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Attractions and High Demand Jobs in Kalamazoo

Updated on October 30, 2013
Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo
Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo | Source

Kalamazoo - St. Joseph - Portage Metro Area

With several friends across the State of Michigan, I have enjoyed the opportunity to travel to that state often and acquire employment related information while site seeing and attending sports tournaments. I often stop in at the MichiganWorks! offices in my travels and pick up brochures and gather information.

Kalamazoo County is home to over 245,000 people as of the end of 2007. Its greter metropolitan area includes Southest Michigan communities of Portage and St. Joseph and the smaller towns and villages filling in the geographic triangle formed by the larger Tri-Cities. The City of Kalamazoo was honored in a Swing Era film named "Orchestra Wives" with a number called "I've Got a Gal In Kalamazoo" (see clip below).

The metro area has been supported since its 1829 beginnings by agriculture (celery, bedding plants, peppermint, fruit, famous Michigan potatoes), and joined by manufacturing (paper, auto parts, medicines, Gibson Guitars), retail trade, a major regional healthcare industry, and tourism.

Glenn Miller with Tex Beneke and the Nicholas Brothers dance sensations. 1942 film, "Orchestra Wives"

University of Western Michigan

College of Engineering and Applied Sciences - map of research centers around the state. Many businesses receive help from these centers in creating new and better methods of business and new jobs.
College of Engineering and Applied Sciences - map of research centers around the state. Many businesses receive help from these centers in creating new and better methods of business and new jobs.

Largest Kalamazoo Metro Area Employers

The following employee groups include from 1,000+ to nearly 5,000 workers each. These compaines specialize in Education, Healthcare, Banking, and Retail.

  1. Western Michigan University
  2. Borgess Medical Center - Names as one of the 20 Great Workplaces in the World by Gallop in 2008.
  3. Pfizer - Pharmaceuticals and chemicals
  4. Bronson Methodist Hospital - Wom a 2009 Award as Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence™ from HealthGrades. Awarded One of the Best Places for Working Moms by Working Mother magazine.
  5. Stryker Medical Technology
  6. Kalamazoo Public Schools
  7. National City Bank
  8. Meijer, Inc. - Retail
  9. Portage Public Schools
  10. County of Kalamazoo - County government.

High Demand Occupations

Very high-demand jobs in the shorter term, to 2014.

  1. Employment, Recruitment & Placement Specialists - This indicates a ris in jobs and employment overall.
  2. Medical/Health Services Managers
  3. Medical Assistants
  4. Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts
  5. Marriage & Family Therapists
  6. Physical Therapy Assistants
  7. Cardiovascular Techs

Jobs Providing the Most Openings Each Year through 2016

  1. Food Preparation and Service - all positions.
  2. Retail & Wholesale Sales and related occupations
  3. Office/Administrative Support jobs
  4. Production & Manufacturing
  5. Education & Training - includes library positions.
  6. Healthcare Practitioners (diagnosis and therapy) and associated Techs
  7. Transportation and Materials Movers - largely freight.
  8. Management - in a number of industries and levels.
  9. Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Services
  10. Personal Care - includes assistants, health aides and similar.

Top 10 Fastest Growing Jobs

  1. Social Assistance - needed to handle caseloads of individuals and families in transitions to and from public assistance, to new jobs, to a return to civilian life from Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to handle problems of aging, to transition through the immigration process, and other. Large range of salaries.
  2. Registered Nurses (RNs) - Salary over $28.00/hour.
  3. Amusement, Gambling, and Recreation Industries - Tribal and non-ribal establishments.
  4. Administrative/Support Services
  5. Professional/Business Services
  6. Nursing Homes and Residential Care Facilities
  7. Truck Transportation - freight and shipping - also listed above in the top jobs through 2016.
  8. Ambulatory Health Care Services
  9. Building Materials and Garden Equipment/Supplies Merchants
  10. Professional, Scientific, and Tech Services - included sustainability. 

Higher Education

  • Davenport University - This is a top notch career and techniologies school with campuses in Kalamazoo and across the state.
  • Everest Institute
  • Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies
  • Kalamazoo College - In 2005, this college was the Number 5 school in America for the number of students it recruited into the Peace Corps.
  • Kalamazoo Valley Community College
  • Mazareth College
  • St. Joseph University - St. Joseph MI
  • West Michigan College of Barbering and Beauty
  • Western Michigan University - vital in planning and developing new jobs and new methods of business best practices. Multiple research centers.
  • Wright Beauty Academy -Portage MI

A Spad WWI Fighter in the Kalamazoo Air Zoo
A Spad WWI Fighter in the Kalamazoo Air Zoo | Source

Downtown Kalamazoo

The Downtown area, including the Historic District, is filling with loft apartments and condominiums quickly that are designed for students, young professionals and mid-careerists to enjoy. Historic neighborhoods are located very close to the central city, as are two colleges, a major university, and another major employer, Bronson Methodist Hospital. Of over 80,000 people living in Kalamazoo as of the end of 2007 by Census estimates, approximately 11% live Downtown.

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra is headquartered Downtown and is Michgian's 3rd-largest orchestra. In addition, free summer concerts are offered in Bronson Park every summer. The Epic Center of Performing Arts in Downtown combines twelve separate dance and theater companies. Nearby are an art center and several small galleries. For sports, a variety of semi-professionals play in Downtown arenas: baseball, soccer, football, and hockey. Museums, night life, and two major 4-star hotels add to the excitement. Arcadia Creek Festival Place is a well maintained showplace Downtown used for all of the yearly festivals, including the International Keyboard Festival held every two years.

Historic Downtown Kalamazoo

A Native American burial mound of Hopewell origins sits in the center city in Bronson Park, named for the first European settler to build a cabin nearby.

The name "Kalamazoo" is thought to be tribal in nature and to mean "bubbling waters." Pottawatomi people migrated ino the southwestern region of the state sometime in the long ago 800s, evidenced by artifacts gathered and age-tested.

Located on the Kalamazoo River near additional waterways, the future metro area grew as increasing numbers of people migrated westward. Local population continued to increase until 1971, when the US Federal Government mandated school busing to eliminate segregation in local schools.

Some families moved out of the city to Portage and St. Joseph in order to avoid busing long distances. By the end of the 1970s, new families had begin to migrate into the area once more.

Revitalization of the central city began in the 1990s and continues through the 2010s. Kalamazoo College is instrumental in the ongoing revitalization plans, providing high quality education for new jobs coming to the central city and suburbs.

Western Michigan University is also located in this area, with a research and development center that advises local and regional businesses and plans and develops new lines of employment. Sustainability is a major focus of both schools.


a 1911 Buick at the Gilmore Car Museum.
a 1911 Buick at the Gilmore Car Museum. | Source
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