Architecture & Design, Economic Development, and Higher Education

Architecture firm moves into university business park

October 16, 2014
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Architecture firm moves into university business park
The Weidenhammer Building is part of WMU’s 265-acre Business Technology and Research Park in Kalamazoo. Courtesy WMU

An architecture and engineering firm is the newest tenant at a university’s business park in the region.

Western Michigan University’s Business Technology and Research Park in Kalamazoo, or BTR Park, a campus with more than 40 private high-tech companies, said last week that Seven Generations Architecture and Engineering, or 7GenAE, has moved into the Weidenhammer Building, at 4664 Campus Dr.

Although the campus was considered at capacity, the firm was able to move staff members and contract employees into BTR Park after a re-configuration of the Weidenhammer Building freed up 3,500 square feet of space.


7GenAE, which has a “singular dedication to environmental stewardship,” is owned by the economic development organization of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, known as Mno-Bmadsen. The organization is chartered by the Pokagon Band to diversify economic opportunities to sustain the prosperity of the tribal economy.

Incorporating a Native American sustainability model blending traditional wisdom and modern environmental technology, 7GenAE provides architectural, engineering, interior design and planning services to federal, state, municipal and tribal markets.

The firm became the first tribally owned business in Michigan to receive an 8(a) certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration, which allows the company to receive small business assistance and expand its market reach to federal agencies.

7GenAE’s portfolio includes a 4,000-square-foot Bent Tree Market convenience store and the new Pokagon Health and Wellness Center in Dowagiac. The health center consists of 34,000 square feet, providing treatment for patients and physical fitness education and opportunities for tribal citizens.

"Walking the good path"

Troland Clay, president and chief executive officer of Mno-Bmadsen, said the firm’s goal aligns with the Potawatomi motto of the economic development organization, which is “walking the good path.”

“Our firm was built on the foundation that we will have an impact on the community now and for many generations to come,” Clay said. “Our six staff members have moved to the BTR Park with the intent of growing activity in all of our cores service areas over the next five years.”

As the company moves forward and looks to create opportunities for their younger generation, Clay said the firm hopes to use its revenue base to create a tribal internship to ensure the success of their youth.

WMU partner

Bob Miller, associate vice president for community outreach at WMU and point person for the BTR Park, said the sustainable firm is a natural fit for the park.

“As a state university, we have a role in economic development,” Miller said. “We can also use our resources and work with the private sector to advantage the best and brightest, because it is good for all of us.”

Clay said the move to the high-tech campus will allow the firm to collaborate with WMU to foster development and growth of the company.

“We like the location of the BTR Park as it provides a direct link to WMU — a major research university — that will help us leverage federal research and development opportunities and provide growth opportunities for tribal youth,” Clay said.

7GenAE has historically hired WMU graduates and student interns to work with the firm and will provide several full-time and internship opportunities.

BTR Park

BTR Park was launched in 1999 through a collaboration with WMU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences to develop partnerships among businesses, WMU and the surrounding community.

The 265-acre park is home to companies in a range of industries: advanced engineering, life sciences and information technology.

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