a major blow to the
community.” MAEDA has
been working to fill the
building and has helped
“crunch numbers” for in-
terested companies, he
said, but the property is in
poor condition and isn’t
owned by the city.
“An interested party
has arisen,” Coulter said.
“It’s far too early to say
Students from Albion and Marshall working together to
pour the contesnts of a coffee can into another during the
Albion-Marshall Youth Symposium at Starr Commonwealth
in 2013.
GAINS
Continued from Page 5
See GAINS, Page 12
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but there’s interest and
there hadn’t been for
awhile. So we do take it as
a positive sign that some-
one called and we’re going
to everything we can to
fill the building.”
In Battle Creek,
officials focus on
business retention
BCU, the city’s eco-
nomic development arm,
has seen much success in
recent years despite the
economic downturn, lur-
ing in new major employ-
ers that have created hun-
dreds of new jobs in just
the past year.
Dehn said in addition to
being approached by real-
tors and businesses inter-
ested in certain buildings,
BCU also works to net-
work with what he called
multipliers.
“So, it may be an or-
ganization like the Ger-
man-American Chamber
of Commerce,” he said,
“or somebody where you
have one relationship that
could lead you to multiple
relationships or compa-
nies.”
But Dehn said BCU
only focuses about 25 per-
cent of its time on attract-
ing new employers. The
rest is left for retention —
regularly visiting manu-
facturers and downtown
businesses to understand
their needs and identify
their challenges.
“So when there are
those opportunities (for
expansion), we always
want to know that as early
as possible,” Dehn said,
“so we can be more help-
ful in making the Battle
Creek location more com-
petitive when there’s mul-
tiple facilities under con-
sideration.”
Last year, Post Foods
announced a $30 million
investment to expand its
Cliff Street plant and con-
solidate operations from
Modesto, Calif. to Battle
Creek. Denso Manufac-
turing Michigan also un-
derwent an expansion
through a $105 million in-
vestment, adding more
than 200 new jobs.
Dehn said something
BCU is able to tout is the
city’s willingness to ac-
commodate economic de-
velopment, its commis-
sion often unanimously
approving tax breaks and
offering other incentives.
“Battle Creek has a
very good reputation in
that regard,” Dehn said,
“so it’s an area where we
certainly promote the fact
of our history and our con-
sistent approach toward
our companies.”
Something else the city
can tout? “One thing Bat-
tle Creek has is re-
sources,” Dehn said.
Dehn admitted work-
force development is a
challenge nationwide as
manufacturing industry
works on rapidly chang-
ing technology while the
labor market includes
many long-time unem-
ployed job seekers. But in
Battle Creek, officials
have fostered partner-
ships in an effort to pro-
vide the necessary train-
ing for local employees —
including Kellogg Com-
munity College’s Regional
Manufacturing Technol-
ogy Center and the Cal-
houn Area Career Center.
Dehn said the area is also
near state universities
that produce a high num-
ber of engineers.
Dehn said “an abun-
dance of labor” isn’t show-
ing up at employers’ door-
steps, but that the city has
opportunities for busi-
nesses to instead build
their workforce.
“Many of our compa-
nies will tell you, it’s still
very challenging around
the country,” he said.
“And that’s one of the ad-
vantages we tout, that
while it’s challenging ev-
erywhere, we have in-
vested a lot in very good
resources led by our edu-
cational partners.”
Regionalism:
Competitors
become
collaborators
Both Coulter and Dehn
talked of Gov. Rick Sny-
der’s push for regional-
ism, creating a structure
that has encouraged part-
nerships. And while near-
by cities may often find
themselves competing
against each other, offi-
cials say they see perks
when there’s growth in ad-
jacent towns.
Dehn said because
prospects often narrow
their search to regions,
BCU is often competing
with sites in lower Michi-
gan, Indiana and Ohio.
Officials don’t always
collaborate, he said, col-
laboration has increased
in the past five years and
has allowed for new op-
portunities. Dehn said he
sees one of those opportu-
nities in workforce devel-
opment because the city’s
employee pool stretches
beyond Battle Creek and
its surrounding town-
ships.
“We have to continue to
place a much higher prior-
ity on education than we
have traditionally over
the years,” Dehn said.
“We need to be a commu-
nity that’s ready to meet
our existing companies’
needs and be more ready
to be attractive for com-
panies from the outside.
Not to say that we’re not
competitive right now,
but we can’t be compla-
cent and feel like the sta-
tus quo is acceptable.
“If we as a community
want to see incomes rise,
if we want business for-
mation and innovation to
flourish here, that only
happens if we see educa-
tional attainment in-
crease in our community.
And by attainment, I’m
not just talking four-year
college degrees — that’s
part of it, but it’s educa-
tion and training after
high school.”
Call Jennifer Bowman at
966-0589. Follow her on
Twitter: @jenn_bowman
Old Fords followed by new Corvettes rolled through
downtown Marshall Monday. Below, Ken Reddick of the
VFW Post No. 4073 plays taps during the 2013 Memorial
Day parade. Trace Christenson/The Enquirer
GAINS
Continued from Page 11
BY THE NUMBERS
Twelve new property tax abatements were approved by
Battle Creek City Commission last year. No dissenting votes
were cast.
$8,597,194 in tax breaks granted to companies
$86,402,539 planned investment from those companies
480 jobs expected to be created within two years
2,181 jobs expected to be retained
Here is a breakdown of the three largest breaks approved
last year:
1. 25 Michigan Holdings LLC — The Grand Rapids-based
firm, 616 Development, announced last year it plans to
restore the vacant Heritage Tower into residential and
commercial space.
Abatement: $2,886,660 over a 12-year period
Planned investment: $17,650,000
Jobs created in first two years: 20
2. Cosma Casting Michigan — The unit of Canadian
company Magna International is in the process of opening a
facility in the Fort Custer Industrial Park that manufactures
automotive casting components and systems.
Abatement: $2,671,670 over a 12-year period
Planned investment: $14,240,000
Jobs created in first two years: 250
3. Bleistahl North America — The German auto supplier
moved into Battle Creek last year, opening a plant that
makes valve drive components.
Abatement: $741,093 over a 12-year period
Planned investment: $410,745,701
Jobs created in first two years: 33
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LJ-0100266786
Here for
your family
Since 1882
105 Capital Ave., N.E. at North Avenue
Battle Creek, MI 269-962-5527
Augusta Chapel • Richland Chapel
www.farleyestesdowdle.com
create a Renaissance
Zone to try to persuade
Kellogg to bring a new
product to Battle Creek
after shutting down its
South Plant. The city com-
mission also approved ex-
tending a part of that tax-
break zone in 2009 as the
company moved some of
its offices into the Battle
Creek Tower.
What may be one of its
most recent accommoda-
tions, however, is the four-
year Michigan Avenue re-
development project
dubbed the “Downtown
Transformation.” Battle
Creek Unlimited present-
ed a plan to Kellogg to
give downtown a facelift
and create a campus-like
environment for its em-
ployees after Kalamazoo
officials approached the
company with a proposal
to move company head-
quarters there.
So when the company
announced an undeter-
mined number of posi-
tions would be sent to Cas-
cade Township, many
community leaders who
had rallied for Kellogg in
the past jumped up and
cried disrespect. They de-
scribed the move as “dis-
gusting,” “unilateral” and
a “blindside.” What would
have been in the past a de-
cision made after conver-
sations with local offi-
cials, they said, now rep-
resented a vast change in
how the company commu-
nicates with its communi-
ty.
Kellogg officials reaf-
firmed their commitment
to Battle Creek, and as
they’ve reassured locals
in the past, insisted that
there are no plans to move
corporate headquarters.
But the decision to move
jobs to Cascade Township
seemed to show what its
hometown lacked.
Grand Rapids
workforce one-ups
Battle Creek
Kellogg said the Grand
Rapids area was a hub for
similar service centers,
offering a qualified pool
of talent. The company
also pointed to the city’s
affordable commercial
space and proximity to
markets such as Chicago
and Detroit. It did not con-
tact any officials in the
nine potential sites, the
company said, “because
there was little any city
could do to influence suit-
ability of their respective
location.”
After meeting with
Kellogg leaders, local of-
ficials said there were
“differences of opinion”
in the data used to make
the decision. They main-
tained that Battle Creek
would have been well-
suited to house the ser-
vice center.
Still, data shows that
Kent County may have an
advantage when it comes
to Kellogg’s employee
search. Census data re-
ports that in Calhoun
County, nearly 19 percent
of residents have a bache-
lor’s degree or higher.
That’s compared to nearly
31percent in Kent County.
According to the Kala-
mazoo-based W.E. Upjohn
Institute for Employment
Research’s latest busi-
ness outlook, nearly
290,000 people in the
Grand Rapids-Wyoming
metropolitan statistical
area — which includes
Barry, Kent, Montcalm
and Ottawa counties —
work in private services.
The Battle Creek met-
ropolitan statistical area,
which is Calhoun County,
has about 33,000 people in
the private service indus-
try.
Battle Creek’s big K
In a May 2013 article,
the nonprofit New City re-
ported that nearly half of
the top 50 of the Fortune
500 companies are head-
quartered in smaller cit-
ies.
Don Katz, founder and
CEO of Audible.com, told
the nonprofit during an in-
terview that companies
may opt for smaller cities
for lower operating costs.
He said he chose to move
his company to Newark,
N.J., because of its prox-
imity to his home in Mont-
clair.
“There have been stud-
ies of founder-driven cor-
porations that get big, and
they are invariably close
to the founder’s home,”
Katz said.
John Rhodes, senior
principal of the Florida-
based Moran, Stahl &
Boyer wrote in a March
2002 Site Selection article
that his firm’s study found
most Fortune 500 compa-
nies with headquarters in
small cities have resided
in their hometowns from
the founding of the com-
pany — ranging from 22 to
more than 130 years ago.
He said the location in a
small city could pose
problems when recruit-
ing and retaining top tal-
ent. But a smaller town
also offered a less hectic
lifestyle, short commutes
and a stronger sense of
community, Rhodes said
— amenities that could
also prove to be beneficial
when attracting talent.
“Locating a business
operation in a small town
requires careful evalua-
tion, and being a major
player in a small town
brings special responsi-
bilities,” Rhodes said in
his article. “But as many
companies that live in
small towns would con-
firm, they are proud of
their ‘hometowns,’ and
the community and been
part of making them a
success.”
Moving forward
Economic develop-
ment officials have said
the chances to get Kellogg
to reconsider its Grand
Rapids plan are slim, but
they will present data
making the case that Bat-
tle Creek could have
housed the facility.
They will also press
forward in redeveloping
downtown Battle Creek.
616 Development, the de-
velopment firm that plans
to redevelop Heritage
Tower, said Kellogg’s de-
cision will not affect its
project.
Meanwhile, most
downtown business own-
ers who took the brunt of
the redevelopment im-
pact through sluggish
sales and drawn-out con-
struction, will still be
here.
“I feel like the Down-
town Partnership was
promised something and
then cheated at the end,”
said Donnie Fields, owner
of Brownstone Coffee
House. “I do feel that. I
don’t always get along
with them but I think their
intentions are good. I
think what they want is
good. I think they screwed
up by totally obliterating
any help of the small busi-
ness and the mission they
were on, on getting people
living down here. It bit
them — bit us, I guess.”
Fields, whose coffee
shop opened in 2001, said
he has heard promises of
downtown changes since
KELLOGG
Continued from Page 3
See KELLOGG, Page 14
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day one. The recent con-
struction resulted in a
“huge loss of business”
for him — a blow he said
he’s still paying debts
from.
But while Fields com-
mended downtown Battle
Creek’s new look, he said
there is still the need for
residents and more small
businesses.
“It isn’t the chicken be-
fore the egg, which I’ve
heard more than one high-
er-up say,” he said. “It’s
not. If you don’t have the
desire, you’re not going to
have the business. So get a
thousand people living
downtown and you will
see things pop up.”
He added, “What it all
boils down to — I have
faith in my customers to
come in and see me. And
I’m going to take care of
them. You can’t count on
anything else. You have to
take care of the people
that take care of you.”
Eric Kitchen, owner of
the Schlotzsky’s Deli
downtown, said his sales
were down by 20 percent
to 25 percent during con-
struction. But he said he
believes the downtown re-
development will prove to
be successful despite Kel-
logg’s Grand Rapids plan.
“I am optimistic,” he
said. “Kellogg is wonder-
ful for the downtown com-
munity, the whole com-
munity. They’re running a
big international, global
organization, and I think
for a small business to get
involved in their decision-
making probably isn’t ap-
propriate.”
Corey Williams, owner
of Rice’s Shoes, said he
was also optimistic. Wil-
liams said his business
took a major hit during
construction. “People
couldn’t find us,” he said.
Williams said he wor-
ries most about the Kel-
logg employees whose
jobs are affected by the
company’s decision.
“That’s my first
thought,” he said. “You
know, my business, we’re
going to be here regard-
less. I feel bad for them,
they’ve dedicated their
life and they’re here for
that.”
Still, he said, the latest
downtown revamp seems
the most promising.
“Kellogg’s is still
here,” Williams said.
“They’re transferring
some jobs out. Yeah, it’s
disappointing for those
that are involved in that.
But to me, I don’t think the
whole Battle Creek
should shut down just be-
cause of that. They’re still
here. They’re not saying
they’re pulling out their
whole company.”
Call Jennifer Bowman at
966-0589. Follow her on
Twitter: @jenn_bowman
KELLOGG
Continued from Page 13
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Review
other department offi-
cials went to meetings
and listened to the coun-
cil and city leaders
about what they wanted.
“We didn’t go in and
tell them what they
need. You are the cus-
tomer and we ask what
do you want. We asked
the people and devel-
oped a plan. It was like
selling them a car.”
Saylor, the BCPD
deputy chief, said his
department tries to
build a program that a
municipality wants but
said he tries to sell safe-
ty for residents, not a
specific number of pa-
trol cars in a certain
area, for example.
Saylor said consoli-
dation likely will con-
tinue, especially when
agencies are adjacent,
because it makes sense
to taxpayers.
“The larger we grow
we can provide the same
service while reducing
the redundancy. How
many training units do
you need?”
Call it collaboration
or competition, Penn-
field’s Rob Behnke said
he expects to see more.
“It will happen more
often and it is inevita-
ble,” he said. “We may
have to look at the fire
service as well. We have
save a tremendous
amount of money over
the years and I think you
are going to see more of
that in the future.”
Behnke said losing a
police or fire depart-
ment is difficult for the
identity of a municipal-
ity but he sees it as inev-
itable for many.
“I will be difficult but
the dollars will dictate
that we look at consoli-
dation to save dollars
and still have service
that people have come
to expect.”
Call Trace Christenson
at 966-0685. Follow him
on Twitter: @TSChristen-
son
POLICE
Continued from Page 8
Acommunity fiber op-
tic infrastructure is in
place in Battle Creek, the
second city in the state to
accomplish the installa-
tion. When Google execu-
tives were here, three
years ago, they asked for
the data on Battle Creek’s
fiber. They congratulat-
ed us and told us we were
at least eight years ahead
of most American com-
munities.
The fiber opens new
business opportunities
and can facilitate the ac-
cessing of information
important to the re-
searcher. The potential
needs to be spread
throughout the commu-
nity.
I recently asked a fam-
ily who has raised three
children what they liked
about Battle Creek and
why they chose to make a
life here. Their answer is
that they raised three
athletic and scholarly
children. Schools, skat-
ing rinks, Y Center, Full
Blast and a linear park
are all within 10 minutes
of each other — an enor-
mous accumulation of
family oriented facilities
that could not be found
elsewhere. The ease of
access actually strength-
ened their family struc-
ture and enabled them to
function more as a loving
unit. What more could
they ask from a commu-
nity.
People asked why I
chose to stay in Battle
Creek and play out my ca-
reer here. Surely, I must
have had other opportu-
nities. I did, but each
time, I looked at what I
had here—at the most, a
10 minute drive to work;
at the most, a 10 minute
drive to any necessary
outlets; at the most, min-
utes from a river or a
lake. At the most, a 90
minute drive to 20 per-
cent of the world’s fresh-
water supply, and an easy
train ride to Chicago for
unparalleled cultural op-
portunities.
It seems like the West
Michigan media are con-
ditioned to see Battle
Creek as the “weak sis-
ter” in West Michigan,
but it possesses the great-
est and most praised base
conversion process cul-
minating in Fort Custer
Industrial Park. We have
just passed one year
where the “weak sister”
had no murders, a claim
that the other communi-
ties in West Michigan
cannot make. I lived in
the area for 47 years and I
never felt like it was dan-
gerous. This cannot be
said for other West Mich-
igan communities. Look
at where the violent
crime is rampaging. Bat-
tle Creek is not a weak
sister.
I wish that family I
mentioned would make a
video about living in Bat-
tle Creek. It says more
for the community than
the thousand words I
have poured on to this
page.
Jim Hettinger is the chief
provocateur of Urban(e)
development Services and
retired chief executive of
Battle Creek Unlimited.
HETTINGER
Continued from Page 2
where ideas and capital
flow freely, where new
ideas and new people are
embraced and where
costs to operate a cre-
ative, value-added busi-
ness are kept competitive
on a global basis.
Southwest Michigan is
burdened with a glorious
past, but like the dis-
claimer on a financial
services television com-
mercial, past success is
no guarantee of future
performance. The only
way we can ensure our
ability to compete for the
next generation and be-
yond is by investing in
people, place and prod-
uct.
Always Forward.
Ron Kitchens is CEO of
Southwest Michigan First.
KITCHENS
Continued from Page 4
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