What is arguably Grand Rapids’ biggest innovation and design hub has just grown even bigger.
GRid70 — a collaborative workspace that houses the creative talents from corporate giants Meijer, Amway, Steelcase, Wolverine Worldwide and the Pennant Health Alliance — has not only expanded into the building space next door to make room for new tenants, but also has signed on Rock Island, Ill.-based Process Automation Concepts as its first out-of-state company.
The extra space
Floors three through six at 64 Ionia Ave. SW have been converted into program development and office space for GRid70, based at 70 Ionia Ave. SW, said Kyle Los, GRid70 program manager and on-site rep for Rockford Development Group.
Each floor in the new location is roughly 4,600 square feet, Los said. The third, fifth and sixth floors are open for current or new tenant expansion — and the fourth floor is expanded shared space, complete with wireless tech and flexible furniture from Steelcase, he said.
“Generally, in the building, there’s tenant space — which is their own private area — and then there’s shared programming space. Anyone who works here can use it, or anyone from their ‘mother ship’ can come over and use it as well, like an off-site third location for them to utilize,” he said.
“With as large of companies as we had in here, we really needed to have more programming space. . . . That’s why we expanded into this side. So now I have six shared rooms as opposed to the four that I previously had,” he said.
The new expansion will allow for new tenants, such as PAC, to join the collaborative efforts of the hub, Los said.
Officials from PAC — an engineering, design and consultation service provider — were taken on a tour of GRid70 by The Right Place and signed a lease in March, becoming official tenants as of April 1, he said.
PAC has two staff members moving in from Chicago and plans for expansion in the coming years, he added.
With the expanded space, Los believes about four more companies could be a part of GRid70 in upcoming years.
Although some businesses have expressed a desire to be a part of the tech hub’s family, Los said a certain independent backbone tempered by a collaborative spirit would be required.
“A marketing company would be difficult,” he said. “It’s important for any company joining us to be sustained, be looking to collaborate. That’s a part of the core of how they function, that they would be able to reap as much as they give to the project.”
Collaboration in practice
Los cited the example of Meijer’s food innovation team relying on the collaborative teams from GRid70 to taste test a shortbread cookie. Within two days, GRid70 collaboration helped the chef find the right taste on a product he’d spent months developing.
“It’s moments like those when you realize collaboration can speed things up,” Los said.
“Whenever you think about collaboration, often there’s a stigma of a brainstorming meeting where you spend four hours doing conversation about something you don’t necessarily need," he said. "But it’s through that casting of the net with people who all understand innovation and design and beginning to hit a shelf process, that it really does speed along the creative process.”