Newell Rubbermaid Design Hub Coming To Kalamazoo; A Hundred ‘Good’ Jobs

Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-27 20:05:52-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich.–Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that Newell Rubbermaid will be opening a design and test center in Kalamazoo, that’s expected to bring 100 new jobs to the area.

Most people are familiar with some of the Atlanta-based  firm’s 40 global consumer brands, everything from Calphalon pans and Goody hair products to Graco, Paper Mate, and of course, Rubbermaid products.

The firm will be opening the state-of-the-art hub on Western Michigan University’s Business Technology and Research Park.

“Having a world-class company such as Newell Rubbermaid, choose to locate in Michigan is a great win for us and a testament to our talented work force and the competitiveness of Michigan as a research and development hotbed,” Snyder said.

Salaries are expected to be around $80,000 a year.

The hub will be devoted to product design and innovation.  It will also serve as a hub for marketing teams to evaluate product prototypes and come up with new ideas for company’s brands. No manufacturing will take place at the site.

“These are the jobs that will bring in families who can buy homes, afford a lifestyle and are active in community,” said Ron Kitchens, chief executive officer of Southwest Michigan First, a private non-profit economic group that helped attract Newell Rubbermaid to Kalamazoo.

“These are the jobs we all so desperately want for our community and that you need to accelerate,” he said.

The hope is the new hub will help keep talent in the West Michigan area and grow the design sector.

The Kalamazoo area currently has an unemployment rate of around seven percent.

The region is seeing growth in most sectors,  including  healthcare and automotive, but a decline in government jobs.

Economic leaders say they had to compete with cities like Chicago and Atlanta for the hub.

“One of the disadvantages we have is we don’t have a hub airport,” said Kitchens.

Project leaders said the biggest selling point for Kalamazoo was the talent base.

Southwest Michigan First will be building the facility and then leasing it to Rubbermaid. Construction is set to begin in 30 to 45 days and be complete and open by Christmas.

The company’s move will be assisted with a $2 million award from the Michigan Strategic Fund.