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Fare Games offers incentives for food business to locate in Washington Square

What does it take to open a food-based business? How about a deal on the rent for three years in a highly visible location, pro-bono legal counsel, and free interior design services. Would an accountant, marketing, and a cleaning service at no cost help?

The winner of Fare Games will be eligible for those services and more if they decide to apply for the chance to locate in the Washington Square neighborhood in Kalamazoo.

The 1,356-square-foot property at 1301 Portage Street is a key historic property in Washington Square that originally was built to be a bank and has been a drug store and an insurance company. The building still has the high ceilings and historical moldings.  

Finding an occupant for the vacant space is the next step in a process that started three years ago when the Kalamazoo County Land Bank began working with partners to revitalize the historic commercial hub of Washington Square at the heart of Kalamazoo's Edison neighborhood.

New and existing businesses, including a guitar shop, dance studio, and sub sandwich business have located in the once-vacant commercial suites on this block. The one remaining vacant space in Washington Square, 1301 Portage Street, is undergoing renovations in preparation for its next life as a restaurant or other food business.

Fare Games, sponsored by the Kalamazoo County Land Bank, aims to attract a food-based tenant into that space. That could be a restaurant, caterer or food production business. The Fare Games committee is targeting businesses in Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, however, those from across the state are welcome to apply.

"We would like to drive traffic to Washington Square as well as engage the community," says Kelly Clarke, executive director of the Land Bank. "We understand that there are different types of food-based businesses and we want to have the competition be as broad as possible so we're keeping the door open to folks who have revenue streams from catering or other means."

If the winning business is not a traditional restaurant the applicant will be asked to demonstrate how it will be engaged in the community. Clarke suggested as an example that they could offer cooking classes or a sit-down area where tea and scones are served to show they will be part of the local community.

The Fare Games committee, formed to oversee the process, says it prefers a business that can show it will provide one or more of the following: unique, healthy and locally-sourced menu options; sit-down dining options; offerings that will draw traffic to Washington Square; assist in efforts to promote Washington Square as a safe and vibrant place for business; have an element of workforce development or community engagement; and create links between the new and existing businesses in Washington Square.

Applications are due Aug. 19, however, food-business applicants are asked to submit a letter of interest by July 15. Those who apply will be asked to be part of a community tasting of their food at the Aug. 5 Washington Square Art Hop.

The Michigan Small Business Development Center, PNC, Chase and Fifth Third are offering coaching services to those who apply. They will receive a review of their business plan and suggestions on their application.

Fare Games is modeled after Iowa's Best Bites, a similar competition that has launched three restaurants. A Land Bank board member heard of the program, suggested it, and Clarke says there has been a lot of energy around it. 

It is too early to tell what kind of response there will be to the request for proposals, but there already has been interest from the food truck community, Clarke says. Food trucks are known to be a place where some brick and mortar restaurants get their start.

“Fare Games,” says committee chair Becky Fulgoni, "is a way to get the community excited about the possibilities for this historic space and to support a talented food entrepreneur with incentives that make it possible to overcome some of the barriers that often prevent people from launching or growing a new business."

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Kelly Clarke, Kalamazoo County Land Bank

 

New Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union Branch plans fall opening at Corner@Drake

A new, full-service credit union Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union branch is expected to be ready for members by the fall of 2016.

Ground has broken on the new branch at 1650 South Drake Road in Kalamazoo, in the Corner@Drake development. It will be in the same development at Stadium Drive and Drake Road with retailers Costco and Field & Stream are located and represents and geographical expansion for the Battle Creek-based credit union.

“KCFCU is growing, and we believe this area will be a perfect location for us to expand our services," says Tracy Miller, CEO of Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union. “We are proud to be a part of this great community and look forward to serving existing members as well as new members and businesses.”

In addition to service by tellers, the branch will offer members loans, mortgages, investment services, and commercial accounts including lending. It will have a 24 hour ATM, drive through, and night depository services. 

Partners for the project include AVB. Joe Gesmundo, AVB Principal says  Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union has designed a building that will “enhance the aesthetic fabric that will help create the sense of place we are driving for with the Corner@Drake development.”  

KCFCU serves more than 36,000 members through 10 branches in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Portage, Galesburg, Three Rivers, and Marshall. It is a is a full-service financial institution with more than $479 million in assets.
 
Source: Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union

Photos Courtesy KCFCU

Architectural rendering of new Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union Branch at the Corner@Drake.

Pictured from left to right are: Curt Aardema-AVB Development Director, Ryan Vlietstra-AVB Commercial Superintendent, Mike Ogrin-KCFCU CFO, Tracy Miller-KCFCU CEO, Linda Williams-KCFCU CDO, Greg Dobson- AVB Principal and COO, Derek Mathieu-AVB Commercial Project Manager, Joe Gesmundo- AVB Principal, Daryl Rynd-AVB Principal, and Tom Fritz-AVB CFO.
 

Offices to be incubator space for businesses in Battle Creek

Dale Pitchure has finished the renovations and expansion of CherryPointe Offices & Suites, 71 S. 20th St., Battle Creek and he’s ready to show them to the community.

There are 26 individual offices and suites that Pitchure plans to offer at a rate that makes them affordable for business start-ups--starting at $199 a month. The project is intended to serve and encourage the growth of area businesses.

Renovations included new ceilings, electrical, carpeting, paint, trim, and doors, with new furnishings and decor throughout. Each office also comes with its own  4’ x 5’ window, providing plenty of natural lighting. The development also offers a commons area, professional conference room, and staff break room and ample parking.

CherryPointe has  optional two, three, and four office suites and features secure Wi-Fi for a small upcharge. Pitchure believes new businesses also will benefit from the location of the offices, five minutes from I-94 highway and close to Ft. Custer Industrial Park. 

There will be a ribbon cutting celebration for the project at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 24. 

“With affordable rent, we can provide space for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in a professional, relaxing, and modern environment,” says Pitchure, President and founder of the CherryPointe complex.

“There’s nothing like this dedicated to the incubator concept in Battle Creek,” Pitchure adds. Pitchure says he feels inspired by this group of entrepreneurs: “I’m learning from them every day, and am glad I can contribute to their growth while enhancing our community in return.”

Sources: CherryPointe Offices & Suites, a division Annex Investments, LLC, and Greenstreet Marketing
 

The Farmers Market is open, so it's almost time for Farmers Night Market

When the best parts of a festival, farmers market, and a food truck rally come together it must be the Farmers Night Market in Kalamazoo.

Night Markets at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market will be from 6 to 10 p.m. June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, and Sept. 15. 

At the opening of the Night Market, on June 16, Zion Lion presents live music to entertain market goers.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses and other market items will be for sale. Beer and wine sales will benefit local food incubator the Can-Do Kitchen, which recently obtained its nonprofit status. There will also be a bike valet.

And for those who find four night markets are just not enough, this year a fifth Night Market at the Ballpark is scheduled for July 14 at the Mayors Riverfront Park. The evening will feature vendors and a wide variety of foods and artisan goods on the Growlers baseball field. The event is a collaboration with the Kalamazoo Growlers baseball team. 

Many vendors at the Night Markets accept SNAP benefits. There also are many produce vendors who accept Double Up Food Bucks, a program that matches SNAP Bridge Card purchases of Michigan-grown fruit and vegetables dollar-for-dollar. This season, vendors are accepting WIC Project FRESH and Market FRESH Coupons. Local farmers sell more produce and low-income shoppers can afford to buy more produce than they would have through the Food Bucks program.

On the June 16 Night Market opener, People’s Food Co-op also will have its annual meeting. PFC has been building a locally-focused food community since 1970. It has nearly 3,000 member-owners who have invested in the business. 

Source: People’s Food Co-op

South-central Michigan bank spreads West with new branch in Portage

Coldwater-based Southern Michigan Bank & Trust (SMB&T) has extended its southwestern reach with a new Portage branch -- the first newly constructed LEED-certified bank branch in southwestern Michigan, the bank says.

Now open at 531 W. Kilgore (next to Lowe’s and Earth Fare at the corner of Westnedge and Kilgore), the Portage branch joins SMB&T’s roster of locations across the south-central Michigan area, including offices and branches in Coldwater Battle Creek, Camden, Centreville, Constantine, Hillsdale, Marshall, Mendon, Tekonsha, Three Rivers and Union City.

A grand opening celebration for the Portage branch is scheduled for Fri., May 20, from 3-6 p.m. 

The new branch office is part of a development project led by Roger Hinman and Hinman Companies, and the 2,805-square-foot building was designed and constructed to meet LEED certification requirements (green building standards), the bank says.

Cammy Fleckenstein, formerly of Fifth Third Bank, serves as branch manager of the new Portage location.

Eric Anglin, first vice president of retail banking services and chief deposit officer, says the Portage branch eventually will employ six workers. In addition to Fleckenstein, “we have two full-time Universal Bankers (tellers who can do anything from cashing a check to opening an account to closing certain loan types), two part-time Universal Bankers, and eventually, we’ll hire a part-time courier.” 

Anglin says the site offers two ITM’s (Interactive Teller Machines) that allow customers to complete ATM transactions 24 hours per day, while also providing the ability to speak with a live teller via video screen from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In a June 2015 announcement of the new branch’s construction, SMB&T’s CEO and chairman John H. Castle said the bank was eager to bring its services to the Portage and Kalamazoo area, as “the region is enjoying significant growth and is home to a vibrant business community.” 

SMB&T is a subsidiary of Southern Michigan Bancorp, Inc., a bank holding company headquartered in Coldwater. The bank originated in Coldwater in 1872 as Southern Michigan National Bank, and today offers consumer, business and wealth management services at 14 branches within Branch, Calhoun, Hillsdale and St. Joseph Counties and a loan production office in Angola, Indiana.

Writer: Cathie Schau, Second Wave Media
Source: Eric Anglin, Southern Michigan Bank & Trust 
 

New general manager to join WMUK in July

Western Michigan University’s public radio station, WMUK, is getting a new general manager. 

Stephen Anthony Williams will take the post beginning July 1. He has been general manager for WESM-FM at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore since 2011. He was interim general manager of the station for 18 months before that and had previously been the news and public affairs director and morning news host for the award-winning station.

Williams' background also includes positions with an XM Satellite station and two AM stations in Arlington, Va. Before beginning his broadcast career, Williams taught English as a Peace Corps worker in Africa's Republic of Cameroon. He is a 1999 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Durham, where he majored in communication and minored in music.

Williams will replace Gordon Bolar, who is retiring June 30 after five years as WMUK general manager and more than 20 years in public radio and public television management.

The station Williams currently works at is similar to WMUK in format, offering a mix of music, news, and public service programming. He says he's excited about the fundamental strengths he found at the station in Kalamazoo.

"The thing that stands out to me most is that WMUK has a truly dedicated staff, and that the administration of Western Michigan University is fully committed and supportive of the station's success," he says. "Importantly, there is also a community of listeners and supporters that stand behind the station, and it's clear to me that both the station and the University are deeply engaged in serving both Kalamazoo and greater southwest Michigan. In my experience, these are critical ingredients for success."

Source: Western Michigan University
 

Corner Shoppes@Drake retail is next at US-131 and Stadium Drive

Within weeks construction will begin on a retail center, the latest project at the Corner@Drake, developed by AVB at the interchange of US-131 and Stadium Drive.

The new retail center, known as Corner Shoppes@Drake, will feature  20,000 square feet of retail space in two separate buildings. In addition to the usual spaces for retailers in the shopping center, the spots on the ends of the buildings will have drive-through capabilities attractive to restaurants or retailers.

The Corner Shoppes will front on Drake Road and are expected to be completed by winter of 2016. Negotiations are underway with potential tenants and AVB expects the available shopping center space to fill. 

The company says local and national tenants are talking with them. "We are keeping our eyes open to all opportunities that present themselves as we continue those discussions." The company expects several tenants will be new concepts to this market.  

Construction on the 40-acre Corner@Drake development began in November of 2013. It is proceeding as anticipated by AVB and the Corner Shoppes portion of the development is not its final phase. 

The new regional retail center is home to Costco, Field & Stream and Consumers Credit Union. AVB reports that large crowds accompanied the opening of Field & Stream and the momentum for development continues to build. 

Corner@Drake serves as a central retail hub to the 524,000-plus residents in the region. It is centrally located at Stadium Drive and Drake Road and is quickly and easily accessed by the entire region. It also is close to downtown Kalamazoo, Western Michigan University, and Kalamazoo College.

Source: AVB
 

Changes ahead for Trade Centre Development

Changes are underway at the 32-acre property at the northwest corner of I-94 and South Westnedge Avenue in Portage that is home to two office buildings, a Courtyard by Marriott, and Homewood Suites by Hilton. 

The next phase of the development, a 100,000-square-foot office building, recently received site plan approval. The project will break ground later this year on the property that Roger Hinman and Joe Gesmundo purchased in 2003.

Meanwhile, when the University of Phoenix moved out of 950 Trade Centre Way it created an opening for Spring Arbor University.

Spring Arbor University has been serving the students of greater Kalamazoo area since 1998, with classes in business, nursing, organizational management, social work, and counseling. Spring Arbor was in its former location at 3497 S. 9th Street for over a decade before deciding to move.

“By relocating to the Trade Centre, we are continuing our focus to improve the student experience by enhancing our education with a functional and intentional space,” says Troy Van Go, executive director of Spring Arbor’s western region.

Because the Trade Centre space was previously used for educational purposes, Spring Arbor was able to take advantage of the existing infrastructure left behind by The University of Phoenix, including the classrooms and furniture.

"Our students will experience a more updated facility, improved communication infrastructure, and exceptional equipment and furnishings,” says Van Go. “All in all, this is a great space that will create a dynamic venue for our professional and graduate studies. 950 Trade Centre is also easy to find, being that it is a visible landmark from I-94 and S. Westnedge Avenue."

Source: The Hinman Co.
 

Welcome Home: Interior designer transforms auto parts store into showroom, studio space

A former auto parts store in St. Joseph has taken on a new life as an architectural and interior design center, complete with a showroom. Karen Garlanger Designs, LLC celebrated the opening of their new space, dubbed Welcome Home, with a ribbon cutting ceremony April 22.
 
Garlanger and her team, including husband David Schuck, have been renovating the former Ridge & Kramer Auto Parts site at 813 Highland Avenue since purchasing it in 2015. The location offers design space for Garlanger’s studio, plus a showroom and retail store, warehouse and room for truck deliveries.
 
“The ribbon cutting was amazing; we had an awesome turnout,” Garlanger says. “Several Cornerstone Chamber of Commerce members attended as well as the mayor’s representative.”
 
Having a showroom is the most exciting perk of the new location, Garlanger notes. “We can show all the lines we carry … our Welcome Home Custom Cabinet Line, our own Welcome Home Furniture line, rugs, bedding, and counters. We have a kitchen, beverage bar, benches and contemporary and traditional cabinets to show.”
 
Garlanger launched Karen Garlanger Designs in 2010. Her work has appeared in Women's Day Magazine, Distinctive Kitchen Solutions and Food Network Magazine, and she’s also been a featured designer on HGTV's website, according to karengarlangerdesigns.com. Garlanger’s work can also be viewed at Houzz.com, where she’s listed in the Pros section.
 
A St. Joseph native, Garlanger studied interior design at Western Michigan University and architecture at the University of Miami, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Andrews University.
 
The firm offers residential architecture (remodeling, additions, and new construction), residential interior design, space planning and kitchen and bath design, plus assistance with contractor selection and project management. They provide furniture, re-upholstery, fabrics, rugs, window treatments, bedding, wall coverings, tile, plumbing fixtures, appliances, cabinetry, counters, hardware, mirrors, art, and lighting.

Writer: Cathie Schau, Second Wave Media Southwest
Source: Karen Garlanger, Karen Garlanger Designs

 

What happens when local news sources shrink?

Across America newspapers are slashing their staffs or closing their doors. Newspapers employed about a-third fewer professionals in 2013 than they did at their peak in 1989. And staff cut announcements have continued to come in on a regular basis in the past three years. 

What this means for the community will be explored in a panel discussion coordinated by InterCom, the Kalamazoo area’s association of communication professionals.

Breaking the News, a panel discussion, and community conversation, has been set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 19 at the Fetzer Center on the campus of Western Michigan University.

Anna Clark, the Columbia Journalism Review’s Midwest correspondent based in Detroit, leads the exploration of the changing role of “local” news outlets, the media, and the media’s impact on the community. She is the Columbia Journalism Review’s Midwest correspondent based in Detroit, and a 2011 Fulbright fellow. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Washington Post, Grantland, NBCNews.com, Politico Magazine and other publications. She's currently working on a book about the Flint water crisis for Metropolitan Books / Henry Holt.

Owners and executives from some of Michigan’s leading media companies will talk about how trends in media are affecting communities across the state and the country.

Gretchen Johnson, InterCom president, says technology's disruption of the media industry has changed "how, when, where and from whom we get information today." Those changes not only affect communication professionals such as those in InterCom, but have implications for the community at large, she adds.

Johnson points to developments in local media coverage, such as a decline in local arts and entertainment reporting that has driven the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo to consider establishing a new, dedicated arts publication. In February, Western Michigan University’s athletics department directed fans to its online sports news in light of the drop in local coverage.

“Journalism is not just a matter of business; it is a democratic urgency,” says Clark, who cites media coverage of the Flint Water crisis as an example of the important role reporters play in a community’s wellbeing.

In 2015, Pew Research reported that individuals who consider their community a great place to live tend to have high rates of civic engagement and strong local news habits, Johnson goes on to say. “We’re excited at the opportunity to bring people together to explore what’s happening and discuss the implications of these changes on our community today and in the long term.”

Members of the panel

Sarah Hulett became Assistant News Director of Michigan Radio after five years as the station’s Detroit reporter, where she contributed to several reporting projects that won state and national awards. The NPR news station serves 500,000 listeners across the Lower Peninsula.

Michael McCullough is the executive editor and content strategist for the Battle Creek Enquirer, a Ganett publication serving Calhoun County. Mac joined the Enquirer in August 1988 after career stops in Atlantic City, NJ, Norwich Conn., and Stamford, Conn. 

Phil Power, Founder & Chairman, Center for Michigan/Bridge Magazine, previously owned a group of 64 community newspapers in Michigan and the upper Midwest that won more state and national awards than any other group in the country.

Paul Schutt is the co-founder of Issue Media Group, Detroit, which publishes online magazines in 21 regions across the U.S. and Canada, including Kalamazoo-based Second Wave Southwest Michigan. His background is in technology, business development, and strategy.

Source: Gretchen Johnson, InterCom
 

Signing day now includes star academic students

Signing day is not just for athletes anymore. Western Michigan University hosted close to 1,500 graduating seniors May 2 who were there to announce the colleges and universities to which they have committed for fall 2016. 

The president of the areas' three colleges--WMU's John M. Dunn, Kalamazoo College's Eileen Wilson-Oyelaran and Kalamazoo Valley Community College's Marilyn Schlack--were all on hand to congratulate the graduating seniors. So were Michigan State Superintendent Brian J. Whiston, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell, and representatives of 10 other Michigan and out-of-state colleges. 

During the two-hour event, students were entertained by a WMU Greek organization, the Loy Norrix Drumline, Portage Central Choir, local D.J. Chuck Welch and a surprise guest artist, Matt Giraud, the musician who achieved national recognition and acclaim for his performances on  American Idol and finished 5th on Season 8 of the musical competition television show. Dr. D.F. Arnold, a motivational speaker who specializes in personal and professional development, delivered a keynote address to the high school seniors.

Kalamazoo County College Signing Day, was organized by Western Michigan University and the College and Career Action Network of Kalamazoo County, for all graduating seniors in the county. 

This was the second major College Signing Day in Michigan. The first was took place in May 2015 at Detroit's Wayne State University.  First Lady Michele Obama launched the initiative and presided over a citywide signing day. The May date for the local event was chosen to reflect the traditional May 1 deadline for students to accept admissions offers.  

Source: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University
Photos: Amanda Lozier, Western Michigan University

Greenleaf Trust hires three new employees

Earlier this year, Greenleaf Trust hired three new employees--a trust operations specialist, a recruiter, and a trading specialist.

Jermaine J. Johnson is responsible for securities processing and providing support to the rest of the operations team. He has been hired as a trust operations specialist – cash processing. Johnson has nearly 10 years of banking and accounting experience, including work in office management and account reconciliation. He earned his bachelor’s degree in finance at Western Michigan University and he is currently completing his M.B.A.

Lisa C. Luebke joins Greenleaf Trust as a recruiter. She is responsible for management of the recruiting process, which includes developing innovative new ways of attracting and searching for top applicants to bring to the company. Luebke will partner closely with community leaders, and build and maintain relationships with members of a diverse talent network at universities and colleges, job fairs, and community organizations among others. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a bachelor of science in elementary education/early childhood.

Samuel J. Riethman has been hired as a trading specialist – equities. His responsibilities include all aspects of trading with a focus on equity and options while providing support as an alternate for fixed income and mutual fund transactions. He works closely with the team to continuously improve the trading process and give insight on the technical facets of the market. Riethman’s background includes commercial banking operations and consumer credit underwriting. A graduate of Denison University, he earned his bachelor’s degree in economics.

Greenleaf Trust is an independent Michigan-chartered trust-only bank, focused exclusively on wealth management, trust and estate administration, and administration of company-sponsored retirement plans. It has offices in Kalamazoo, Birmingham, Traverse City and Petoskey.
 
Source: Greenleaf Trust

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
 
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