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Kitchens: Southwest Michigan First contract good for Kalamazoo

Welcome to Kalamazoo sign entering downtown Kalamazoo.
Welcome to Kalamazoo sign entering downtown Kalamazoo.

KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- Southwest Michigan First's success with attracting firms to the overall region has given way to a more focused effort on the City of Kalamazoo itself.

Kalamazoo City Commissioners recently approved a two-year, $225,000 contract with Southwest Michigan First to take over some of the city's economic development efforts.

The city effort will become an arm of the firm, which CEO Ron Kitchens tells WKZO will focus especially on the city's core and on small business development.

"The city's had some efforts, we have efforts - we're going to combine them," Kitchens said Tuesday on The Lori Moore Show. "There was a little redundancy, but not a lot. Mainly this is about growing and being more robust."

Among the other areas Southwest Michigan First will focus on, the issue of making sure firms which have received tax incentives in exchange for growing their employment base actually are doing so.

"The taxpayers deserve to know those things are being managed, audited and we're getting the value," Kitchens said.

He said the effort will focus on the city's strengths, such as industrial sites or redevelopment in the urban core.

Hear the whole Kitchens interview from The Lori Moore Show by clicking here.