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Information technology firm moves to BTR Park

March 28, 2006

KALAMAZOO--An information technology company that has carved out a national niche in the real estate property appraisal arena has become the newest corporate partner to take up residence in Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park.

Network Appraisal Services Inc., a division of First American Corp.'s eAppraiseIT group has opened an office in the park's Initech Building, formerly known as the Pro Line Tech Building. The move brings that multitenant building to full occupancy, with six advanced engineering and IT firms located there. A total of 29 firms with more than 500 employees are now part of the BTR Park community.

Operating under the domain name www.Appraisals.com, NAS is a firm developed by WMU alumnus William Brian Hartman, who is the company president. Using his background in real estate appraisal for financial institutions, Hartman has developed software to be used by the appraisal industry.

His company has seven employees in Kalamazoo and 21 in Romeo, Mich. Four current employees are WMU students with backgrounds in business, education, computer science and business information systems.

"The BTR Park is really the perfect location for my company because we plan to partner with the University in a number of disciplines," Hartman says. "The location puts us in easy reach of the students and faculty members we plan to engage as we develop and refine our software products."

Hartman is a 1981 alumnus of the University and the winner of a departmental distinguished alumni award in the field of geography. He has an extensive background in working with banking organizations.

NAS works with a national network of qualified appraisers who use Web-based tools to generate appraisal reports that are tailored to the needs of customers. They include daily status reports, customized reports and completed appraisal reports. Services provided allow clients to interface electronically in a secure environment with other parts of the loan origination and servicing systems. The company's appraisal management system is designed to streamline mortgage-processing time by linking financial institutions with their partners in the different parts of the loan approval process.

The addition of NAS to the BTR Park brings to nearly 30 the number of partner firms at the park, according to Bob Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach and the University's point person on park development.

"At this point, more than 85 percent of the park acreage is developed, under development or under contract," Miller notes. "The model we developed for the park has proven successful, and the park has developed much more quickly than similar university research parks around the nation."

WMU's Business Technology and Research Park shares the University's 265-acre Parkview Campus with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Launched in late 1999, the park is home to companies in the fields of advanced engineering, information technology and life sciences. The park is one of 11 sites around Michigan designated as a SmartZone by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Information is available at www.wmich.edu/btr.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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