WMU News

BTR Park success examined by developers nationwide

Feb. 10, 2005

KALAMAZOO--The lessons learned in establishing Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park are being examined by park development officials as far away as Southern California.

WMU's Bob Miller, associate vice president for community outreach and the campus point person for the BTR Park development, was invited to the University of Southern California last month to share information on WMU's successful park development efforts. Next month, the BTR Park will be part of a presentation to the U.S. Small Business Alliance in Washington, D.C.

Miller's presentation at USC, which is planning a research park on its Health Sciences Campus, focused on community partnerships and unique elements that made WMU's park a rapid success.

"Like so many of our colleagues across the country, the USC team was impressed with the speed at which the BTR Park has seen success," Miller says. "The fact that in just five year's time, this park has nearly filled and become an economic asset for both the University and community continues to attract a great deal of attention."

Miller says his presentation emphasized the strengths he regards as critical in building a park--collaboration, a narrow and clearly defined focus, and having a champion to advocate on behalf of the initiative. He notes that USC officials zeroed in and asked detailed questions on how those strengths translated into positive outcomes on such issues as zoning designation, protecting the University's interests, and securing buy-in and support from the key constituent groups.

The USC audience was particularly interested, Miller says, in the park's Michigan SmartZone designation and how the partnership with the state worked. That relationship will be central to the March 7 U.S. SBA conference in Washington called "Putting it Together: The Role of Entrepreneurship in Economic Development."

During the event, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. will present the Michigan SmartZone success story and include several examples of BTR Park successes. Among those examples will be DLZ Michigan Inc., a full-service firm providing engineering, architectural, environmental and construction services. In eight months, DLZ has tripled the number of employees assigned to its engineering offices at the park and outgrown its office space.

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

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400