Gentex Corp. recently opened a technology hub in downtown Grand Rapids in an effort to help the Zeeland-based company attract and retain engineering and software talent.
The Tier 1 supplier of products for the automotive, aerospace and fire protection industries moved into second-floor office space at 25 Ottawa Ave. SW. Gentex (Nasdaq: GNTX) is leasing the space from Franklin Partners.
Gentex, which is Ottawa County’s largest employer, plans to transfer about 40 team members from Zeeland to the tech hub to help establish the new office, but the remaining space will be filled as the company recruits new software and engineering talent from throughout West Michigan, said company spokesperson Craig Piersma.
The offices can accommodate up to 100 people and also include access to amenities including a fitness center, conference facility and bike room.
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“Gentex continually needs top talent, especially engineering and software technologists who can support our growing business and expanding product portfolio,” Neil Boehm, Gentex’s chief technology officer, said in a statement.
Amid a broader, 10-year effort to establish Grand Rapids as a Midwest tech hub, Gentex is leasing the office space to “appeal to area tech professionals who might prefer working in a vibrant city center,” Piersma said.
The company’s announcement comes on the first day of Tech Week Grand Rapids, a weeklong collection of events highlighting the region’s tech community.
Randy Thelen, president and CEO of economic development organization The Right Place Inc., which helped launch the regional tech strategy last year, said it’s exciting to see a tech-focused company continuing to grow in the region.
“This move by Gentex aligns with our region’s goal of becoming one of the leading tech hubs in the Midwest,” Thelen said in a statement. “This new space will accelerate the development, retention, and attraction of top tech talent to West Michigan.”
Greenleaf Trust also expanded its offices at 25 Ottawa Ave. SW this year, backfilling some of the office space that Corewell Health vacated in March.
The downtown technology hub is Gentex’s second expansion in the city of Grand Rapids, following the company’s recent launch of a satellite production facility in the Madison Square neighborhood. The facility produces sub-assembly components for the company’s HomeLink product, which is used for operating garage doors and other home automation devices. The plant is located at 355 Cottage Grove St. SE, which is owned by an affiliate of Rockford Construction Co. Inc.
Gentex is the largest employer in Ottawa County, with more than 6,000 employees working at the company’s main campus in Zeeland and other nearby facilities on the lakeshore.
The new tech hub is among several ways the company has been working to attract and retain talent in recent years. In 2021, Gentex launched Spanish-speaking assembly lines for West Michigan’s growing Hispanic community. As well, Gentex broke ground in May on a childcare and preschool designed to provide its employees with access to quality, affordable on-site daycare.
The childcare facility is set to open in late 2024 on Gentex’s Zeeland campus, and is designed to accommodate children of both first- and second-shift workers, with a capacity goal of up to 250 children per shift.
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