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Growing West Michigan auto-supplier hiring big, again

Gentex Corporation
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Gentex’s rear-view mirror display is one of it's newer technologies that's in demand. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is considering federal regulations that would require all new vehicles to have back-up camera displays by 2014.

Zeeland-based Gentex Corporation is the world’s largest supplier of auto-dimming review mirrors. The company has hired 1,200 people in the last two years. Now it’s looking to hire another 1,100 people in the next five years. That’s a 65 percent increase in its workforce since 2008.

Enoch Jen is a senior vice president at Gentex. He says the company had a slight downturn in sales at the end of 2008.

“Since then both the global economic recovery in the auto industry has been stronger than what many people expected and there’s been increased demand for some of our newer products.”

Those newer products include headlights that automatically adjust to changing light conditions, and rear-view mirrors with camera displays built inside.

The State of Michigan approved a tax credit worth around $2.4 million over the next three years to expand in Zeeland and Holland Townships.

Jen says the company is committed to West Michigan, but says many of their customers are expanding in the southern U.S.

“We obviously have to look at the economics and so the economic incentives that the state of Michigan has granted us certainly helps to level the playing field.”

The state also approved credits to help redevelop an empty hospital in Trenton, and a trail project in Grand Traverse County.  

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