Auto supplier spending $9.5M to expand chemistry lab

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Zeeland-based Gentex said it is in the midst of adding 36,000 square feet of space on to its existing chemistry department. Courtesy Lakeshore Advantage

A manufacturer that supplies dimmable technologies to the automotive and aerospace industries is adding on to its chemistry lab at its headquarters.

Zeeland-based Gentex said last month it is in the midst of adding 36,000 square feet of space on to its existing chemistry department, which is housed in a 500,000-square-foot facility at the company’s main campus, at 600 N. Centennial St. in Zeeland.

The extra space will house office and research areas for the chemistry department.

The total project cost for the three-story chemistry addition and two-story prototype addition is $9,542,107, according to Lakeshore Advantage.

Gentex received approval for a 12-year industrial facilities tax exemption for the project Feb. 3.

The manufacturer said while no direct job creation is expected as a result of the project, the addition will accommodate the company’s future growth.

“(The expansion) itself doesn’t lead to new jobs, but it is because (we’re) expanding our research into dimmable technologies,” said Craig Piersma, director of marketing and corporate communications for Gentex.

“We’ve recently started to market dimmable visors, head-up displays — even side windows for automotive — and we continue to expand our aerospace business, and so it was time to expand our R&D and chemical development offices, which support that.”

Construction began in November 2019 and is expected to be completed this October, Piersma said.

Grand Rapids-based Interactive Studio is the project’s architect, and Gentex is handling construction in-house.

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