WMU News

Business assistance facility transferred to WMU

Feb. 1, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- The WMU Board of Trustees Jan. 28 adopted a resolution that finalizes a partnership agreement, officially bringing the Southwest Michigan Technical Assistance Center under the WMU umbrella.

Previously run by the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce, the TAC became a part of WMU in October 1999. WMU trustees' approval of a novation agreement connected to that transfer, means WMU formally accepts the rights and obligations of the chamber's cooperative agreement with the federal government to assist area businesses through the center. Signing the agreement also will allow the University to bill the federal government for services provided through the TAC.

The center provides assistance in obtaining government contracts to businesses in a seven-county Southwest Michigan area, plus 14 counties in the northeast section of the state. In 1999, the center helped businesses secure more than $26 million in government contracts.

"Assuming operation of the Technical Assistance Center was a natural fit for our office," says William H. Cotton, director of WMU's Office of Business Development Services. "It ties in with the University's regional emphasis, as well as our interest in developing new research partnerships.

"We are now directly linked to businesses with research needs. For instance, if we discover a company that wants to develop a new process for manufacturing, our office can link that group with University researchers who can provide assistance. This move is part of our continuing commitment to strengthen the economic and business climate in southwest Michigan."

Cotton credits Dr. James Schmotter, dean of the Haworth College of Business, with much of the community relations work that went into forming the new partnership. "Dr. Schmotter really was the driving force that made this project happen," he says.

In a related matter, trustees also authorized the administration to enter into a lease agreement with the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce for approximately 1,820 square feet of space in the chamber building. The Haworth College of Business opened its newly formed Office of Business Development Services this past fall in the facility, which is located at 356 West Michigan Ave. The office houses the University's small business development services formerly known as WESTOPS, the Office of Public Service, the Women's Business Development Center and the Professional Education Program.

"We work so closely with the Chamber of Commerce and the newly formed Southwest Michigan First initiative, it made sense for us to be located under the same roof," Cotton said. "Already, we are strengthening our partnerships and outreach activities."

In other board action, trustees approved the recommended appointment of Deloitte & Touche to serve as the University's external auditor for the 1999-2000 fiscal year.

Media contact: Jessica English, 616 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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