Newell Rubbermaid to build at BTR Park

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Photo of WMU's Business Technology and Research Park.

WMU's Business Technology and Research Park

KALAMAZOO—A firm that markets some of the best-known consumer brands in the nation will bring its global design and innovation capabilities to the Western Michigan University Business Technology and Research Park, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced today.

Atlanta-based Newell Rubbermaid will open a state-of-the art 40,000-square-foot facility at the park by early 2014, and expects to have a Kalamazoo employee base of up to 100. The firm is the corporate umbrella for such well-known brands as Sharpie®, Rubbermaid®, Graco®, Calphalon®, Paper Mate® and Irwin®. The company's move is being assisted with a $2 million award from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Newell will build on property that is located on the west edge of the BTR Park near the WMU soccer fields and the University's historic Gibbs House. The company expects to develop strong recruiting ties with the University.

"Newell Rubbermaid has customers around the world and has told us they want this facility to be a showcase," says Bob Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach and the BTR Park's point person. "We know they've already set that process in motion by reaching out to architects and builders with a long and distinguished track record in development projects at the BTR Park."

The new facility will be devoted to product design and innovation and will serve as a hub for design and marketing teams to evaluate product prototypes and create plans for future products for the more than 40 brands that are part of the company's global portfolio. No manufacturing will take place at the site.

WMU trustees approved the sale of what is known as Parcel No. 26 at their Feb. 27 meeting. Since that time, changes to the original proposal will mean a slightly larger tract will be used. Expanding the parcel, which is adjacent to the Gibbs House property, will necessitate a small land swap that will result in a net increase in the overall size and enhance the Parkview Avenue frontage of the Gibbs site. The property is used by WMU for sustainability initiatives.

"We're extraordinarily excited about both Newell Rubbermaid's decision to locate here and its interest in working with our business, engineering and fine arts colleges," says Miller. "This development, along with the upcoming construction of a new corporate headquarters for the design firm mophie, means our Business Technology and Research Park is now full."
Miller notes that the park was launched in 1999 and is now home to more than 40 companies as well as WMU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, which is a life sciences incubator. The BTR Park is one of Michigan's 11 original SmartZones.

"We've had exceptionally strong partners every step of the way. The state of Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the city of Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan First have all helped make this possible," Miller says.

For more information, contact Miller at (269) 387-2073 or (269) 217-3878.