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Friday, 17 August 2012 23:22

TEDx event gets local spin in Kalamazoo

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KALAMAZOO — While TED events may focus on ideas worth spreading, a local offshoot of the international program wants to spotlight ideas that are ready to be implemented.

Organizers have scheduled TEDx Kalamazoo for Oct. 11 at the Fetzer Center at Western Michigan University. As a widely recognized platform for spreading ideas, TEDx organizers wanted to give the local event a somewhat different treatment, one focused on ideas implemented recently and those that could be executed in the future.

The event is gathering local leaders to share the story of their efforts and ideas for the community. Planners expect the program to highlight industry sectors including food, biotechnology, business development and nonprofits.

Representatives for the event said the topics chosen represent areas that have particular relevance to Kalamazoo, a community they believe continues to show its receptiveness to new ideas and innovation.

"Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan have been ahead of the curve, consistently beating both the state and national average for growth rate ever since coming out of the recession," said Daniel Proczko, TEDx Kalamazoo organizer and marketing director for Traumasoft, a software company that specializes in the emergency medical service industry. "I think that is very reflective of how responsive the area is to new ideas and innovation."

Proczko pointed to Startup Zoo, a group of tech entrepreneurs pushing the startup movement in the city, as evidence of the economic transformation taking shape in the region. The group's website,, highlights Kalamazoo's entrepreneurial roots with Upjohn Co., Gibson Guitars, Checker Cabs and Bell's Brewery.

Startup Zoo regularly puts on events and holds biweekly meetings at the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, where entrepreneurs come together and discuss their efforts and what's trending in the industry. The group is also co-sponsor of the localized event Startup Weekend, a global organization funded by the Kauffman Foundation, taking place at WMU in October. TEDx Kalamazoo organizers scheduled their event to take place just before the Startup Weekend kicks offs.

Proczko said Startup Weekend is essentially a 54-hour fire drill where entrepreneurs and a host of industry professionals as well as students come together to launch as many sustainable businesses as possible and start making revenue.

"We've worked to put the event near the same weekend so people participating in Startup Weekend could potentially apply and come to TEDx Kalamazoo, take the ideas they learn about and put them to use in the competition," Proczko said. "We want people to share ideas, make them public and get the gears of innovation running."

The event will feature four to six local speakers, all of whom are leaders in their fields, to present in 20-minute increments. A detailed itinerary will be released as the event draws closer, Proczko said.

The event is open to 100 participants. People interested in attending can apply online at the TEDx Kalamazoo website, The group began sending out invitations on Aug. 1.

Read 1192 times Last modified on Saturday, 01 September 2012 10:58

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