Ottawa County’s largest employer is expanding into Kent County.
Gentex Corporation has announced plans for a new satellite production facility that will bring 50 new jobs to the Madison Square neighborhood of Grand Rapids. By broadening its manufacturing footprint, the company hopes to boost its employee base and provide greater access to well-paying jobs as it continues to address the ongoing labor shortage.
The Zeeland-based technology company is a long-time supplier of electro-optical products for the global automotive, aerospace and fire protection industries. Gentex employs more than 5,500 team members working at its manufacturing campus in Zeeland and nearby Lakeshore facilities.
“Rising transportation costs make commuting increasingly difficult, so if Gentex wants to recruit employees from Grand Rapids, we need to be here,” says Gentex President and CEO Steve Downing. “And by locating a satellite plant and creating jobs in a neighborhood near the city center, our goal is to strengthen not only Gentex, but also the surrounding community, and we look forward to future opportunities to do so.”
The decision to locate in the Madison Square neighborhood came after months of working alongside Amplify GR
, a local non-profit that works in partnership with neighbors, businesses, and local organizations to help strengthen neighborhoods.
“One of our goals is to help ensure neighbors and communities benefit from economic expansion, specifically through job opportunities and wealth creation,” says Amplify GR Executive Director Jon Ippel. “We are passionate about this work – our staff works collaboratively with companies like Gentex to create innovative ways to maximize their investments in the Madison Square and Boston Square areas and throughout the community.”
Over the past couple years, Gentex has been systematically addressing some of the region’s largest barriers to employment. In 2021, the company launched Spanish-speaking assembly lines to provide expanded employment opportunities for West Michigan’s growing Hispanic community. Today, nearly 190 Spanish-speaking employees work on production lines throughout the company.
In November, Gentex announced plans to open a first-of-its-kind child care and preschool designed to provide its employees with access to quality, affordable, on-site day care. The facility, which is scheduled to break ground this spring, will be on Gentex’s Zeeland campus. It’s designed to accommodate the children of both first- and second-shift workers, with a capacity target of up to 250 children per shift.
Production start set for spring
Gentex’s Grand Rapids facility will be located at 355 Cottage Grove St. SE. The building is undergoing renovations, with production scheduled to begin in late May. The facility will produce subassembly components for Gentex’s popular HomeLink product, which consists of vehicle-integrated buttons for operating garage doors and other home automation devices. When fully operational, the facility will operate two shifts and employ 50 team members engaged in light assembly, warehousing, and logistics.
In early spring, Gentex plans to conduct a series of job fairs and community events designed to introduce the company to the neighborhood. Those interested in employment at the Cottage Grove facility can learn more at www.gentex.com/GR
Founded in 1974, Gentex – a publicly-traded company on the NASDAQ at GNTX – is a supplier of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and electronics to the automotive industry, dimmable aircraft windows, and fire protection products. Its website is www.gentex.com
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