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Miller-Davis adds seven to company's team

General Contractor and Construction Manager Miller-Davis Co. has recently added seven new employes. They are five new project superintendents and two project engineers. 

The new project superintendents are George Bogard, Mike Hohnstein, Jim Laughren, Chad Mulder, and Kevin Stoll. Jennifer Cooley an Matt Motolko have been hired as project engineers.

George Bogard has 30 years of experience in the construction industry, and is currently assigned to Hartford Public Schools’ High School Remodeling project, part of the district's 2014 Bond Program.

Mike Hohnstein has more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry. He is now responsible for planning, supervising and monitoring construction activities at the jobsite. Hohnstein earned a bachelor degree in English from Western Michigan University. Hohnstein is currently assigned to the Watervliet Public Schools’ Middle School and High School addition and renovations project, part of the district's 2014 Bond Program.  

Jim Laughren has more than 35 years of experience in the construction industry. He is currently assigned to East Jackson Community Schools’ Secondary School Remodeling project, part of the school district's 2014 Bond Program.

Chad Mulder has 18 years of experience in the construction industry. Mulder is currently assigned to Mattawan Consolidated Schools’ High School Addition project, part of the 2014 Bond Program.  

Kevin Stoll has 15 years of experience in the construction industry and has a bachelor degree in Construction Management from Florida Community College at Jacksonville. He is currently assigned to Mattawan Consolidated Schools’ new Later Elementary School project, part of the 2014 Bond Program.

Jennifer Cooley, Project Engineer, has 15 years of experience in the construction industry. She eared her bachelor degree in Engineering Design from Western Michigan University. She will assist with construction project management and supervision. Cooley is currently assigned to Western Michigan University’s Goldsworth Pond Enhancement project. 

Matt Motolko has five years of experience in the construction industry. As project engineer, he will assist with construction project management and supervision. Motolko earned his bachelor degree in Construction Management from Western Illinois University. He is assigned to the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library Renovation project. 

For more than 100 years, Miller-Davis Company has been providing building and construction management services. 

Source: Miller-Davis Company

Four new employees join Wightman and Associates, Inc.

The civil engineering, architectural, and survey firm Wightman & Associates, Inc. recently welcomed four professionals to its team. 
Elisabeth (Lisa) Borre of St. Joseph has joined the WAI leadership team as director of human resources. Borre brings 10 years of human resource expertise to the company, most recently working for FITCH/WPP, a global architecture and design firm, as human resource leader in its North American division. She holds an MBA from Loyola University, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Resources and Society from Michigan State University, and SHRM-SCP and HRCI-CA certifications.
Jeffrey Clay of Portage, has been hired as survey crew chief, working out of the WAI Portage office. Clay recently relocated to the area from Fresno, California. Clay is a recent graduate of California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geomatics Engineering. He is an experienced survey technician with background in boundary surveys, ALTA/ACSM surveys, topographic surveys, and construction staking.
Mike Moser of St. Joseph joins the WAI Benton Harbor office as an Engineering CAD technician drafter. He brings nearly 20 years of design and construction experience to his role with the company and  earned an Associate of Industrial Design degree from Lake Michigan College.
Andrew Rudd of Kalamazoo has joined the WAI Portage office as an engineer in training. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Western Michigan University with a major in civil engineering. His background includes design, GIS, and surveying experience with the Michigan Department of Transportation, and engineering design in the utility industry.
Wightman & Associates, Inc. has been serving Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana since 1946 with offices in Benton Harbor, Portage, and Allegan.

Source: Wightman & Associates, Inc.

Music Hop opens spaces for musicians in downtown Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo’s first Music Hop started with a handful of questions. The big one: Can Kalamazoo become the music center of the North?

Will Alderman has a dream that the city can make this a reality. And Music Hop--an event that he anticipates will act as a catalyst for growth of the music scene in Kalamazoo--was born of that dream. 

Alderman, raised in Plainwell, grew up in the local music scene, went to WMU for his undergraduate degree in music performance and earned his masters in in music performance from Ithaca College. About a year ago, he and a friend, Kyle Gulau, were talking over the state of the music industry in the United States. Given that Kalamazoo is home to a renowned music school at Western Michigan University, that there are countless local venues where musicians can take the stage, and a deeply rooted music scene here, the two concluded given the right conditions it’s possible that Kalamazoo could be the next Nashville.

They next identified what kind of event would attract musicians and an audience of music lovers. For them, it was lots of performance venues, both traditional ones, like restaurants or bars, and non-traditional, anywhere else, as Alderman says. Other elements were quality talent, including a variety of genres, and multiple groups performing at the same time. They saw it as a free, small music festival in downtown that takes place once a month. Music Hop.

They started working out the details and shortly thereafter created a website. The event started taking shape.

For the April 22 debut, Alderman has pulled together 12 acts in nine different locations: Bell Book and Canto, Matthew Borr, Shelagh Brown, The Copacetics, Megan Dooley, The Groove, Keith Hall's Homecookin', Kalamazoo Sax Quartet, The Northern Fires, Yolonda Lavender, Charlie Mench, and Steve Pesch will perform in venues across downtown Kalamazoo. 

Venues are Overneath, City Hall, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Mangia Mangia, Olde Peninsula, Harvey’s on the Mall, First Congregational Church and various artists will be at the Black Arts & Cultural Center. The full schedule is here.

Another first for the evening will be a Food Truck Rally from 10:30 to midnight between Church and Rose streets. Participating food trucks are: Twisted Tail BBQ, Singhcruisincuisine, The Sangria Shop, Crepes by the Lakes, Salt-N-Pepper Catering, Bomba's, Sloppy's Food Truck & CateringOl' Moose BBQ, Gorilla Gourmet, The Chunky Dunk and the The Organic Gypsy. The pop up event will feature artisans, booths, and music.

There will be performances from 6 p.m. to midnight. Plans are for Music Hop to repeat the third Friday of each month.

“We're using the first hop as a proof of concept,” Alderman says. “We want to make sure it works and work out the kinks for future hops.” His vision is to introduce the community to the wide variety of genres that are performed locally, from classical, folk, punk, grunge, metal, blues, and more.

Sure lots of people come downtown for Art Hop, but will they show up for a hop dedicated to music, too? 

“I think Kalamazoo could and should be packed every weekend,” Alderman says. “It's such a great city with so many little shops, restaurants, and breweries. So, hopefully, this event will help promote those spaces, and further the downtown scene.”

Musicians have already indicated to Alderman that they are interested in participating in the future. There is no charge to attend Music Hop performances, though musicians will have tip jars on prominent display and will have CDs and merchandise for sale.

“We're hoping to promote the already fantastic music scene, and make Kalamazoo a music hub in the North,” Alderman says. 

Source: Will Alderman, Music Hop Kalamazoo

Public to see inside Bronson Healthy Living Campus at open house

The community is invited to see what has grown as a result of the partnership between Bronson Healthcare, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and Kalamazoo Valley Community College

An open house is set for 2-5 p.m. Sunday, April 24 so the community can view three buildings that are part of the new Bronson Healthy Living Campus.

The three organizations decided to work together in May 2013. Since then a 14-acre campus with state-of-the art buildings and unique educational programs that bring together health, food, environmental sustainability, and economic and community development has gone up. 

At the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Food Innovation Center,  224 E. Crosstown Parkway, visitors will be able to see the live wall in the visitors’ center covered with plants. Tiny sprouts of microgreens--radishes, cabbage, kale, cilantro and basil will offer a glimpse of what’s will be growing there. The grow room will house hydroponic and aquaponic growing systems, and a space-saving, vertically stacked growing rack system that’s popular in dense urban areas.

In the Culinary/Allied Health Building at 418 East Walnut Street, visitors will be able to create their own “healthy plate” and learn more about diet and nutrition in the Community Education Kitchen. Full access will available to modern "simulation" labs on the third floor and visitors will see what it is like to learn in a teaching brewery on the second floor. Kalamazoo Valley’s Menus That Matter curriculum in Culinary Arts and Sustainable Food Systems also will be on display.

The campus will be the new home to KVCC’s healthcare programs that include Nursing, Respiratory Care Practitioner, and Emergency Medical Technology. This new location provides a closer link to Bronson for clinical rotations and to Western Michigan University’s Homer Stryker, M.D. School of Medicine and KCMHSAS Integrated Clinic.

Other activities scheduled to celebrate the campus opening include “Tasting Kalamazoo History: Favorite Dishes and Recipes from Our Rich Midwestern Heritage” at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum from 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Shuttles will be available between all three buildings on the Bronson Healthy Living Campus and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum on April 24.

For more information visit here

Source: Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Dogs and big cats on their way to the Binder Park Zoo

The Binder Park Zoo is one giant step closer to its African Lion exhibit. The zoo broke ground Wednesday, April 20 on the exhibit. 

At the same time, the zoo announced a new African Painted Dog exhibit will be built across from the African Lion exhibit. 

The groundbreaking is the culmination of a $3 million capital campaign--Lions, Tortoise & Bears...Oh My! that got under way in June 2014. 

The newly announced African Painted Dog exhibit was not part of the original capital campaign. It is made possible through a gift by Frank Zanettti and John and Ann Zanetti in memory of Frank's son and John's and Anne's nephew, Andrew.

Construction on the new lion exhibit will begin in the spring of 2016 and the new exhibit will open in 2017. It will have a grassy meadow and water hole that will bring to mind the African plains. Lions will be able to shelter under a rock formation or perch on it. 

At a close up viewing station that will resemble an African home, visitors will see the lions through a glass wall. 

"The lion and dog exhibits will share an animal holding building and a transfer chute system," zoo officials say. "While the two species will never come in direct contact with each other and will travel through the chute at separate times, the shared building and transfer chute system will allow keepers to swap the two species between exhibits. This swapping of exhibits will offer both species an excellent enrichment opportunity, allowing them to experience new sites and smells."  

The African lion is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN Red List). Once common in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe, the lion remains only in remote places in Africa and India. Major threats include reduction of the lion’s habitat and wild prey, causing the lion to seek alternative food sources on cattle ranches. The lion is then shot or poisoned in retaliation by ranchers, according to zoo officials.  

Once common in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe, the lion remains only in remote places in Africa and India.The lion is a protected species with numbers diminishing from 400,000 in the 1950’s down to an estimated 47,000 today. The addition of lions at Binder Park Zoo will provide the Zoo with an important platform to inform guests about the urgent need to preserve this species. 

Binder Park Zoo is located outside of Battle Creek and sits on 433 acres of natural forests and wetlands. It serves over 50,000 people annually in 15 different types of education programs and participates in conservation of wildlife and natural habitats on five continents. A total of 8 million people have visited the zoo since it was established in 1975.

Diane Thompson, Binder Park Zoo President and CEO, says, “Although we continue to raise funds, the outpouring of support has been wonderful. Thank you to everyone who has supported this project.  This project will positively impact our regional community for generations to come.”

Source: Binder Park Zoo

Magical Memories opens doors in new location

"We don't just decorate, we transform." That's the motto for the events planning business the recently celebrated a grand opening in its new location in Orchards Mall in Benton Harbor.

Owner Apollonia Ellis says the mall recently came under new ownership and rents there reduced to the point where it became attractive for her business, Magical Memories Wedding and Event Planning. The new location allows space to display various aspects of the business such as its balloon artistry, which customers could not see in the business' previous location.

Ellis has been creating special events for people for many years and as more people asked her to help with their events she decided it was time to turn fulfilling those requests into a business. "It's been my passion forever," Ellis says. 

She decided to become a certified event planner through Sheffield College and turned to the Women's Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance to get the help she needed for her business to grow. 

Ellis got into event planning in 2010 and says it now has now taken off as a successful enterprise. She says the logistics and paperwork she needed for the business to expand all came together thanks to the Cornerstone Alliance. "I would not be where I am today without them," Ellis says.

When asked if there is a type of event she specializes in Ellis says she like creating all of them. Balloon artistry and unique centerpieces are two specialties of her business. Her decorations are custom made, one-of-kind, not found in other stores.

Ellis says when she takes on an event she likes to brainstorm the possibilities. "I like to see how far I can take it." And though she says she is not an artist, some have praised her artistic abilities when they have seen the results she brings about. An example is a baby shower with a heaven theme. Feathered wings from the ceiling and fabric representing the streets of gold from the heavenly realm.  

Magical Memories also can help those who don't need an event planner, but who do need rentals items such as linens, chair covers, and more.

Today, she has a single employee in the about 1,500 square feet. "It's perfect and I think I'm going to be here for awhile."

But not forever. Her plan is to purchase her own building where she can host events. "That's my ultimate dream."

Source: Apollonia Ellis, Magical Memories Wedding and Event Planning

Kalamazoo Community Foundation adds community investment manager

Sholanna Lewis has joined Kalamazoo Community Foundation as a community investment manager. 

She previously was center manager at Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College. Before working at Kalamazoo College she was an events coordinator and administrative assistant. 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology from University of Southern California and a master’s in public administration from Western Michigan University.

Source: Kalamazoo Community Foundation

St. Joe County's largest job fair coming up in April

More than 50 area employers will take part in the largest job fair in St. Joseph County, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, April 21,  at Glen Oaks Community College. It will be in the gymnasium at 62249 Shimmel Rd., in Centreville.

Job seekers will have the opportunity to meet representatives of local businesses to learn about and apply for positions that are currently open. 

"Businesses participating in the Job Fair either have current openings or anticipate openings," says Paul Aivars, director of business outreach and services for Glen Oaks Community College. "Employers may be planning on filling one position or multiple positions which may be full-time or part-time, and they could be permanent, temporary and/or seasonal."

A list of participating employers for the job fair can be found  under the Business and Industry/Job Fair tabs here. The job fair is free and open to the public.

There will be a workshop before the job fair from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, April 19 in the Dresser Business Development Auditorium on the Glen Oaks Campus. The workshop is designed to help job seekers prepare for the job fair. Participants will receive tips for navigating the event and advice on developing a sales pitch in addition to fine tuning their soft skills, says Aivars.

Each of those who attend the workshop will receive a $25 voucher for interview clothing that can be used at Goodwill, Salvation Army or Building Hope Store.

The event is made possible through a partnership between Michigan Works Southwest, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Glen Oaks Community College.

Source: Glen Oaks Community College

O-A-K hires new employee in Kalamazoo

Mike Hoeksema has been hired as project superintendent for  Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. in Kalamazoo.

Hoeksema comes to O-A-K after 21 years of construction experience that includes 10 years owning and operating his own construction company, Mike Hoeksema Construction LLC. 

He says his decision to join O-A-K was based on the company’s longstanding reputation as a leader in the construction industry and the opportunity to oversee significant projects across Southwest Michigan. He is a licensed residential builder in the State of Michigan.

The company has also added two employees to its Grand Rapids office. Hugh MacLachlan, project superintendent, and  Shawn Schrotenboer, Architectural Technician.

Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. is a full-service construction management firm, celebrating 125 years of business in West Michigan.

Source: Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.

Two new employees join AVB

AVB has recently added a new CAD Drafter and a Residential Construction Assistant to its staff. 

Amy Tohulka is the new CAD Drafter. She has past experience as an Architectural Designer at RSI Homes in Newport, California, and as a CAD designer with Weiss Homes in South Bend, Indiana .She will use her skills with auto CAD to aid AVB in its residential design and construction.  

Tohulka earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in computer graphics technology from Purdue University with a specialization in construction graphics. 

Roger Thompson is the company's new Residential Construction Assistant. 

Thompson has previous teamwork experience, especially in many home construction processes. Thompson's former home construction experience will be beneficial at AVB as he assists the residential project teams with building homes.

AVB has been building in Southwest Michigan since 1981. AVB’s commercial division focuses on construction management in the healthcare, education, office, industrial, municipal, and retail markets.  

AVB’s custom residential building division specializes in single-family homes, condominiums and neighborhoods.  AVB’s development group focuses on property development for commercial, residential, and mixed uses.

Source: AVB

Watermark Brewing Co. gets approval to help it move forward

The Watermark Brewing Co. in Stevensville plans to open in May, 2016 and it just got a financial boost for the processing portion of its brewing facility.

Watermark Brewing Co. plans to brew and serve craft beers, including IPAs, sour barrel-aged beers, Belgian-style brew, and others. Its initial investment for the business is $530,000 and will create 15 jobs. 

Construction is now underway on Watermark's 5,200-square-foot building, which will house the brewing area as well as the tasting section where patrons can enjoy crafted beers.

The Stevensville Village Council recently approved a 12-year tax abatement of the brewery's $205,500 investment in the processing portion of their brewery at 5781 St. Joseph Ave.

"This approval from the Stevensville Village Council puts us that much closer to opening the Watermark Brewing Company," says Chris Mason, CEO of Watermark Brewing Company.

Cathy Tilley, Business Development Manager from Cornerstone Alliance, says her organization has been working with Watermark Brewing Co. since 2015 on the new brewery. "It’s great to see their plans come to fruition."

Source: Cornerstone Alliance

Pero Family Foods Co. grows in Benton Harbor Township

When Pero Family Farms Food Co. made the transition in 2015 from cold-storage distribution center to a fresh-cut-vegetable facility its sales grew. 

Now it is undertaking an 8,320-foot expansion of its facility at 2130 Yore Ave. in Benton Harbor Township. The expansion will allow Pero Family Farms to increase its production.

The company says it will be creating 74 new jobs over a three period and is able to retain 50 existing jobs, making them full time from seasonal.

Its expansion project is expected to begin in March and be completed by October of 2016. 

The company recently received a 12-year tax abatement for the expansion project from the Benton Charter Township Board of Trustees. 

Alfonso Chavez, General Manager, of Pero Family Farms Food Company’s facility in Michigan, and Cathy Tilley, Business Development Manager of Cornerstone Alliance, presented the project to the township March 1.

“We are delighted with the growth Pero Family Farms is experiencing,” says Tilley. The Cornerstone Alliance Business Development team has worked with Pero since 2015 as it converted its distribution center to a fresh cut vegetable facility.

Pero Family Farms Food Company, LLC, founded in 1908, is family-owned sales, marketing, and distribution company. It is part of the agricultural corporation headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida, and has additional locations in Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania. 

Source: Cornerstone Alliance

First National Bank of Michigan hires Henry Ziolkowski

Henry Ziolkowski has joined First National Bank of Michigan as a Consumer Loan Underwriter.

He has 20 years of banking experience, including extensive knowledge in consumer lending, loan underwriting and processing. 

“Henry’s experience in the industry and knowledge in consumer lending will provide our customers with the best possible experience," says Carol Ludlow, Vice President, Loan Operations.

First National Bank of Michigan is a locally owned bank with locations in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Portage. Deposits stay in these West Michigan communities to fund loans, and decisions are made locally by experienced bankers committed to helping individuals and businesses grow.

Source: First National Bank of Michigan

Kalamazoo Career Fair to feature more than 70 employers

Bronson Healthcare, Borgess Health, Gun Lake Casino, and Stryker are among the more than 70 employers at the Kalamazoo Career Fair set for noon to 4 p.m. March 23 at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Texas Township Campus.

Employers will be at booths where they will have information regarding employment opportunities. The afternoon event will give students and community job seekers an opportunity to meet face-to-face with area employers.

Job seekers who attend the Career Fair should bring copies of their resumes, dress for success, and be prepared to meet with potential employers. 

In 2015 more than more than 700 job seekers turned out to learn about regional job opportunities.

A full list of employers who will be at the Kalamazoo Career Fair can be found here.

The Kalamazoo Gazette/Advance Internet/M-Live is the event sponsor.

Source: Kalamazoo Valley Community College

St. Joseph welcomes new TCC store

Verizon premium wireless retailer TCC recently opened a new store at 2015 Niles Road, in St. Joseph.

The new store is designed to be a destination for guests who want a hands-on experience with new wireless devices. The store offers special interactivity for those shopping for wireless devices, accessories, and more. 

At its Feb. 26 grand opening and ribbon cutting event, TCC announced a $500 donation to the  Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan, Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor and Child and Family Services of Southwest Michigan.

"We’re excited to welcome the St. Joseph community to their newest local wireless store,” says Scott Moorehead, CEO of TCC. “Shopping at TCC provides customers the opportunity to receive exemplary customer service from our expert staff."

Founded in 1991, TCC is the largest Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer in the U.S., operating more than 700 locations in 38 states from coast to coast. In addition to contributing monetary donations, employees volunteer their time to help address the greatest needs of local organizations as part of the company's Culture of Good movement.

Source: Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce

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