GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids on Wednesday celebrated the start of a multimillion project bringing Perrigo downtown.

Leaders from pharmaceutical manufacturer Perrigo and Michigan State University joined developers for the 1 p.m. groundbreaking ceremony.

The groundbreaking ceremony for Perrigo’s Grand Rapids headquarters. (April 14, 2021)

Perrigo’s new North American corporate headquarters will be at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Michigan Street NE in MSU’s Grand Rapids Innovation Park. The company joined economic leaders in announcing the move in October.

The ground breaking comes with hope that the move will help transform the company, now based in Allegan, from a follower to a leader.

“It’s not yet seen by the community what I believe is the biggest of all opportunities, which is to make this the Silicon Valley of self-care,” Perrigo President and CEO Murray Kessler said.

The 125,000-square-foot building will primarily house corporate, management and administrative employees and will feature adaptive, collaborative work areas. It’s part of the new public-private partnership designed to unite health care, research, education and the private sector on Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile.

“Everything you heard today was how Grand Rapids is transforming and how Perrigo is transforming at the same time — all toward a common direction, especially on the Medical Mile here,” Kessler said after the ceremonial ground breaking.

Perrigo’s headquarters will join the Secchia Center, MSU Grand Rapids Research Center and Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building in Michigan State University’s Innovation Park. The four buildings are expected to be a boon for Grand Rapids, injecting $339 million into the economy each year while supporting 2,017 jobs and $142 million more in yearly earnings, according to study results released earlier this week by MSU.

Perrigo alone is expected to invest nearly $45 million over the next 15 years of its lease agreement, creating 170 high-paying jobs within the local economy.

Innovation for Perrigo is a big reason for the move.

“The heart of what Perrigo does is store brand, private label, which means the national brands do the innovation and we would copy,” Kessler said.

In fact, Perrigo sells more by volume than those national brands.

Perrigo’s moving to be what Kessler calls “national brand better” and “national brand different.” But to do that, the company needs to have the ability to recruit top talent.

“I needed to bring the best couple of hundred people we have in the company, put them all together in one place and let the sparks fly,” Kessler said.

The benefits of MSU’s Innovation Park extend beyond money. The study conducted by Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business concluded the development makes Grand Rapids a “magnet for recruiting top researchers,” benefiting the nearby Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health and potentially leading to more business spinoffs in the health and sciences sector.

It’s all part of the continuing effort to make Grand Rapids what MSU officials say will be an epicenter of health care innovation.

“With IP creations. With attracting other industry partners to the community,” said Dr. Norman Beauchamp Jr., MSU’s executive vice president for Health Sciences.

“Perrigo becomes a critical partner for innovation and really alignment of effort,” Beauchamp said.

Regional economic development organization The Right Place helped put together the package that brought Perrigo to the Medical Mile, which includes $3.7 million in state incentives.

Perrigo plans to maintain its manufacturing facility in Allegan, where its North American operations are currently based. Plants in Holland and Grand Rapids will also remain.

Perrigo’s new headquarters building is expected to be complete in 2022.