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Level Data takes up residence at BTR Park

June 30, 2010

KALAMAZOO--An information technology company focused on helping school districts manage student and operating data has established its main office in Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park.

Level Data, a nearly three-year-old company that counts some 300 schools in 10 states among its growing list of clients, has moved into 1,500 square feet of office space in the BTR Park's Initech Building at 4787 Campus Drive.

With eight full-time employees, the company designs solutions that eliminate data management problems for districts that range from 300 to 20,000-plus students. Area districts among Level Data clients include Sturgis, Three Rivers, Mattawan and KRESA--the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency, which provides programs and services for 200 county schools.

The move to the BTR Park makes Level Data the third company this spring to commit to becoming a corporate partner in the WMU facility.

Level Data President Matt Betts characterizes his firm as a managed service company that can save the districts staff time and money and promote data quality. The company helps district officials consolidate and manage data related to enrollment, instruction, network management, food service, hiring, payroll and transportation--virtually any application that requires student and staff data. Level Data's service also allows districts to save the hours spent cleansing data for accuracy. Districts require quality student data to secure funding, meet state and federal reporting guidelines and produce effective parental communications.

"We provide a service tailored to each district that leverages the district's existing applications

and technology and automates processes requiring critical data input," Betts says. "They don't have to worry about the technology. Our clients say, 'It just works.' "

Betts notes that data management success for schools means school officials have the data quality and time to take the next step and move into data-based decision making--actually using data to make critical decisions about any or all of the district's core functions.

"Schools are in the business of education, not information technology and database management," he says. "One area school district added up all the staff time it saved by hiring us and discovered its return on investment was 4,000 non-instructional hours annually."

Betts calls Level Data a service company that operates in a cloud-computing environment hosted by Secant Technologies. He says using the Secant cloud allows Level Data to focus on development and customer support rather than hardware and network management.

"We can have clients anywhere, and our business is infinitely scalable," he says. "When we need more space or a new server, we can have it in less than an hour."

Despite that flexibility and freedom, Betts says Level Data is committed to staying in the BTR Park.

"It would be crazy for us not to," he says. "It's the perfect place for our company from a competitive perspective."

The company intends to work with the WMU departments of Computer Science and Computer Information Systems as well as faculty and students in education, business and engineering disciplines. Betts is particularly interested in recruiting young talent to his firm.

By year's end, Betts says, Level Data will be managing data for nearly 300,000 students and he'll be looking for student interns who can help shape the service delivery model moving forward. The opportunity for interns working with his company, will be like working in "a high-tech toy store for data people," Betts says.

"For the right students, these will be not just internships, but a chance to have real input--a say in what we do," he says. "They'll have the time of their lives," Betts says.

Bob Miller, WMU's associate vice president for community outreach and the park's point person, calls Level Data's commitment to working with students and academic departments the kind of relationship envisioned when the park was established.

"This is exactly what we continue to look for," Miller says. "We want innovative firms that recognize our faculty and students as resources that will help not only their company, but also our state move forward."

WMU's Business Technology and Research Park focuses on the life sciences, advanced engineering and information technology. The park shares the University's 265-acre Parkview Campus with the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Launched in late 1999, the BTR Park is home to some 30 companies directly employing nearly 700 people.

For more information about the development, please contact Level Data President Matt Betts at (269) 488-2050 or WMU's Bob Miller, associate vice president for community outreach, at (269) 387-2073.

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

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