The Right Place assisted two companies with local expansions that represent an investment of over $15.5 million and are expected to create a total of 319 jobs.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and The Right Place on Wednesday said the Comstock Park-based electronic and autonomous vehicle solutions provider Gen3 Defense & Aerospace will expand its operations in Kent County. Along with a capital investment of $8.69 million, the expansion is expected to bring 269 new jobs to the area. Additionally, Blackmer, part of PSG, a Dover company, will expand its operations at 1809 Century Ave. SW in Grand Rapids. Alongside a capital investment of over $7 million, the company will bring 50 new jobs to the West Michigan community.
Founded in 2020, Gen3 is an engineering, manufacturing and supply chain solution provider headquartered in Comstock Park with a primary focus on newly developed autonomous military and aerospace programs.
To accommodate the scale of its upcoming projects and maintain and expand its capabilities in robotics systems development, Gen3 needs to grow its West Michigan team and facilities. Currently, Gen3 employs 26 people in West Michigan out of its location at 285 Dodge NE in Comstock Park. The company is seeking to expand into a much larger facility in Kent County, which is expected to result in the hiring of 269 additional employees.
The Right Place worked closely with Gen3 and the MEDC to ensure the company continued its growth in the region.
The MEDC is supporting the expansion with the approval of a $1 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant. The Right Place also connected Gen3 to workforce development resources at West Michigan Works! to aid with talent recruitment and training.
Operating in Grand Rapids since 1925, Blackmer is a global provider of sliding vane, centrifugal, screw and regenerative turbine pump, and reciprocating gas compressor technologies for the safe transfer of liquids and gases. The company — which currently employs 250 full-time people at its Grand Rapids location — designs, manufactures and distributes its products to a variety of industries, including chemical, energy, transportation, military, marine, and oil and gas.
To accommodate continued growth and its recent acquisitions, Blackmer plans to demolish an obsolete and dormant foundry at its existing location in Grand Rapids and construct a new manufacturing facility. The planned 60,000-square-foot facility will house assembly, paint and shipping functions and will allow for the creation of 50 jobs.
The Right Place worked closely with Blackmer, the city of Grand Rapids and the MEDC to ensure the company continued its growth in the region rather than out of state. The MEDC is supporting the expansion with the approval of a $350,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.
Randy Thelen, president and CEO of The Right Place, said greater Grand Rapids is “a community where companies like Gen3 and Blackmer are able to embrace growth opportunities that bolster continued success and prosperity.”
“We are thrilled these two companies are continuing to grow here in the community and look forward to the increased economic opportunity these projects will bring to our residents,” he said.
Gen3 Defense and Aerospace general manager Mark Wells said his team is excited for the opportunity to grow in West Michigan.
“We plan to continue in the high-tech robotics space, and we’ll need a strong, talented team to achieve that,” he said. “We’re thankful for all of the support The Right Place and their partners at the MEDC provided to make this expansion a reality here in West Michigan.”
Blackmer General Manager Bob Lauson echoed that sentiment.
“We’ve called the Grand Rapids community home for nearly a century, and it continues to be an ideal location for us to expand our footprint,” he said. “We’re thankful to the team at The Right Place and their partners at the MEDC for the support they have provided to get this project over the finish line. In addition, the city of Grand Rapids has been a pleasure to deal with and has been very supportive of the project.”
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said Blackmer’s growth here fits in with a larger theme.
“Blackmer’s decision to continue its growth in the city of Grand Rapids is a testament to the economic strength of our region,” she said. “Our city continues to be a location where innovative businesses are able to grow and thrive.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she expects investments like these to benefit not just the companies but the region.
“As we jumpstart Michigan’s economy, these projects demonstrate our continued focus on laying a path for economic growth and recovery in all regions of our state,” she said. “(Wednesday’s) actions will lead to economic opportunity for Michiganders in West Michigan, by creating jobs, building on our rich manufacturing heritage in key industries and supporting business growth here in our state.”
Quentin Messer Jr., CEO of the MEDC and president and chair of the MSF Board, said projects like these demonstrate the state’s determination to take a “people-first approach to economic development while securing Michigan’s leadership in the industries that will drive our economy into the future.
“We’re proud to join The Right Place and our local partners as we send the message that we are working to build a championship economy here in West Michigan,” he said.