Earlene McMichael / WMUK

It was a time of plant closings and corporate downsizing when Southwest Michigan First formed in 1999 in Kalamazoo. SWMF CEO Ron Kitchens says the 14 business leaders who dreamed up the group wanted it to keep existing employers here and, draw new ones to the region. The organization has been successful in doing that, Kitchens tells WMUK's Earlene McMichael on today's WestSouthwest public-affairs show. In the last five years alone, Southwest Michigan has seen a net gain of about 37,000 jobs, and he says his group's efforts are one of the contributing factors in job growth.


State Representative Dave Maturen says he wants to continue making Michigan a comeback state if he is re-elected to the state House. The Republican who represents eastern Kalamazoo County and western and southern Calhoun County says he wants to try and build on the jobs created in the state. 

Tom Arthur/Wikicommons

We continue our interviews with candidates for Congress and state Legislature on WestSouthwest. Democrat Jim Haadsma is the Democrat running in the state House district that includes Battle Creek. Libertarian Lorence Wenke is running for Congress in Southwest Michigan.


Lorence Wenke has lived in Kalamazoo for “most of my years,” and for much of that time was a Republican. But he’s now the Libertarian candidate for Congress in Southwest Michigan’s 6th district. 


Jim Haadsma says he’s running for state House because he’s concerned that Michigan isn’t the state he knew as a child or as a young man.