Posted in News on August 06, 2018

08/06/2018 // ZEELAND, MICH –
Lakeshore Advantage and Zeeland-based Gentex have finalized an agreement making Gentex the first corporate anchor investor in the “Now for the Next” economic growth fund, which is poised to respond to economic development opportunities in the West Michigan Lakeshore region over the next 10 years. Gentex’s $100,000 investment in “Now for the Next” is part of a larger three-year $240,000 commitment to Lakeshore Advantage. The total commitment from Gentex is the single-largest financial commitment from a private sector employer since Lakeshore Advantage was founded in 2003. 
“As a technology company, Gentex focuses on bringing innovative products to the global industries we serve. As an advocate for local business development, we strive to keep our engineering, manufacturing and corporate footprint here in West Michigan,” said Gentex President and CEO Steve Downing. “This investment in our economic future reinforces our commitment to helping the community build a world-class business climate while advancing the quality of life we’ve all come to enjoy.”
The “Now for the Next” economic growth fund campaign was officially launched in mid-July by Lakeshore Advantage as an effort to replenish the HEDCOR Impact Fund established through the Community Foundation Holland Zeeland Area in 2008. That fund served as critical first-dollars in or gap-filling funds to catalyze economic opportunities such as the Holland SmartZone and Michigan State University Bioeconomy Institute, and the balance is dwindling. The Now for the Next campaign goal is to raise $2 million by 2021 to provide anchor investment in Lakeshore Advantage and a catalytic capital pool to act quickly on opportunities that will positively impact the community’s economic vitality. More about Now for the Next here.
“Gentex’s significant investment commitment under Steve Downing’s leadership demonstrates the company’s commitment to our work of ensuring quality job opportunities for current and future generations in an economically vibrant community,” said Jennifer Owens, president of Lakeshore Advantage. “Their leadership in being the first corporate anchor investor in Now for the Next will ensure we are ready for opportunities to come and will help support talent development and attraction efforts that are the highest priority for our employer base in this robust economy.”
Gentex is Ottawa County’s largest employer, with more than 5,600 employees located in West Michigan. The company was founded in 1974 as a manufacturer of commercial fire protection devices, yet has grown into an automotive and technology enterprise with $6 billion in market capitalization and sales approaching $2 billion annually. Its automotive product lineup includes unique digital vision, connected car and dimmable glass technologies, which can be further explored at
Lakeshore Advantage is a non-profit, local economic development organization started in 2003 by forward-focused business and community leaders to ensure current and future generations have good paying jobs in a vibrant economy. Lakeshore Advantage assists primary employers, from startups to large world-class corporations. Lakeshore Advantage recently announced expansion of their service area to include Allegan County in addition to assisting Ottawa County primary employers.
In 2017, Lakeshore Advantage supported 49 business expansion projects in the organization’s project pipeline. Of those, 18 announced business growth projects in 2017 resulted in over $90 million in private investment and more than 650 new jobs. More at