For the Kalamazoo Area Transportation Study, Economic Development Research Group (now EBP) and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research examined the potential for economic development and job creation impacts from a proposed new highway interchange in the depressed northwest part of Kalamazoo.
The study included a survey of local stakeholders to elicit local perspectives on business expansion constraints and how transportation access for commercial vehicles factored into doing business in this part of Kalamazoo. This included business-owners in the struggling Northside neighborhood, city/regional government development officials, and developers.
The study team also assembled an inventory of developable sites and land (including brownfields) within this neighborhood, as well as supporting infrastructure. This was used to assess the physical resources that are readily available for economic development market demand grow in this part of the city.
Finally, the study team conducted an analysis of how a new interchange would change accessibility and travel times to/from the study area, compared to other parts of the city. Michigan DOT's Kalamazoo regional traffic network model provided additional information on accessibility to this area and other parts of the city. All of this information was used to determine whether a new interchange would make the area more attractive to business by increasing access to labor, customer and business supplier markets.
The findings of the study were that the currently-proposed interchange design would provide limited improvement in accessibility to the area, but that a combination of better access improvements and economic development support measures could enhance economic development opportunities for the region.