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Economic developer Hettinger will get honorary degree

April 23, 2007

KALAMAZOO--James F. Hettinger, president and chief executive officer of Battle Creek Unlimited, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during April 28 commencement ceremonies at Western Michigan University.

Hettinger, who has carved out an international reputation in the field of community economic development, will be honored during the first of four ceremonies, at 9 a.m. in Miller Auditorium, pending formal approval April 27 by the WMU Board of Trustees.

He is set to receive the honor during the ceremony for WMU's College of Aviation and its Haworth College of Business. Hettinger was instrumental in helping build the University's aviation campus at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Mich., and remains an active a proponent for the Aviation and e-Learning Michigan SmartZone that encompasses WMU's aviation campus and other aviation businesses located nearby.

"Jim Hettinger has been a great friend to this University and someone who has made a real difference to our state and region," says Dr. Diether H. Haenicke, interim president of WMU. "I can think of few people whose work, usually carried out quietly behind the scenes, has made such a difference in the everyday lives of so many people. He has set a sterling example in the role of community economic developer."

An Albion, Mich., native, Hettinger earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in political science from WMU in 1971 and 1973, respectively, before heading to the University of Missouri to pursue a doctoral degree in public administration.

While at Missouri, he worked as a local government specialist for that university's Governmental Affairs Program. Hettinger returned to the Battle Creek area in 1978 as marketing director for Battle Creek Unlimited, the city's economic development agency. The following year, he was named president and CEO of the organization.

During his tenure with BCU, Hettinger has overseen the development of the Fort Custer Industrial Park, once an abandoned military base and now a modern global industrial and business park with investments from Japan, Germany, Austria, Denmark and the United States. The park encompasses 3,000 acres and provides employment for more than 8,000 people.

Hettinger is the co-author of a 1996 book about BCU's successful recruitment of Japanese manufacturing to Fort Custer. "Small Town, Giant Corporation: Japanese Manufacturing Investment and Community Economic Development in the United States" has been translated and published in Japan as well. He also is the author of numerous articles dealing with economic development. Hettinger is listed in the Oxford's "Who's Who of the Elite Professionals," and his list of professional presentations include those made to the National Governors Association, the Center for Best Practices and the International City Managers Association.

Hettinger has served on the transition teams of two Michigan governors and was Gov. John Engler's first Economic Developer of the Year in 1995. His work in community voluntarism has been extensive, garnering letters of commendation from Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

He is an instructor for the International Economic Development Council and has served as an adjunct professor at WMU.

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

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