Gentex expanding in Zeeland

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Rendering courtesy Gentex Coporation

A local automotive industry supplier is expanding thanks in part to grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

The Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) board on Monday, July 25, approved grants that will aid Zeeland-based Gentex Corporation in its expansion. The $300 million project will bring 500 new jobs to the company and add 650,000 square feet of space, including a new high-tech manufacturing plant and a distribution center in Zeeland Charter Township.

The grants include a $5.5 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant, a $1.89 million Jobs Ready Michigan grant and a 15-year, 100% State Essential Services Assessment exemption valued at $3.8 million.

The deal was announced by Lakeshore Advantage, a nonprofit organization that aids West Michigan employers with growth opportunities in Ottawa and Allegan counties.

“We are honored to support the growth of this local-turned-global company and we celebrate their continued success,” said Jennifer Owens, president, Lakeshore Advantage.

Gentex Corporation President and CEO Steve Downing said the deal was two years in the making.

“We’re excited to announce that after two years of analyzing our manufacturing and R&D footprint, we’ve reached an agreement with the state of Michigan that supports our longstanding commitment to the state and provides the incentives necessary to facilitate our future growth initiatives in Michigan,” he said.

Gentex also owns plants in Alabama, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia that were in the running, but $11.1 million worth of incentives aided the decision to bring the overhaul to Zealand.

The project will provide the company with increased capacity for glass processing, the manufacture of auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, displays and electronics for automotive and aerospace applications and the development of new technologies for the fire protection industry.

“Congratulations to the entire Gentex team on your continued success here in Michigan. We appreciate your vote of confidence in West Michigan’s talented workforce and the Zeeland community as you grow your company,” said Quentin Messer Jr., CEO of MEDC and president and chair of the MSF board.

In addition to the state-level grants, the expansion project received local support as well.

Zeeland Charter Township and the city of Zeeland anticipate approval of property tax abatements in support of the project, and MEDC also authorized a State Education Tax abatement to be used in conjunction with the local abatement. The city is supporting this project in the form of a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption anticipated for approval. Zeeland Charter Township is supporting this project in the form of a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption anticipated for approval.

West Michigan Works! and Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) committed to help fill the new job openings for Gentex Corporation, which boasts the lakeshore region’s largest employer with a workforce of 5,000.

“GRCC and our GRCC Lakeshore Campus location support upskilling and building the future workforce for Ottawa County. We are proud to partner with Lakeshore Advantage, West Michigan Works! and the MEDC to help Gentex continue to advance its work,” said Julie Parks, GRCC’s interim dean of workforce development.

Other businesses approved to receive the MEDC grants for expansion are located in Detroit and Sterling Heights. A community revitalization project for the city of Lansing and actions that will grow Michigan’s small businesses and tourism and hospitality industry also were among the projects approved Monday by the MSF board, representing a total capital investment of more than $424 million across Michigan.

“Today’s approvals will create over 1,000 good-paying jobs for Michiganders while building on our mobility leadership, increasing our inventory of site-ready facilities, supporting vibrant communities and investing in initiatives to ensure long-term economic opportunities for businesses in the state,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “We can attract bold investments from cutting-edge firms like Gentex because of our bipartisan collaboration on economic development legislation last year, which has already led to billions of dollars in investment in Michigan and thousands of jobs.

“Gentex is a longstanding Michigan company, and we are grateful to them for expanding their presence in Michigan. Let’s keep working together to grow our economy, build on our rich automotive legacy and create good-paying, high-skill jobs for Michiganders.”

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