PAW PAW — Cass County is creating a new partnership with Kinexus Group and its subsidiary, Market Van Buren, to raise the economic development profile of the county.

Officials made the announcement Friday in an effort to strengthen both counties in the ever-changing economic development landscape.

“Market Van Buren has always reached out to provide assistance, and the agreement with Kinexus Group for services makes our community even better,” Cass County commissioner and board Chairwoman Roseann Marchetti said in a news release.

According to Marchetti, Zach Morris, executive director of Market Van Buren, has helped Cass County and its businesses several times over the past few years.

“Cass County is important to our region and there are obvious synergies in the work that Market Van Buren is doing, and services that can be provided to help Cass,” Kinexus Group President and CEO Todd Gustafson said in the release. “We look forward to not only marketing and promoting Cass County through Market Van Buren, but to assist with policy issues like rural broadband and building a better ecosystem for growth in the region.”

Market Van Buren has had a number of high-profile successes over the past year, helping Barber Packaging transition to providing face shields during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping 40 companies in Cass and Van Buren land state grants to stay in operation, and landing another grant to develop a high-tech park in the Mattawan area.

“We have been successful in supporting the retention of over 416 jobs, helping create 168 new ones, and having an economic impact close to $44 million over the last four years,” said Morris. “Rural communities need to create an ecosystem that will sustain growth, and with the changes happening in larger communities right now, Southwest Michigan is positioned to capitalize on that.”

Cass County Administrator Jeff Carmen said Market Van Buren and Kinexus Group have been providing value to the region and building on that momentum and partnering would be positive for the whole area.

“Our corner of Michigan has a great quality of life; we are like a bit of a hidden gem with lakes, great schools, and plenty of room to grow, but in keeping with the rural charm that makes Cass County a great place to work, live, and play,” Carmen said.