More than a year ago, Kaiser Aluminum Corp. was looking for a spot to build an $80 million office-and-research center that would employ 150 workers.
After considering cities in three different states, the maker of aluminum products settled on Kalamazoo, Mich., a once-prosperous manufacturing city that had lost thousands of jobs in the last decade or so.
One of the draws: The Kalamazoo Promise, a program that provides at least partial college tuition to all graduating seniors who spent their high-school years in the city’s public schools.
Just as Kaiser was gearing up its search, a group of wealthy philanthropists who have remained anonymous unveiled the Promise as a gift to the city. The lure of the program as a benefit for Kaiser employees, and its potential to produce a highly educated work force, proved a big attraction, says Martin Carter, vice president and general manager of common alloy products at Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based Kaiser.