February 14, 2018 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is awarding a state transportation economic development grant that will support 262 new jobs in Ottawa County. The Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) Category A grant totaling $2,700,000 will leverage $105,000,000 in private investment, at a private/public investment ratio of nearly 39-to-1.
Gentex Corp., a global electronics company specializing in high-quality products for the automotive, aerospace and fire protection industries, and Zeeland Farm Services, Inc. (ZFS), a leader in farm, freight and food services, are both located in Zeeland. Each company has plans to expand but were very concerned about existing traffic issues on the road network surrounding their campuses, hindering such expansion.
Traffic from both companies, as well as other businesses, are required to access I-196 via the busy I-196 Business Loop (BL) and surrounding local roads. The existing state and local roadway segments include a number of closely spaced intersections and indirect left-turns along I-196 BL and M-121 (Chicago Drive). These segments are experiencing heavy and growing commuter trips in addition to truck traffic from companies in the vicinity The addition of more employees commuting through the area would only add to the current problems.
To increase capacity in the area, MDOT will reconfigure I-196 BL from I-196 to west of Homestead Drive from a boulevard to a six-lane roadway with a raised concrete median. Work also includes modifying the intersections to allow for direct left turns, along with opening a new north intersection leg at 84th Avenue. Additionally, the free-flow movement on the westbound I-196 off ramp will be eliminated and the M-121/Main Street intersection will be improved. These improvements will help accommodate expanded truck operations and reduce overall congestion in the area. Access to the Holland/Zeeland metro area and I-196 will improve and the new configuration is expected to help attract additional economic development.
State and local support for the project was a significant factor in Gentex and ZFS deciding to expand their facilities in Zeeland. Gentex is investing $100,000,000 to expand their production facilities, resulting in 250 new jobs. ZFS is investing $5,000,000 to expand their headquarters and operations, resulting in 12 new jobs.
"Gentex is proud to be a part of the Holland/Zeeland community and viewed the investment in this project as key to improving the safety of our employees, customers and supplier partners, as well as helping lay the groundwork for future economic growth in the area," said Steve Downing, Gentex president and chief operations officer.
"The Zeeland area has been our company's home since it began nearly 65 years ago," said Cliff Meeuwsen, ZFS CEO. "These needed road improvements will make a positive difference and increased safety for our community, company and employees. Thank you to Sen. Arlan Meekhof for leading the charge to bring these long-needed improvements to a reality."
"This collaborative effort of local employers and state and local government leaders is yet another reason Herman Miller is proud to call west Michigan home," said Brian Walker, Herman Miller CEO.
The total project cost is $7,655,000, including $2,700,000 in TEDF Category A funding, $2,000,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., $2,261,000 from the MDOT Grand Region, $300,000 from the City of Zeeland, $234,000 from Holland Charter Township, $75,000 from Zeeland Charter Township, and $85,000 from the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council.
Enacted in 1987 and reauthorized in 1993, the TEDF helps finance highway, road and street projects that are critical to the movement of people and products, and getting workers to their jobs, materials to growers and manufacturers, and finished goods to consumers.