STURGIS — In Site Selection magazine’s March 2013 issue, the city of Sturgis (pop. 10,994) and its surrounding region ranked No. 23 on its list of the 2012 Top Micropolitans.

The ranking represents the number of new facility and facility expansion projects as tracked and reported by Conway Data Service’s New Plant Report.

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The Sturgis micropolitan was not even on the list in 2010 and 2011, so its ranking in 2012 is quite an accomplishment and represents work resulting from Southwest Michigan First’s contract with the St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation.

A micropolitan is defined as an urban area in the U.S. based around an urban cluster with a population of 10,000 to 49,999. The Sturgis micropolitan is defined as St. Joseph County with Sturgis as its urban center. There are a total of 576 micropolitans in the U.S.

Other incorporated areas of St. Joseph County are the city of Three Rivers (pop. 7,811) and the villages of Constantine (pop. 2,076), Centreville, (pop. 1,425), White Pigeon (pop. 1,522), Mendon (pop. 870),  Colon (pop. 1,173) and Burr Oak (pop. 828). The overall county population is 61,295.

“Our businesses in St. Joseph County are working hard to grow and maintain their competitiveness. It’s nice to see these efforts recognized in Site Selection magazine,” said John Wiedlea, president of the Sturgis Economic Development Corp. “The city of Sturgis, working in partnership with the St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation, Southwest Michigan First and our business leaders, will continue to ensure that we are a first class place to conduct business.”

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One of those businesses mentioned is American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. in Three Rivers, which is currently in the process of building the largest 2012 St. Joseph County facility expansion.

Joe Bippus, the city manager of Three Rivers, has championed the city’s support of American Axle’s expansion efforts.

“We have a quality work force,” Bippus said. “I think it’s good for Michigan, and it’s good for our country to see manufacturing jobs expanding.”

Added Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First: “St. Joseph County continues to be a committed partner in our efforts to elevate economic development in the region. The county’s local business leaders are actively engaged in continuing our forward momentum of working together to build a robust region.”

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Southwest Michigan First is an organization of privately funded economic development advisors who act as the catalyst for economic growth in Southwest Michigan. For more information about Southwest Michigan First, please visit us at, or call (269) 553-9588.