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Area economy examined in May Keystone series talk

by Mark Schwerin

May 18, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Ron Kitchens.
Ron Kitchens
KALAMAZOO--A local audience will have the opportunity to hear an economic development specialist's view on southwest Michigan's economy during May's presentation in the Keystone Community Bank Breakfast Speaker Series at Western Michigan University.

Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, will speak at 8 a.m. Friday, May 27, in the Dean's Conference Room of Schneider Hall, home of the Haworth College of Business. Kitchens will provide an update on the local and state economy in his talk, which is free and open to the public.

The event begins with a continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Reservations are required by calling (269) 387-6059. Free parking is available in the Fetzer Center parking lot.

Southwest Michigan First is the catalyst for stimulating growth across the Kalamazoo region. Nationally recognized for its groundbreaking "Community Capitalism" approach to economic development, Southwest Michigan First is a private, nonprofit corporation fully committed to its mission of jobs and wealth creation.

Kitchens is a graduate of Missouri State University and the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute. He completed the Harvard Business School's Negotiation and Managerial Decision-Making program and holds the designation of Certified Economic Developer.

Throughout his career in economic development in Michigan, Texas and Missouri, Kitchens has worked with more than 200 Fortune 500, international or regional corporations as diverse as GE Capital, Aker, Celanese, Scholastic, Kiewit Offshore Services, Boeing, Exxon Mobil and Ryan Sanders Baseball.

Kitchens has been prominently featured in more than 100 national and international media outlets and speaks to business and professional groups throughout the nation. He is the author of "Community Capitalism: Lessons from Kalamazoo and Beyond" and is a regular contributor to economic development and leadership columns in local and national publications.

In addition to his position at Southwest Michigan First, Kitchens is the general partner of the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund.

The speaker series is underwritten by Keystone Community Bank. The series provides an opportunity for members of the local community to hear top business leaders and WMU faculty, alumni and friends of the Haworth College of Business.

For more information, contact Valorie Juergens, Haworth College of Business, at or (269) 387-5964.